These books have had a significant impact on the way I understand the phenomena studied by psychologists.
Yes, there are many others. These are the ones that seem most appropriate to share with students now.
Cromer, Alan (1993). Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science. New York: Oxford University Press. [Butler Library, IMCPL, Amazon, Barnes & Noble]
- [From back cover] "Most people believe that science arose as a natural end-product of our innate intelligence and curiosity, as an inevitable stage in human intellectual development. But physicist and educator Alan Cromer disputes this belief. Cromer argues that science is not the natural unfolding of human potential, but the invention of a particular culture, Greece, in a particular historical period. Indeed, far from being natural, scientific thinking goes so far against the grain of conventional human thought that if it hadn't been discovered by the Greeks, it might not have been discovered at all."
Plotkin, Henry (1994). Darwin machines and the nature of knowledge. Boston: Harvard University Press. [Amazon, Barnes & Noble]
- Well, this one didn't have an appropriate publisher blurb. I think this is an important book because it identifies Darwin's mechanism of evolution [reproduction with variation followed by selection] as a fundamental mechanism in many aspects of biological science. While I haven't tried to track down the sequencing of the concepts, I suspect Plotkin was a forerunner in identifying the Zeitgiest [German for "spirit of the times"] which lead to programmed cell death as a fundamental process of ontology [the development of the individual animal]. The "Aha" experience I had reading this book was incredible.
Jaynes, Julian (1986).The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. [Butler Library, IMCPL, Amazon, Barnes & Noble]
- [From the publisher] At the heart of this seminal work is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but was a learned process that emerged, through cataclysm and catastrophe, from a hallucinatory mentality only three thousand years ago and that is still developing. The implications of this scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history, our culture, our religion -- indeed our future. In the words of one reviewer, it is "a humbling text, the kind that reminds most of us who make our livings through thinking, how much thinking there is left to do."
Blackmore, Susan (2000). The meme machine. New York: Oxford University Press. [Butler Library, IMCPL, Amazon, Barnes & Noble]
- [From the publisher] , a meme is any idea, behavior, or skill that can be transferred from one person to another by imitation: stories, fashions, inventions, recipes, songs, ways of plowing a field or throwing a baseball or making a sculpture. The meme is also one of the most important and controversial concepts to emerge since The Origin of the Species appeared nearly 150 years ago. In The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore boldly asserts: "Just as the design of our bodies can be understood only in terms of natural selection, so the design of our minds can be understood only in terms of memetic selection." Indeed, Blackmore shows that once our distant ancestors acquired the crucial ability to imitate, a second kind of natural selection began, a survival of the fittest amongst competing ideas and behaviors. Ideas that proved most adaptive making tools, for example, or using language survived and flourished, replicating themselves in as many minds as possible. These memes then passed themselves on from generation to generation by helping to ensure that the genes of those who acquired them also survived and reproduced. Applying this theory to many aspects of human life, Blackmore offers brilliant explanations for why we live in cities, why we talk so much, why we can't stop thinking, why we behave altruistically, how we choose our mates, and much more.
Norrentranders, Tor (1998). The user illusion: Cutting consciousness down to size. Penguin USA. [ISBN 0-670-87579-1; IMCPL]
- This book was published in Denmark in 1990. It was translated and published in English in 1998. When I read the preface, I chose to pause and add a quote to my course materials on consciousness.
Wolpert, Lewis (1994). The unnatural nature of science. Harvard University Press. [ISBN 0-674-92981-0; Butler Q/175.W737/1994; IMCPL]
- Click here to see a web page of quotations from this book. I plan to integrate them into course material.
Some books on my reading list
Brodie, Richard (1995). Virus of the mind: New science of the meme. Integral Press.
d'Aquile, E. & Newberg, A. B. (????). The mystical mind: Probing the biology of religious experience. Fortress Press. www.augsburyfortress.org; ISBN 0-8006-3163-3.