Splendors and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human Happiness by Semir ZekiSplendors and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human Happiness by Semir Zeki

Splendors and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human Happiness

bySemir Zeki

Paperback | December 31, 2008

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 165 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


Splendors and Miseries of the Brain examines the elegant and efficient machinery of the brain, showing that by studying music, art, literature, and love, we can reach important conclusions about how the brain functions.
  • discusses creativity and the search for perfection in the brain
  • examines the power of the unfinished and why it has such a powerful hold on the imagination
  • discusses Platonic concepts in light of the brain
  • shows that aesthetic theories are best understood in terms of the brain
  • discusses the inherited concept of unity-in-love using evidence derived from the world literature of love
  • addresses the role of the synthetic concept in the brain (the synthesis of many experiences) in relation to art, using examples taken from the work of Michelangelo, Cézanne, Balzac, Dante, and others
Semir Zeki is a visual neurobiologist in the Department of Cognitive Neurology at University College London. Zeki has pioneered the study of the primate visual brain and furthered research on how affective states are generated by visual inputs. He has published extensively in his field, including the books Inner Vision: an exploration ...
Title:Splendors and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human HappinessFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.02 × 6.1 × 0.82 inPublished:December 31, 2008Publisher:WileyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1405185570

ISBN - 13:9781405185578


Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Note to the Reader ix

Acknowledgments x

Introduction 1

PART I Abstraction and the Brain 7

1 Abstraction 9

2 The Brain and its Concepts 21

3 Inherited Brain Concepts 26

4 The Distributed Knowledge-Acquiring System of the Brain 35

5 The Acquired Synthetic Brain Concepts 42

6 The Synthetic Brain Concept and the Platonic Ideal 46

7 Creativity and the Source of Perfection in the Brain 50

PART II Brain Concepts and Ambiguity 59

8 Ambiguity in the Brain and in Art 61

9 Processing and Perceptual Sites in the Brain 65

10 From Unambiguous to Ambiguous Knowledge 73

11 Higher Levels of Ambiguity 87

PART III Unachievable Brain Concepts 99

Introduction 101

12 Michelangelo and the Non finito 102

13 Paul Cézanne and the Unfinished 111

14 Unfinished Art in Literature 120

PART IV Brain Concepts of Love 129

Conte by Arthur Rimbaud 131

15 The Brain's Concepts of Love 132

16 The Neural Correlates of Love 137

17 Brain Concepts of Unity and Annihilation in Love 150

18 Sacred and Profane 158

19 The Metamorphosis of the Brain Concept of Love in Dante 170

20 Wagner and Tristan und Isolde 182

21 Thomas Mann and Death in Venice 193

22 A neurobiological analysis of Freud's Civilization and its Discontents 203

Notes 213

Index 227

Editorial Reviews

“This book is not about what neuroscience reveals about love and about art, but it is about what love and art reveal about the brain. This book reveals the intimate relationship between the fundamental function of the brain and the highest of human experiences.”–Chris Frith FRS, University College London, and author of Making up the Mind  “The Brain Sciences hold out the great promise of being a natural bridge between the sciences, concerned with the nature of life and the universe, and the humanities, concerned with the nature of human existence. No one is in a better position to bridge this divide than Semir Zeki, and he has succeeded in illustrating how it must be done in this remarkable book, The Splendors and Miseries of the Brain.” –Eric Kandel, University Professor and Kavli Professor, Director of Kavli Institute for Brain Sciences, Columbia University, and Senior Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute