Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (Compact Disc)

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Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain Cover Image
By Michael S. Gazzaniga, Pete Larkin (Narrated by)
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Staff Reviews

Gazzaniga is a major figure in neuroscience and this book shows the breadth of his understanding. The first part of the book is an excellent rundown on current knowledge in the field. He also details some history, personal as well as from the distant past. He then brings in free will and determinism and highlights what we can and can’t say about those concepts. Instead of making definitive claims he states what direction we must go in to further explore how our minds work and the relationship between the mind and the brain. His introduction of downward causation is intriguing and his idea about morality and how it arises from the interaction of individuals is interesting as well. His most intriguing idea by far is that we have an "interpreter" module in our brains that explains our actions to us after we've carried them out! The book is fun and readable to boot!

— Andy


A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a "determined" world.Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who's in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, "constrains" the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called "his trademark wit and lack of pretension," Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, "It wasn't me who did it it was my brain." Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains. An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who's in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.

About the Author

Michael S. Gazzaniga is the director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of "Human: The Science Behind What Makes Your Brain Unique" and "The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas."

Pete Larkin, an "AudioFile" Earphones Award winner, has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993, served as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program, and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations.

Praise For…

"A fascinating affirmation of our essential humanity." ---Kirkus

Product Details
ISBN: 9781452605739
ISBN-10: 1452605734
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: December 19th, 2011
Language: English