Gerald Edelman is the founder and director of The Neurosciences Institute, a nonprofit research centre in San Diego that studies the biological basis of higher brain function in humans, and is a professor of neurobiology at The Scripps Research Institute. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1972 for his work on the immune system, most notably his discovery of the structure of antibody molecules. He is noted for his theory of mind, published in a trilogy of technical books, and in briefer form for a more general audience in Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind and more recently in Wider than the Sky: The Phenominal Gift of Consciousness. Topobiology contains a theory of how the original neuronal network of a newborn's brain is established during development of the embryo. Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection contains a theory of memory that is built around the idea of plasticity in the neural network in response to the environment. In The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness, Edleman argues that the mind and consciousness are wholly material and purely biological phenomena, occurring as highly complex cellular processes within the brain, and that the development of consciousness and intelligence can be satisfactorily explained by Darwinian theory. He proposes that we should attempt to construct models of functioning brains which, through interactions with their surroundings, can develop minds. In A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, Edelman (with Giulio Tononi) propose what they call the dynamic core hypothesis to explain the neural basis of conscious experience. This hypothesis states that the activity of a group of neurons can contribute directly to conscious experience if it is part of a functional cluster, characterized by strong mutual interactions among a set of neuronal groups over a period of hundreds of milliseconds.
Edelman's latest book is Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge, a remarkable contribution to the philosophy of the mind in which he breaks new ground to an age-old problem by launching brain-based epistemology. Original, lucid, concise, succinct: easily the best in the field.
- Gerald Edelman's Nobel Prize page
- Gerald Edelman's Scripps Research Institute page
- Gerald Edelman's PBS interview
- Gerald Edelman's NPQ interview
- Gerald Edelman's Wikipedia page
Gerald Edelman Quotes
Consciousness: the remembered present.
We're inquiring into the deepest nature of our constitutions: How we inherit from each other. How we can change. How our minds think. How our will is related to our thoughts. How our thoughts are related to our molecules.
A knowledge of brain science will provide one of the major foundations of the new age to come. That knowledge will spawn cures for disease, new machines based on brain function, further insights into our nature and how we know.
Science is the imagination in the service of the verifiable truth.
Every perception is to some degree an act of creation. Every active memory is to some degree an act of imagination.
The hard problem doesn't require a solution, it requires a cure.