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The Hidden Spring Reviews

The Hidden Spring by Mark Solms

The Hidden Spring

A Journey to the Source of Consciousness

Mark Solms

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: 28 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9781788162838

More than just a philosophical argument, The Hidden Spring will forever alter how you understand your own experience. There is a secret buried in the brain's ancient foundations: bring it into the light and we fathom all the depths of our being.

4 stars out of 5
10 Mar 2021

"Solms includes fascinating and deeply affecting case studies"

Drawing on decades of research, the neuropsychologist Mark Solms argues that feelings, not cognition or perception, are the defining feature of consciousness, the source of which he locates not in the grey folds of the cerebral cortex but in the brain stem. Consciousness can be explained solely with reference to natural law – there is no mind independent of the body – which means, Solms contends, scientists could conceivably create artificial consciousness. Solms also includes fascinating and deeply affecting case studies, including research into children born with hydranencephaly, who are missing most of their brains yet who are more sentient than many doctors realise.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
5 Feb 2021

"(a) fascinating, wide-ranging and heartfelt book"

The book’s most arresting claim is that the answer is to be found not in brain functions such as visual perception or hearing, the usual focus of inquiries into consciousness, but in feelings. On close inspection, feelings, including emotions, don’t seem to be susceptible to Chalmers’s zombie objection. It’s easy enough to imagine a mindless version of me that could detect the presence of a red apple without literally seeing redness. But the idea of a zombie being scared or happy or regretful without feeling scared or happy or regretful makes no sense. “If you do not feel something, it is not a feeling,” Solms notes... But perhaps this is to say no more than that this fascinating, wide-ranging and heartfelt book does not succeed in dumping cold explanatory water on every last mystery of human existence. And I confess I would be lying if I said I thought that was a bad thing.

4 stars out of 5
5 Feb 2021

"(a) probing, complex investigation into why we feel as we do"

Chapter after chapter, experiment after experiment, Solms argues his point: consciousness has a natural, even a functional, explanation, which can be traced back to the foundation of the brain. He counters conventional scientific approaches, which have posited the cerebral cortex, the seat of intelligence, also as the seat of consciousness. Solms explains that hydranencephalic children, who are born without a cortex, appear to show consciousness (he reproduces photographs of a three-year-old girl without a cortex, who demonstrates an emotional response when her baby brother is placed on her lap)...