Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

By Antonio R. Damasio

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In this wondrously lucid and engaging book, renowned neurologist Antonio Damasio demonstrates what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking. Descartes' Error takes the reader on an enthralling journey of scientific discovery, starting with the case of Phineas Gage--a construction foreman who in 1848 survived a freak accident in which a 3 1/2 foot iron rod passed through his head--and continuing on to Damasio's experiences with modern-day neurological patients affected by brain damage. Far from interfering with rationality, his research shows us, the absence of emotion and feeling can break down rationality and make wise decision-making almost impossible.

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