Book Notes

The three books below have really helped me dive into the field of neurophilosophy and cognitive neuroscience. I provide my notes on each of them to give tools for people to improve their understanding. These notes were taken as I read the book, and they highlight the most important topics and findings discussed in the reading. All of them attempt to address the mind-body problem, and bridging gap between neurosciences and subjective experience. 

Where Buddhism Meets Neuroscience

This is one of the most fascinating and enlightening books I have read so far. It demystifies a lot of Buddhist dogma and presents a good dialogue between various western scientists and the Dalai Lama. The connection between the East and West has always been proven to misalign and have many incongruencies. But this book showcases the various similarities that Buddhist philosophy has with neuroscientific literature. The book is divided into sub-sections where each neuroscientist presents their study of the brain and Dalai Lama has the chance to connect Buddhist principles to that respective field. The book talks about brain anatomy/ functionality, sleep, dream stages, memories, subtle consciousness, psychiatric illness, and the limitations of our scientific interventions. Furthermore, there is also a chapter dedicated to explaining the fundamental Buddhist principle of the Middle Way, Madhyamaka-karika. The dialogues are enriching and give the reader a chance to catch up on recent neuroscientific paradigms as well as think a little deeper about the limitations of these paradigms and question their rationality. 

Matter and Consciousness

This book goes over the major philosophies of mind and gives arguments for and against each of them. There are 4 main problems in current philosophy of mind: 1. Hard Problem of Consciousness, why certain physical states lead to consciousness, 2. Ontological Problem, what is the fundamental metaphysical reality of mind, 3. Methodological Problem, what methods should we use to investigate the mind, and 4. Epistemological Problem, how can we know our analysis of consciousness is universal and metaphysical. Matter and Consciousness by Paul Churchland dabbles at each of these problems, and below are some of my notes on them.    

Touching a Nerve

This book is relatively new and contains many of the modern scientific theories of our brain and behavior. Patricia Churchland, a neurophilosopher, writes about how our brains are wired to think and lead specific actions. A very advanced read, yet an enriching experience full of new content and scientific theories. A large component of the book deals with evolution and how it shapes our brain and behavior. Her writing style is simple and she provides great amount of explanation for the theories she talks about. The book's intent is to show that our existence and consciousness is only a physical phenomenon and that everything about ourselves can be learned by studying the brain If you are a true materialist, this book will definitely suit your needs.