Reviews; November 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Metzinger, Staff Editors; 5 Page(s)
As you read the first sentence of this review-trying to find out whether this will be an interesting book, one you might like to read yourself¿what exactly is the content of your conscious experience? Is it formed by the letters and their white background, which make up your visual experience? By the feel of the paper in your hands? By thoughts, now slowly beginning to bubble up as you continue to read? Or is it, rather, the experience of a self in the act of trying to understand?
In his new book, Antonio Damasio investigates the deep representational structure of consciousness. He argues that it always portrays a relation between an organism and an object and that the basic format of this portrayal is not thought but feeling. Damasio, head of the department of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and adjunct professor at the Salk Institute, won international acclaim for his 1994 book, Descartes' Error. It is easy to predict that The Feeling of What Happens will have a similar impact. The book is clearly aimed at a broad, nonscientific audience; in fact, a large part of its strength lies in the elegance of its language and the seeming ease with which it makes difficult issues accessible to readers with highly divergent backgrounds.