The Dragons of Eden

ISBN: 0345281535
ISBN 13: 9780345281531
By: Carl Sagan

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Biology Evolution Favorites History Non Fiction Nonfiction Philosophy Psychology Science To Read

About this book

Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries."A history of the human brain from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, to the day before yesterday...It's a delight."THE NEW YORK TIMES

Reader's Thoughts

Dave

I would recommend this book to those interested in a highly speculative supplemental essay (at best) disguised as a novel.

Timothy Davis

I had certainly heard of Carl Sagan, but only in terms of cosmology. I had no idea that he wrote extensively on the field of evolutionary biology-stimulated by his wife, the biologist Ann Druyan. My field is not science, so The Dragon's of Eden was my first encounter with the idea of the tripartite brain. The idea does not originate with Sagan, as he himself points out, but this slender volume makes the idea quite assessable for the lay person and, more importantly, it creatively explores the idea's possible implications. Although I read this book years ago, I have thought of it several times a week since then, as I speculate upon some of the biological causes of human behavior. Newer models of the brain have already proved some of the basic ideas in this book as a bit oversimplified, but if you are looking for an introduction to speculating about how the brain's evolution may shape human behaviors, this is great place to start. I found the book a "mind blower"-and I always pick it up used when I see it to give to friends. Prepare to have your perception of perception itself turned upside down.

Ali Bari

لا حدود للمستقبل, لا مطلقات في الوعي, لا توقف في الزمنالبحث هو اداة الارتقاء الطبيعية للوعي.

Noha soliman

استمتعت كعادتى مع كتب الرائع الجميل كارل ساجان خاصة فى الفصل الذى ناقش به تعلم الشمبانزى للغة الاشارة واطلقت العنان لخيالى لو ان كل الشمبانزى والقردة تعلم لغة الاشارةواصبح بيننا وبينهم نوع من التواصل كيف سيكون شكل الحياة الاجتماعية بل الحياة ع الكوكب بعدما يصبح الشمبانزى كبشر ولكن فاقدى القدرة ع الكلام والنطق يمكنهم التعبير بالاشاره كذلك الفصل الذى يتكلم عن المخ والشق الايمن والشق الأيسر للمخ وتأثيرهما ع سلوك الانسان وطرق تفكيره كان ممتع انما المترجم اهدر كثير من متعتى بل ومن استفادتى بالكتاب وكان دائما ما يطاردنى الشك بان هنالك شئ ناقص او شئ تم تجويده وفق ما يرتضيه الكاتب ويؤمن به بعدما ذكر فى مقدمته انه حذف بعض النقاط التى يراها هو تعديا للخطوط الحمراء!! وقيم المجتمع!! من اعطى له الحق ليفرض وصايته علي كقارئ من حقى معرفة كل كلمه كتبت فى النص الاصلى للكاتب خاصة وانه نص علمى،، وكيف اعطى لنفسه الحق كمترجم ان يحدد ما هو صالح وما هو غير صالح وقابل للحذف وجدوى وعدم جدوى ما قام بحذفه

Jenni

One of the lesser points Sagan introduces is the analytical check our "left" brain must impose on our "right" brain's more intuitive connections. Ironically I would argue that Sagan's hesitance to check himself was this book's biggest failure. Often he excitedly drew out connections, usually preceded by a phrase such as "I wonder," that do not stand his left-brained test of reason. With that said, I found the book worth the read. Sagan draws up a quick tour of human evolutionary lineage with a focus on our neocortical developments. He also always had a ready comparison to primates in order to morefully showcase what makes us "human". As always, the line is thinner and more vague than many more orthodox religions would like to believe. One major takeaway was the human ability, through the development of the neocortex, to have built-in "intelligence", I.e. analytical thinking, as compared to "instinct". Whereas instinctual information is programmed into tightly packed DNA (and is therefore limited in nature) and survives solely off adaptive selection, intelligence (or extragenetic info) resides in a larger brain capacity.. it is the ability to think on the fly and respond successfully to innumerable changing environments and situations. Sagan introduces many other varying ideas and usually does a good job supporting them scientifically. All in all, if you ignore anything he says about aliens or computers, it's a good read.

