- Publisher: The Belknap Press
- Format: Hardback | 336 pages
- Dimensions: 155mm x 238mm x 22mm | 572g
- Publication date: 7 May 2004
- Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
- ISBN 10: 0674012836
- ISBN 13: 9780674012837
- Illustrations note: 39 halftones, 28 line illustrations
In this wide-ranging book, one of the boldest thinkers in modern neuroscience confronts an ancient philosophical problem: can we know the world as it really is? Drawing on provocative new findings about the psychophysiology of perception and judgment in both human and nonhuman primates, and also on the cultural history of science, Jean-Pierre Changeux makes a powerful case for the reality of scientific progress and argues that it forms the basis for a coherent and universal theory of human rights. In this view, belief in objective knowledge is not a mere ideological slogan or a naive confusion; it is a characteristic feature of human cognition throughout evolution, and the scientific method its most sophisticated embodiment. Seeking to reconcile science and humanism, Changeux holds that the capacity to recognise truths that are independent of subjective personal experience constitutes the foundation of a human civil society.
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Jean-Pierre Changeux, author of the classic Neuronal Man, is Director of the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, Professor in the College de France, and a member of the French Academy of Sciences.
[Changeux] thinks it is time that scientists attempted to explain mythic thought, because only by understanding irrational belief can they explain the rational search for truth that grew out of it. An objective knowledge does exist, and our brains are equipped to recognise it. But the quest for it is often biased by political and economic forces, and the editorial decisions of journals which are at the mercy of those forces.--Laura Spinney"New Scientist" (04/24/2004)