Welcome to Your Brain and You!

The book is now available on Amazon for just $9.95. A brief description appears below.

Comments and questions about what’s in the book are welcome! Please see “Leave a comment” box below. I will do my best to respond to all questions and critical comments.

Please visit the blog. It will be about topics related to what’s in the book.

Here’s the brief description:

The things that make you you – your thoughts and feelings, your hopes, your sense of self – depend on the workings of your brain. But you don’t control these workings: in everyday life, you don’t know what your brain is doing, and you don’t find out what you’re going to think until your brain has made you think it.

When our brains give us thoughts like these, puzzlement and anxiety are likely to result. In Your Brain and You: What Neuroscience Means for Us, I clarify and solve several puzzles about how to think of ourselves in light of what we have learned from neuroscience. I talk about anxieties concerning selfhood and moral responsibility, and I explain a set of attitudes toward ourselves that fit with both common sense and the scientific view of what we are. I avoid technical jargon and make important issues accessible to a general audience.

Click on the image to go to the Amazon page. (This won’t commit you to purchase; it just affords the opportunity.)

4 Responses to Home

  1. Richard Van Iten says:

    I’ve been reading your books for some time now. During the Covid era I have gone back to Your Brain and You-first to review the neural account-a really big help in getting grounded in this general area; then on to the second part where you develop an account of how your neural story prepares your reader for free-will, self-identity and related issues in moral theory. Questions I’ve had for years: Why use ‘symptom’ page 42 and numerous times thereafter? The established clinical connotation tempts one to believe that analysis and diagnosis often run together when, however, your intent is purely descriptive. When I read this study the very first time, the second part struck me as very much in accord with Sartre’s anti-essentialism in No Exit. What left me uncertain about the existential significance of your study-as it relates to Sartre is the matter of determining whether or not your analysis of Who and What You are allows for the notion of a personal history whereby memory creates room for the idea that it makes sense-on your neural account of Who and What-to accept the observation that memory allows for, e.g. accepting/acknowledging responsibility for past brain states which would in turn leave open a psychoanalytic retrospective which in turn invites the expectation, the hope that there is a fundamentally important connectivity between past and present which aides a person in her search for answers to the questions having to do with behavioral therapies-I’m clumsy here but want to make it clear that the stories you develop in the second half of your Brain and You are very important re: the connections between brain science and brain therapies. On to the second book of the series you’ve under way, Bill! Our very best regards, H&D

    • wsrob says:

      Dik, Thank you for these comments! I think maybe the first thing I should say is that I was not intending to get into therapies at all; I’m not qualified for that. When I talked about symptoms, I was not at all thinking of something to be cured or removed, and perhaps I should have made that explicitly clear. That said, I do think that the last chapter of YBnU expresses a way of looking at life that’s not very common, and that might be helpful for some kinds of stress in some people.
      I intended ‘symptom’ only as an analogy that I hoped would make a certain distinction vivid. On the one hand, there are expressions of our beliefs. These are actions we wouldn’t be doing unless we held some specific beliefs. A typical action of this kind is saying ‘I believe that . . . .’ But many nonverbal actions express our beliefs. For example, you may believe your friends are arriving at the airport. You are driving to the airport to pick them up. You wouldn’t be doing that if you didn’t believe they’d be there.
      On the other hand, your talk and your other actions depend on a background of brain organization of which you are normally completely unaware. Your drive to the airport depends on, for example, your remembering when your friends are arriving, deciding what time you have to leave to be there on time, and recognizing that that time has come. All of those things depend on complex brain processes of which one is normally completely unaware. Your belief (as distinguished from its various possible expressions) is the organization of your brain that underlies the various actions that may express it.
      The analogy can be summarized this way: expression of a belief is to the underlying brain organization just as a symptom (fever, cough, etc.) is to an underlying diseased condition (viruses in your cells, pollutants in your lungs, etc.)
      We are immediately aware of medical symptoms, but know about the underlying disease only by a long process of scientific investigation. Analogously, we are immediately aware of what we say, or what we are doing, but know about the underlying brain organization only by a long process of scientific investigation (and, to some extent, philosophical reflections like the ones in YBnU).
      I didn’t go into Sartre in YBnU, partly because he’s not a clear writer and there would have had to be a lot of space given to explaining why I interpret his work the way I do. I think he’d agree that we are responsible for what we do, but I’m not sure he’d agree that we are not responsible for who we are. I also think we’d agree on a point that was called to my attention by a recent article that included the following quote from Frederick Douglass: ‘The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.’
      Wonderful to hear from you. My best to you and H.

      • Richard J.VanIten says:

        Hello, Bill! Thank you for your comments re: ‘symptoms’. I believe Sartre, given his anti-essentialism, would resist giving up his view re: who we are. He certainly found what eventually came to be known as analytic philosophy as some kind of an escape device. Bill, I have really learned a great deal from reading and rereading your work-so clean and patiently structured. There still lingers much for me to appreciate,. and I find your Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness an excellent “primer!” Backing up a bit, (Your Brain and You) regarding the notion of a “shadow”- it continues to break in on my train of thought…a shadow of what? Have you done anything more to exploit this notion? Finally, Bill, on another topic…in my opinion you have become a remarkably able philosopher. I am really happy that Iowa State University agrees with me! Please share with the Historian of your life our warm greetings. For now, Dik

  2. Mark Kabak says:

    Hi Bill!

    Thought you’d like to see this. It’s an 84″ X 43″ X 6″ back-lit exhibit. When an accompanying 3-dimensional model brain is touched, that location is simultaneously illuminated on the illustrated brain as well as the word describing the activity controlled by that area.

    Looking forward to reading more entries in your blog!


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