Book Report 2013 – What I’ve Read This Year

The following is a list of all the books I’ve read from front to cover in 2013, starting from the most recently finished. The books in bold are ones that were most influential to my thinking, or particularly fascinating.

  1. The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals – Thomas Suddendorf
  2. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  3. A Manual for Creating Atheists –  Boghossian, Peter 
  4. Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World – Weisberg, Michael
  5. The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History – Gould, Stephen Jay
  6. Brain Imaging: What It Can (and Cannot) Tell Us about Consciousness – Shulman, R G
  7. Consciousness and the Social Brain – Graziano, Michael S A
  8. Wired for God?: The Biology of Spiritual Experience – Foster, Charles
  9. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman – Gleick, James
  10. The Unpredictable Species – Lieberman, Philip
  11. The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism – Grayling, A.C.
  12. Stumbling on Happiness – Gilbert, Daniel
  13. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why – Nisbett, Richard E.
  14. Civilization and Its Discontents – Freud, Sigmund
  15. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature – Miller, Geoffrey
  16. Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds Without Content – Hutto, Daniel D.
  17. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength – Baumeister, Roy F.
  18. Beyond Good and Evil – Nietzsche, Friedrich
  19. Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules – Haag, Pamela
  20. Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking – Hofstadter, Douglas R.
  21. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home – Ariely, Dan
  22. The Future of an Illusion – Freud, Sigmund
  23. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets – Taleb, Nassim Nicholas 
  24. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed – Kurzweil, Ray
  25. On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic – Nietzsche, Friedrich
  26. The Mind-Body Problem – Goldstein, Rebecca Newberger
  27. The Marvelous Learning Animal: What Makes Human Behavior Unique – Staats, Arthur W.
  28. Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order – Strogatz, Steven H.
  29. The Cultural Animal: Human Nature, Meaning, and Social Life – Baumeister, Roy F.
  30. Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False – Nagel, Thomas
  31. The Social Construction of What? – Hacking, Ian
  32. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction – Goldstein, Rebecca Newberger
  33. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Roach, Mary
  34. Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety – Smith, Daniel B.
  35. The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness – Cohn, James
  36. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Cahalan, Susannah
  37. What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses – Chamovitz, Daniel
  38. Reconstruction in Philosophy – Dewey, John
  39. Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness – Grayling, A.C.
  40. The Logic Of Modern Physics – Bridgman, Percy W.
  41. The End of Christianity – Loftus, John W.
  42. Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress – Chang, Hasok
  43. The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World – Goldberg, Elkhonon
  44. Thomas Jefferson: Author of America – Hitchens, Christopher
  45. Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief – Barrett, Justin L.
  46. Brains: How They Seem to Work – Purves, Dale
  47. A Man Without Words – Schaller, Susan
  48. Beyond Morality – Garner, Richard
  49. Hallucinations – Sacks, Oliver
  50. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t – Silver, Nate
  51. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – Taleb, Nassim Nicholas 
  52. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood – Gleick, James
  53. Ubik – Dick, Philip K.
  54. The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution – Dutton, Denis
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5 Comments

Filed under Books, Random

5 responses to “Book Report 2013 – What I’ve Read This Year

  1. amanimal

    Wow, that’s better than a book/week. I think my brain would turn to mush(or more accurately be mushier) – just wanted to let you know I’m enjoying your blog and outside of the philosophy share many interests. I am slowly trying to get over my aversion to philosophy. Graziano has been on my ‘to be read’ list for a while – wasn’t aware he had a new book, thanks!

    Are you familiar with Leonid Perlovsky? I ask as he references Julian Jaynes in:

    ‘Scientific Understanding of Emotions of the Religiously Sublime’, Perlovsky 2012 (preprint)
    http://goo.gl/WFhAC

    (published as ‘The Cognitive Function of Emotions of Spiritually Sublime’, Frontiers in Psychological and Behavioral Science, Vol. 1 Iss. 1 2012)

    … on page 11, leading into:

    “The unconscious cognitive model at the top of the hierarchy is significantly independent from consciousness and guides consciousness in many ways, in particularly toward feeling its highest purposiveness. This model therefore has the property of an *agent*, independent from one‘s consciousness, but in control of it. In traditional societies as well as among religious peoples everywhere this is called God.” (page 12)

    … just an amateur here, not familiar with Gödel or Kant – any thoughts you might have on Perlovsky would be appreciated if you’re familiar or have the time and inclination to become so.

    – Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I had not heard of Perlovsky until now. I like that quote though.Looks very interesting. In the paper he says “[Jaynes’] fascinating analysis explained
      how differentiation was propelled by languages and writings, how it led to loss of assured connection to divinity (ancient synthesis of undifferentiated consciousness), to proliferation of polytheism, to loss of the sense of meaning up to the second millennia BCE, but came to an impasse incapable of explaining the rise of monotheistic religion.”

      While I don’t think Jaynes explained everything about the rise of monotheistic religion, he did have an account of it, or at least a schematic, black-box explanation. It stems from the analogical source of our god-concepts: the socio-political area of human actors and the political hierarchy of despots. Because gods were modeled on god-kings and god-stewards, when these god-kings started conquering neighboring cities and imposing their own gods, the gods themselves were reconceived similarly and we eventually get the concept of a “super god” like Marduk, who defeated all the other gods and became the “king of the gods”. This naturally leads to monotheism, the idea of the “lord of lords” or omni-god.

      Also, the rise of the concepts of subjective consciousness led to the “personalization” of God we see in Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon , where the divine-human relation is analogous to a personal romance.

      • amanimal

        Thanks Gary, I’m just kind of haphazardly exploring “where we come from, what we are, and where we’re going” to paraphrase Gauguin. The Perlovsky paper was one of the most interesting(and challenging at times too) works I read this past year, along with some of his other stuff on the knowledge instinct, neural modeling fields, and dynamic logic.

        I can see I’ll have to dedicate some time to going through your archives – wish I could have read your ‘Mind and Cosmos’ write-up some months or more ago. Anyway, thanks for the reply – it sounds like I’ll have to read Jaynes at some point from the little bit of digging I’ve done.

  2. Pingback: Michael Graziano: The Spirit Constructed in the Brain | SelfAwarePatterns

  3. Pingback: Virtual afterlives will transform humanity – Michael Graziano – Aeon | SelfAwarePatterns

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