Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain by Martin Cohen
|Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain by Martin Cohen|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Robin Leggett|
|Summary: Martin Cohen explores the question of consciousness using practical ideas to get you thinking. Taking a 'thought experiment' for a day for a month, this is both fun and entertaining as well as insightful.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 168||Date: October 2010|
The sub-title of Martin Cohen's latest book, Mind Games, promises, rather optimistically in my case I felt, 31 days to rediscover your brain. It is rather presumptuous of him to assume that I had discovered it in the first place, but I appreciate his confidence.
All you need to know about Cohen's writing style is that he is the author of the UK edition of 'Philosophy for Dummies'. And if you are familiar with this excellent series of books, then you will know to expect a light, almost jokey style to the writing. Cohen adds to this a healthy dose of self-depreciation for philosophers and academics in general. Some might find this annoying but it helps to make often complex ideas light and entertaining to read.
This book is very much in that vein of bringing philosophy to the masses and encouraging people to think. It's somewhat ironic that in an age where information is more prevalent than ever before, the (inter)net effect of this is to make people think less about things, not least as we don't seem to have time to think as we are too busy taking all the information to think about it. Of course, there's a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put one in a fruit salad. Cohen's aim is to get the reader to stop and think about 'stuff' and to think about the process of thinking.
To do this, he takes an idea a day for 31 days. Typically this involves a 'task' although in practice a lot of them are not real tasks per se. One day he tells you to make a bed of nails and sleep on it, swiftly followed by a very responsible heath and safety driven warning that neither the author nor the publisher actually wants you to do this! In fact, the tasks are somewhat jokey in themselves. 'Measure in centimetres' is one, as is 'conduct some telepathy'. The tasks themselves are largely unimportant (although he makes the point that the act of 'doing' is better than merely 'reading about them'). What he really wants you to do is to think about the ideas raised.
The book is split into three parts: the daily tasks with a brief introductory blurb; a more detailed, but still brief, explanation of some of the philosophical, psychological, sociological and scientific ideas that are behind these ideas; and finally, and perhaps most usefully, some further reading suggestions on these topics. It's a perfectly logical layout, but there were times when I felt that I'd rather each task, debriefing and further reading were presented on consecutive pages to stop keep jumping around the book. I ended up using three book marks and that's a bit worrying.
The final day relates to the historic impact of CIA policy on art and literature as part of its propaganda obsession against communism. Sadly, the further reading doesn't suggest where to go for more on this particular subject which is frustrating as this day made me think more than any of the others.
Overall though, it's an interesting collection of thoughts and ideas and one that will give you plenty to cogitate and talk about (unless of course it's 'Day 7: Trappism - Don't Talk to Anyone').
Our thanks to the kind people of Wiley-Blackwell for helping the Bookbag to rediscover our brain.
For further philosophical thoughts, check out Breakfast with Socrates by Robert Rowland Smith which is equally interesting.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain by Martin Cohen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain by Martin Cohen at Amazon.com.
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