Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

By Antonio R Damasio

Synopsis: In the centuries since Descartes famously proclaimed, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person’s true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended until recently to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of DESCARTES’ ERROR. Antonio Damasio challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wonderfully engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking and to normal social behaviour.

Published: 1994 | ISBN-13: 9780399138942

Book’s Wiki Entry

Descartes’ Error had come out when I started my thesis and contained many good ideas that helped me write my thesis on emotion in face recognition. In fact, I borrowed one of the tests central to his thesis – the Gambler’s Task that was designed to test the Somatic Marker Hypothesis and decision-making. The book makes sense of a great many unknowns about the brain, at least at the time that it came out. I recommend it, but I think that perhaps the field of brain science might have moved on since then. – @popsciguyoz

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