What We Are Reading Today: How Do You Feel? by A. D. Craig

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Updated 25 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: How Do You Feel? by A. D. Craig

How Do You Feel? brings together startling evidence from neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry to present revolutionary new insights into how our brains enable us to experience the range of sensations and mental states known as feelings. Drawing on his own cutting-edge research, neurobiologist Bud Craig has identified an area deep inside the mammalian brain—the insular cortex—as the place where interoception, or the processing of bodily stimuli, generates feelings. 

He shows how this crucial pathway for interoceptive awareness gives rise in humans to the feeling of being alive, vivid perceptual feelings, and a subjective image of the sentient self across time. Craig explains how feelings represent activity patterns in our brains that signify emotions, intentions, and thoughts, and how integration of these patterns is driven by the unique energy needs of the hominid brain. He describes the essential role of feelings and the insular cortex in such diverse realms as music, fluid intelligence, and bivalent emotions, and relates these ideas to the philosophy of William James and even to feelings in dogs.

How Do You Feel? is also a compelling insider’s account of scientific discovery, one that takes readers behind the scenes as the astonishing answer to this neurological puzzle is pursued and pieced together from seemingly unrelated fields of scientific inquiry. This book will fundamentally alter the way that neuroscientists and psychologists categorize sensations and understand the origins and significance of human feelings.


What We Are Reading Today: The World: A Brief Introduction

Updated 05 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The World: A Brief Introduction

Author: Richard Haass

The ambition of Richard Haass’ new book is clear from its title: The World: A Brief Introduction.
In just 400 pages, Haass, who has been the president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations since 2003, offers a primer on world affairs.
“The whole lesson of this pandemic, and the whole lesson of 9/11, is we can’t ignore the world, or if we do ignore the world, it’s at our peril,” Haass says.
“These oceans that surround us are not moats. We’ve got to pay attention to the world and we’ve got to fix things here at home.”
Mark Atwood Lawrence said in a review for The New York Times that the book eschews any interest in academic theories, which Haass gratuitously dismisses as “too abstract and too far removed from what is happening to be of value to most of us.”
Instead, Haass promises a practical guide to help everyday people understand global forces in which their lives are increasingly enmeshed, even if they do not always know it or like it.
The author’s “restrained approach does not mean that the book lacks big takeaways,” said the review.