Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos
Two neuroscientists reveal why consciousness exists and how it works by examining eighteen increasingly intelligent minds, from microbes to humankind—and beyond.
Why do you exist? How did atoms and molecules transform into sentient creatures that experience longing, regret, compassion, and even marvel at their own existence? What does it truly mean to have a mind—to think? Science has offered few answers to these existential questions until now.
Journey of the Mind is the first book to offer a unified account of the mind that explains how consciousness, language, self-awareness, and civilization arose incrementally out of chaos. The journey begins three billion years ago with the emergence of the universe’s simplest possible mind. From there, the book explores the nanoscopic archaeon, whose thinking machinery consists of a handful of molecules, then advances through amoebas, worms, frogs, birds, monkeys, and humans, explaining what each “new” mind could do that previous minds could not. Though they admire the triumph of human consciousness, Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam argue that humans are hardly the most sophisticated minds on the planet. The same physical principles that produce human self-awareness are leading cities and nation-states to develop “superminds,” and perhaps planting the seeds for even higher forms of consciousness.
Written in lively, accessible language accompanied by vivid illustrations, Journey of the Mind is a mind-bending work of popular science, the first general book to share the cutting-edge mathematical basis for consciousness, language, and the self. It shows how a “unified theory of the mind” can explain the mind’s greatest mysteries—and offer clues about the ultimate fate of all minds in the universe.
Praise for Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos
What Sapiens did for our understanding of the evolution of the human race, Journey of The Mind has done for the evolution of complex thought and consciousness itself.
— Annie Duke, author of Quit
Journey of the Mind is a page-turner that helps us understand the incomparable work of one of the most brilliant of all neuroscientists. This is the book I would take with me if stranded on a desert island.
— Barbara Oakley, best-selling author of A Mind for Numbers
This enthralling book charts a quantum leap from the prebiotic universe to sentience and selfhood. This is an accessible, eclectic and enlightening book that—once read—is difficult to stop thinking about.
— Karl Friston, University College London, ranked by Semantic Scholar as the most influential neuroscientist in the world
Every page of Journey of the Mind is packed with fascinating insight. This is a brilliant book that will change the way you think about thinking.
— David Epstein, best-selling author of Range and The Sports Gene
Journey of the Mind explains a lot about the brain and its evolution in plain, accessible language without the technical abbreviations that make most neuroscience reading so unpleasant.…A daring book and an absorbing read.
— Peter Sterling, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, coauthor of Principles of Neural Design
This deceptively simple and scientifically grounded account ventures up the ladder of chaos to the rich possibilities for our collective supermind. An encouragingly optimistic reminder of how our shared experience and common understanding of reality far surpass our superficial differences.
— Douglas Rushkoff, professor of media theory and digital economics at CUNY/Queens and author of Team Human
In an intellectual tour de force they offer an imaginative tale of who we are and how we came to be that will keep you reading into the wee hours until the last page.
— Jeffrey Lieberman, author of Shrinks
A mind-bending survey….an original take on the nature of consciousness that gives readers plenty to think about.
— Publishers Weekly
[F]ascinating argument for a 'hidden connectedness of all minds,' from primitive bacteria to AI–enhanced human intelligence.… [Ogas and Gaddam’s] descriptive language is sharp and engaging.... [They] imbue every detail with awe and enthusiasm, a reminder to readers that the very science underpinning their theories is only possible because of the wondrous machinations of the human mind itself.… Packed with insight and astonishing in scope, this book offers an original perspective on thinking and consciousness.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)