The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life

The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life

by Shimon Edelman

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When fishing for happiness, catch and release. Remember these seven words—they are the keys to being happy. So says Shimon Edelman, an expert on psychology and the mind.

In The Happiness of Pursuit, Edelman offers a fundamental understanding of pleasure and joy via the brain. Using the concept of the mind as a computing device, he unpacks how the human brain is highly active, involved in patterned networks, and constantly learning from experience. As our brains predict the future through pursuit of experience, we are rewarded both in real time and in the long run. Essentially, as Edelman discovers, it's the journey, rather than the destination, that matters.

The idea that cognition is computation—the brain is a machine—is nothing new of course. But, as Edelman argues, the mind is actually a bundle of ongoing computations, essentially, the brain being one of many possible substrates that can support them. Edelman makes the case for these claims by constructing a conceptual toolbox that offers readers a glimpse of the computations underlying the mind's faculties: perception, motivation and emotions, action, memory, thinking, social cognition, learning and language. It is this collection of tools that enables us to discover how and why happiness happens.

An informative, accessible, and witty tour of the mind, The Happiness of Pursuit offers insights to a thorough understanding of what minds are, how they relate to each other and to the world, and how we can make the best of it all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465029204
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 01/31/2012
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 403 KB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Shimon Edelman is Professor of Psychology at Cornell University. He has taught at universities in Israel, England, the United States, and South Korea. He is the author of Computing the Mind and Representation and Recognition in Vision, along with dozens of scholarly publications in theoretical neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence, all focusing on reverse-engineering the human brain. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

1 Home Is Where the Mind Is 1

No justice, no peace. A journey is mapped out.

2 Computing the Mind 7

A great metaphor that isn't. Concerning computation. No cognition without representation. Three things everyone should know about life, the universe, and everything. Promethean probabilities and amazing Bayes. Minds within brains. Minds without brains.

3 The Republic of Soul 35

A discourse on method. Faster than a speeding marmot. A treatise of human nature. Perception by numbers. Representation space: the final frontier. Being in the world. The instruments of change. The value of everything. Things get interesting.

4 Learning to Think for Yourself 71

Ulysses ascendant. Remembrance of things past and future. Why everything important that you know you must have learned for yourself. Mirroring the world, mustache and all, one step at a time. Where was I? A moveable feast.

5 You Can Talk to Me 95

Preeminence above a vole. Replicants abroad. The digital revolution. Reduce, reuse, recycle. A garden of forking paths. Dependencies all the way down. It takes a village.

6 Nobody, at Home 131

The web of cause and effect. Through a scanner, darkly. Because it's there. Connecting the dots. Plow. Soul music. Being and time and zombies. That which we are.

7 An Irresistible Call to Depart 159

Prometheus goes on parole. Alexander meets Diogenes in Corinth. History is made in Bishopsgate. Peace is struck in the republic of soul. Ulysses leaves Ithaca again.

Always Coming Home 177

Acknowledgments 183

Notes 185

Further Reading 211

Index 231

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