David Kaczynski

This is simply the best book I was lucky enough to receive as a gift. Written thirty years ago, Sagan's principles in science, philosophy, and humanity seem to grow more valid as the years go on. I used to be an existentialist nutcase in high school, but this book straightened me right out. I can't wait to re-read this beauty

Rachel

This book is dated, but good. I love reading about research on the human brain. Sagan makes lots of corny jokes and asides that are not really appropriate but sort of endearing. The evolution of the brain is the focus and Sagan talks a lot about the "reptilian" brain, the part that we had before we became human. Also the discussion of what really makes us human is so interesting. On the radio some modern researcher said that the brain is a record, a story of what has happened to that particular body. Anyways, this book is archaic compared to what they know now, so I am looking for a modern (post-modern?) read on the amazing human brain!

Ramy

كتاب اخر جميل من ابدع ما كتب العالم الجليل كارل ساجان هو واحد من العلماء الموسوعيينهو مسئول برنامج البحث و الاتصال بالكائنات الاخرى خارج نظامنا الشمسى فى ناساتخصصه فى الاتصال بالموجات الرادوية العابرة للمجرات و مع ذلك نجده يكتب فى الطبيعة و الاحياء و البيولوجية و التطور وا لوراثة و العادات الحضارية و الثقافية المتنقلة من جيل لاخركتابه هذا هو مجموعة من المقالات تتناول بالشرح وا لتفصيل تطور مخ الانسان من الناحية المادية hardware و من الناحية العاطفية و النفسية و الوجدانية وا لثقافية ال software و كيف ان اقدم اجزاء مخ الانسان و التى تطورت فوقها طبقات و طبقات لاحقة هو المركب ز او reptilian partالجزء الزواحفى الم تلاحظ من قبل اننا كبشر نهمس ب الصوت هووووووس hushعندما نريد الاخر ان يصمت الا يذكرك هذا الصوت بفحيح الثعبان....خوفنا الدائم من المرتفعات و حلم السقوط من عل المتكرر انما يعكس ماضى سحيق لاجدادنا فى الخوف منا لقفز ما بين الاشجار..... تفضيل رغبة النوم عن رغبة الجنس .... انعدام الرغبة فى الجنس عند التعرض لاخطار ...كلها موروثات مكنونة بداخلنا منذ عصور القفز ما بين الاشجار....العلاقة ما بين نصف المخ الايمن و النصف الايسر..و كيف ان الايمن يختص بما هو كامن فينا دون اى تعليم او ثقافة مسبقة هو جزء الحدس و الشك وا لريبة الغير مبررة وا لتى تاليا ما يتضح لها سبب منطقى بفضل اخوه النصف الايسر منا لمخ و هو المختص ب المنطق وا لحساب و اللغة .... و كيف ان الجسم الثمفى و هو مجرد لحمة عصبية من مئات الالاف الوصلات الدقيقة و التى تنقل الكهرباء ما بين نصفى المخ...لتعضيض عملهم و كيف انه فى حالات فصلها تماما تقل حالات الصرع عند المرضى به فقط لان الكهربا لا تعد تنتقل ما بين نصفى المخ ...و كيف لوحظ انهم صاروا اكثر هدؤا و لكن منهم ايضا ما فقدت معرفته اللغوية تماما يرى الكلمة و يقراها و لكنه لم يعد يدرى ما تعنى ....و جزء بروكا و هوا لمسؤل عن التركيب اللغوى و النحوى للجمل ....و الاميجدالا و هو نخاع و قلب العصب الشوكى و منطقة اتصاله بالمخ و كيف انها مسؤلة عن النزعات الحيوانية تماما بداخلنا ..... اصلنا الحيوانيو كيف ان الجزء الخاص بالشم عن الكلاب اضخم و اعقد منه عند البشر....و اننا حتى مع قدرتنا المحدودة للشم فاننا لا نستطيع التعبير عنها كفاية لغويا....و احلام كفيفى البصر و كيف انهم ان كانوا كذلك منذ المولد فهم يحلمون صوتيا فقط ...و الكثير وا لكثير من المعلومات المفيدةاقرا الكتاب فى الوقت ذاته بالترافق مع كتاب المخ ذكر ام انثى و الذى يضج بالكثير من نفس المعلومات مع فارق انه يشرح بالتفصيل الفروقات عند كل جنس فى نفس القدرات الدماغية

Jesse Markus

Almost forty years since its publication, this book is as fascinating and relevant as ever. Sagan is the best!

