Steps to an Ecology of Brain: A Dialectical Perspective of Human Experience and Brain Function

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Abstract

Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1999, Vol 44(2), 136–137. Review of the book, “Mind, Brain, and the Environment: The Linacre Lectures, 1995–1996” (see record 1998-07098-000). This is the sixth in a series publishing the Linacre Lectures at Oxford University, each with a theme related to the environment. This particular volume has a subtheme of how mind and brain interact with the environment. Many of the authors break down traditional but artificial barriers, such as those put up between the individual and his or her environment, between emotion and reason, and between the physical environment and the individual's understanding of it. The book contains some excellent essays, which accomplish the task of using interdisplinary approaches to studying mind, brain, and the environment. The book moves beyond simplistic and out-dated nature-nurture debates by emphasizing the utility of dialectical perspectives. A dialectical perspective to mind, brain, and environment is complimentary to recent uses of dynamic systems theory to explain human development and developmental psychology. Another strength of the book is that all of the chapters seem to be accessible to most psychologists. A glossary of technical terms helps the reader get past tight spots. The major failing of this book is that there is no interaction or connection between the chapters. This absence of dialectic is in ironic constrast to the overarching theme of the book. The book is short and hardcover and fairly expensive, so the merits of purchasing it are not very apparent. However, the reviewer can enthusiastically recommend many of the chapters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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