Saturday, November 19, 2016

On Being Human: Why Mind Matters, by Jerome Kagan. Yale University Press, 2016

‘On Being Human’ is a collection of essays by retired professor of psychology Jerome Kagan. He goes over issues such as brain scans being relatively useless for finding out where thoughts come from, given that a scanner is not the kind of place a person is usually in when thinking; the fact that neurons and chemicals do not tell us *how* a person things; and that using animals for research into thinking isn’t going to tell us how people think. There’s a lot about how environment shapes the mind and mental abilities, and how that makes for a really uneven playing field in life, which I found one of the most interesting parts of the book. At times, I felt I was reading a book of philosophy rather than psychology.

Kagan assumes his readers are on the same intellectual plane as he is, and writes on that level. I like that better than having someone talk down to me, but…it took me forever to get through this book.  I did read every word. It’s not that he uses arcane words; they are terms found in the average vocabulary. He has a lot of interesting things to say; some I agree with, some not. Did I *enjoy* the book? No. I know it says something bad about my brain, but it was too much work to be enjoyable. I learned things- which is normally fun for me- but I did not do it happily. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything-from Amazon, they will give me  a few cents. This in no way influenced my review.