The Happiness of Pursuit: Book summary and reviews of The Happiness of Pursuit by Shimon Edelman

The Happiness of Pursuit

What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life

by Shimon Edelman

The Happiness of Pursuit by Shimon Edelman

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Book Summary

Despite the commonplace comparison, the mind isn't just like a computer; it truly is one, best defined as a bundle of computations carried out collectively by the brain's neurons. But the brain is also the organ with which we experience emotions, such as happiness. In The Happiness of Pursuit, cognition expert Shimon Edelman draws on philosophy, literature and brain science to argue that we can use our best understanding of the mind to increase our chances of being happy. Viewed through his lens, happiness isn't a programme we fulfill or a destination we reach, but a continuous journey. A book like no other in cognitive science - witty, learned and accessible - The Happiness of Pursuit stands to be a classic, pushing the limits of our knowledge of the brain.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An elegant tour de force that combines neuropsychology with liberal references to Shakespeare and Homer." - Kirkus Reviews

"Edelman marries his scientific mind with his poetic eye to give us the neuroscience that matters the most: an understanding of our own lives." - David Eagleman, Director, Laboratory for Perception and Action, Baylor College of Medicine, and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

"For all its seriousness, ambition, and learning, Shimon Edelman's The Happiness of Pursuit is an extraordinarily human book. It is ambitious because he bases his view of the nature of happiness on what for many of his readers will be an unusual conception of the relation between the brain, the Self, and the body. Happiness, says Edelman, is not simply a state of mind one tries to attain, but an unceasing activity. That is, whenever it does attain its goal, after a pause for savoring its success it must change its goal for a new one. The Happiness of Pursuit shows Edeman to be a witty, resourceful, raconteur. You never forget his presence. He leans out of his book as if he were at an open window beckoning to us to come inside and listen." - Ben-Ami Scharfstein, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University, and author of Art Without Borders: A Philosophical Exploration of Art and Humanity

"The ancient injunction to 'Know thyself' gets a lively update in Shimon Edelman's eclectic examination of 'knowing' and 'self' through the lens of twenty-first century cognitive science. It's human to wander thoughtfully through real and imaginary landscapes, learning as we go - this is happiness, embodied in Edelman's witty odyssey, which provokes the very pleasures it describes." - Dan Lloyd, Brownell Professor of Philosophy, Trinity College

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Shimon Edelman is a Professor of Psychology at Cornell University with a focus on reverse engineering the brain. He is the author of Computing the Mind and Representation and Recognition in Vision. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

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