Phi (Very Beautiful Book Acquired, 8.08.2012)

Art, Books, Literature, Writers

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Giulio Tononi’s Phi—remarkable, beautiful, strange. Sort of a novel, sort of philosophical text, sort of a history, sort of a science book . . . I don’t know. Here’s the blurb:

From one of the most original and influential neuroscientists at work today, here is an exploration of consciousness unlike any other—as told by Galileo, who opened the way for the objectivity of science and is now intent on making subjective experience a part of science as well.

Galileo’s journey has three parts, each with a different guide. In the first, accompanied by a scientist who resembles Francis Crick, he learns why certain parts of the brain are important and not others, and why consciousness fades with sleep. In the second part, when his companion seems to be named Alturi (Galileo is hard of hearing; his companion’s name is actually Alan Turing), he sees how the facts assembled in the first part can be unified and understood through a scientific theory—a theory that links consciousness to the notion of integrated information (also known as phi). In the third part, accompanied by a bearded man who can only be Charles Darwin, he meditates on how consciousness is an evolving, developing, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves in history and culture—that it is everything we have and everything we are.

Not since Gödel, Escher, Bach has there been a book that interweaves science, art, and the imagination with such originality. This beautiful and arresting narrative will transform the way we think of ourselves and the world.

The comparison to Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach might be apt. The book also recalls The Rings of Saturn to me. I’ve put it in a “read this” pile.

More to come, but here are some shots at random from its interior:

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7 thoughts on “Phi (Very Beautiful Book Acquired, 8.08.2012)

  1. You’ll enjoy it. An amazing read. If he’s right it’s the most important discovery in the history of science.

  2. Where can I get a copy of this book? This is exactly the kind of thing I want to read and post about on my blog. I have never heard of this anywhere else. I’m hoping that you can give me more info about it. I am searching on amazon, but it’s not likely to be there…although, stranger things have happened. There used to be an out of print bookstore on the web, so that may be a good place to start too. Oh, I want this book something terrible!!! It must be owned by me, too. :D any help you can offer of where to purchase it would be fantastic!! thank you.

    1. I bought it at Barnes & Noble. It’s on Amazon too I think. It’s new so it should be everywhere fine books are sold. The publisher is Pantheon.

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