Ashley

One of the most beautiful things I've ever read came from this book:"If the human brain had only one synapse-- corresponding to a monumental stupidity-- we would be capable of only two mental states. If we had two synapses, then 2^2 = 4 states; three synapses, then 2^3 = 8 states, and, in general, for N synapses, 2^N states. But the human brain is characterized by some 10^13 synapses. Thus the number of different states of a human brain is 2 raised to this power-- i.e., multiplied by itself ten trillion times. This is an unimaginably large number, far greater, for example, than the total number of elementary particles (electrons and protons) in the entire universe."

Leland

Difficult to rate, because the science described has moved on so rapidly since 1977, the publication date. I read it in order to feel re-acquainted with Sagan's friendly tone in his effort to popularize science ( live a few blocks from the old KCET studios from the "Cosmos" era). In that regard, it is very ingenious and concise. And frankly, the underlying scientific concepts still need popularizing. Appreciation of genetic science, paleontology, and even psychiatry is now extremely low - "pop culture" has eclipsed science and introspection for too many of the decades since the '70s - so Sagan's hopeful tone evokes nostalgia now. He aspired to be a polymath as well as a popularizer, so at the time of publication, I remember that he was knocked down for straying away from astronomy. But he asked good questions here, and not all of his answers are outdated. He responds to Julian Jaynes, in a fashion. He warns against pseudo-science, which has only proliferated and put national policy at risk, since. Glad to have picked it up!

Ethan

"There is a popular game, sometimes called Pong, which simulates on a television screen a perfectly elastic ball bouncing between two surfaces. Each player is given a dial that permits him to intercept the ball with a movable "racket". Points are scored if the motion of the ball is not intercepted by the racket. The game is very interesting. There is a clear learning experience involved which depends exclusively on Newton's second law for linear motion. As a result of Pong, the player can gain a deep intuitive understanding of the simplest Newtonian physics - a better understanding even than that provided by billiards, where the collisions are far from perfectly elastic and where the spinning of the pool balls interposes more complicated physics.This sort of information gathering is precisely what we call play. And the important function of play is thus revealed: it permits us to gain, without any particular future application in mind, a holistic understanding of the world, which is both a complement of and a preparation for later analytical activities. But computers permit play in environments otherwise totally inaccessible to the average student."

Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

For me, University was a time of intellectual awakening. In the first two years this was not so much from lectures and interminable pracs that I attended. Rather it was from the realisation of how much art and science and technology I had never come across before. In first year university we were required to study a non-science subject; I enrolled in Psychology. In amongst developing our paper plane skills, lectures on Skinner, perception, personality, emotion, were lectures on human consciousness and intelligence - subjects that I continue to find fascinating. Spurred on by these lectures I bought and read a profound, influential, new release by Carl Sagan: The Dragons of Eden.It is hard to convey how influential this book was for me. I still to this day have not read a science book so fascinatingly and simply written on such an easily misconstrued subject as the evolution of human intelligence. It was only when writing this review that I became aware that The Dragons of Eden was awarded the 1978 Pulitzer prize. Forty years on and ‘Evolution’, like ‘climate change’ have become the bête noire subjects of the conservative right of western democratic politics. As for ‘intelligence’, the self-help book-shelves have become replete with trite nonsense on how to define, measure, and improve your and your team’s ‘intelligence’. I recommend a small dose of Sagan-sense to them all.Read the complete review here: http://dragonlaughing.tumblr.com/post...

Itzel Morales

Muuuuuy bueno

Aaron Crossen

I read this when my family vacationed to Lexington like 8 years ago. I don't remember anything about it, other than it made me want to read Cosmos.

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