The Brain: A Beginner's Guide
Oneworld Publications, 2008
ISBN: 1851685944
9.99, 272pp

The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction
Oxford University Press, 2008
ISBN: 0199226326
7.99, 184pp

De-centering Man from the centre of the Universe.

Some deep existential curiosity (and occasional anxiety) provokes me to read about the beginning of things; e.g. the beginning of language, of universe, of humans and their beliefs systems.

Although that might seem odd to Ellie, I find this endeavour very refreshing. As a friend once told me, I am like a teenager who keeps being surprised by his discovery of the world, by his asking of questions about matters settled for most adults.

Nature or Nurture?

Is human perception of the world a matter of the way we grow up or the way we are made? On the old philosophical question of Nature vs Nurture, I understand that reality lies between the two. We are basically biologically made to perceive the world in a certain way, but we are not monolithic but adaptable, especially in the early part of our lives. This is the point also made by The Brain: A Beginner's Guide.

Is consciousness based solely on biological processes or does it have a metaphysical side? I find myself biased towards the first option, and rather skeptical about things that seem to have no basis in real life. That becomes even more probable when somebody considers the evolution of life. The History of Life shows that humans are not but a very short chapter in the very long history of life's evolution. 

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