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Our Minds, Our Selves

Keith Oatley

  • Hardcover
ISBN: 9780691175089
Our Minds, Our Selves
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  • Hardcover
ISBN: 9780691175089

Publisher Description

An original history of psychology told through the stories of its most important breakthroughs and the people who made them

Advances in psychology have revolutionized our understanding of the human mind. Imaging technology allows researchers to monitor brain activity, letting us see what happens when we perceive, think, and feel. But technology is only part of how ideas about the mind and brain have developed over the past century and a half. In Our Minds, Our Selves, distinguished psychologist and writer Keith Oatley provides an engaging, original, and authoritative history of modern psychology told through the stories of its most important breakthroughs and the men and women who made them.

Our Minds, Our Selves traverses a fascinating terrain: forms of conscious and unconscious knowledge; brain physiology; emotion; stages of mental development from infancy to adulthood; language acquisition and use; the nature of memory; mental illness; morality; free will; creativity; the mind at work in art and literature; and, most important, our ability to cooperate with one another. Controversial experiments--such as Stanley Milgram's investigation of our willingness to obey authority and inflict pain and Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues' study of behavior in a simulated prison-are covered in detail. Biographical sketches illuminate the thinkers behind key insights and turning points: historical figures such as Hermann Helmholtz, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, B. F. Skinner, and Alan Turing; leading contemporaries such as Geoffrey Hinton, Michael Tomasello, and Tania Singer; and influential people from other fields, including Margaret Mead, Noam Chomsky, Jane Goodall, and Gabrielle Starr.

Enhancing our understanding of ourselves and others, psychology holds the potential to create a better world. Our Minds, Our Selves tells the story of this most important of sciences in a new and appealing way.

Author Biography

Keith Oatley is a distinguished academic researcher and teacher, as well as a prize-winning novelist. He has written for scientific journals, the New York Times, New Scientist, Psychology Today, and Scientific American Mind. He is the author of many books, including Such Stuff as Dreams and The Passionate Muse, and a coauthor of the leading textbook on emotion. He is professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto and lives in Toronto.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue xi

I Significant Ideas 1

1 Conscious and Unconscious 3

2 The Sad Case of Phineas Gage 23

3 Understanding Our Ancestors, Understanding Our Emotions 37

4 Individual Differences and Development 53

II Learning, Language, Thinking 65

5 Stimulus and Response 67

6 Language 81

7 Mental Models 89

8 The Digital World 13

III Mind and Brain 121

9 You Need Your Head Examined 123

10 Mental Illness, Psychosomatic Illness 137

11 fMRI and Brain Bases of Experience 153

12 Feeling within the Self, Feeling for Others 163

IV Community 173

13 In Affection and Conflict 175

14 Cooperation 187

15 What Is It about Love? 201

16 Culture 213

V Common Humanity 225

17 Imagination, Stories, Empathy 227

18 Authority and Morality 247

19 Creativity, Expertise, Grit 259

20 Consciousness and Free Will 275

Epilogue 289

Notes 293

References 309

Name Index 343

Subject Index 351

Image Credits 361


"[Oatley's] narrative showcases the breadth and importance of the discipline with lively writing that enhances the flow of ideas."---B. C. Beins, Choice "Organized around a series of engaging ideas, this might be the best introduction to the history of psychology I know."-Michael Tomasello, Duke University "Our Minds, Our Selves is an engaging overview of cognitive psychology and its intersections with numerous other disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, history, sociology, and cultural studies. It covers a wide range of topics in an accessible way and should have a broad appeal."-Chris Chambers, author of The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology "Keith Oatley, a distinguished psychologist and prize-winning novelist, writes with concision and great brio in this wonderful introduction to psychology. The coverage of current research is just right, with simple and practical illustrations of a sort that only an expert can provide. It is a book that should attract smart school kids to study psychology-and help undergraduates find their way through the maze of modern cognitive science."-Philip Johnson-Laird, author of How We Reason "A comprehensive survey of psychological knowledge grounded in empirical research and presented in a highly readable and engaging manner by a writer endowed with both psychological expertise and literary skill. . . . I can think of no better example of `bringing psychology of the people' than this book. I recommend it to all - to high school students and members of the public curious about mind and behavior, to psychology undergraduates seeking a comprehensive summary and overview of the vast spectrum of psychological knowledge, and even to psychologists like me, for it is good to be reminded about what our discipline has accomplished. Oatley's blending of these accomplishments with history, literature, philosophy, and the personal backgrounds of some of the movers and shakers in the discipline makes this an excellent read for all."---James Alcock, American Journal of Psychology "Keith Oatley takes up the ambitious task of explaining the workings of the human mind. He succeeds admirably, drawing on his capacious knowledge of cognitive psychology to make a persuasive case for his claims. This is an excellent book-comprehensive, rich in content, and with many illuminating examples that make for enjoyable reading."-Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, author of The Subtlety of Emotions "Our Minds, Our Selves transforms the history of the mind, touching on fields from neuroscience to the arts, and from moral philosophy to medicine. Along the way, be fascinated by mirror neurons, deep learning, how Google thinks with models, what changes personality, and what measuring the brain reveals. Keith Oatley brilliantly brings us into a new era in psychology-and we can never go back."-Jeannette Haviland-Jones, coauthor of The Hidden Genius of Emotion

Product Details

Keith Oatley
Princeton University Press
A Brief History of Psychology
Country of Publication
United States
48 b/w illus.
Publication Date
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