Sir John Eccles, a distinguished scientist and Nobel Prize winner who has devoted his scientific life to the study of the mammalian brain, tells the story of how we came to be, not only as animals at the end of the hominid evolutionary line, but also as human beings possessed of reflective consciousness.
Eccles traces the line of human evolutionary descent through developments such as skilled bipedal walking and dawning spirituality, linking them with the growth of the human brain. He conjectures that the beginning of human language came with "Homo habilis" and its greatly enlarged brain, while the mystery of self-consciousness is related to the newly developing neocortical areas of the brain.
"He can be well satisfied with the result; it is a clear account of his beliefs, which are different from those of most of his fellow physiologists . . . well-illustrated and readable . . . these are serious and difficult problems of science and philosophy. We can be grateful to Eccles for his lifelong insistence that we should not neglect them, and for presenting them in such a stimulating book."
." . . Eccles goes beyond the usual discourses about evolution to probe at the heart of human consciousness: the development of the human brain and mind."
-"The Midwest Book Review
." . . well worth reading, and in many ways highly instructive for evolutionists and other biologists, particularly those who are not familiar with the complex problems treated in it."
-"The Quarterly Review of Biology
"Eccles' discussions of neurophysiological mechanisms are wonderfully clear, and some of his hypotheses concerning the elaborationof sensory and motor systems of the human brain are novel and insightful. His discussions smoothly integrate the results of relevant brain research, comparative behavioral observations and evidence of quantitative change of brain structure in an attempt to describe how these systems may have changed in the course of primate and hominid evolution."
-"American Scientist, May-June 1991
." . . one is taken on a fascinating interpretation of the evolution of the mammalian brain, replete with breakthroughs, controversies, speculations, and the author's own passionate faith in evolution as "the instrument" of a transendent purpose."
-"Psychology & Religion