Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xvi

Why should a professor of literature like myself find neuroscience so fascinating? That is a question I have often asked as I found myself swept away by a growing sense of excitement and urgency while reading the technical, often dauntingly difficult neurobiological literature about action potentials, neuronal assemblies, ...

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1. The Brain and Aesthetic Experience

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pp. 1-25

There are many good reasons to undertake cross-disciplinary studies, but one compelling justification is that a problem one wants to solve cannot be adequately addressed with the tools of one’s discipline alone. That is clearly the case with neuroscience and art. ...

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2. How the Brain Learns to Read and the Play of Harmony and Dissonance

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pp. 26-53

Aesthetic experiences in different arts share some features and qualities, although certain experiences are of course specific to a particular art, as are their neurological and physiological correlates. Harmony and dissonance can characterize music, visual art, and literature, for example, but there will necessarily be differences in the neurological processes ...

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3. The Neuroscience of the Hermeneutic Circle

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pp. 54-90

One of the curiosities of contemporary neuroscience is that it has rediscovered some of the ancient truths of hermeneutics, the long philosophical tradition devoted to the study of interpretation.1 The central tenet of hermeneutics is that interpretation is circular. ...

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4. The Temporality of Reading and the Decentered Brain

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pp. 91-130

The lived experience of time is intuitively obvious—until we begin to examine it, and then it can seem deeply paradoxical, even scandalous. As Augustine famously asked: “What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is, and try to explain, I am baffled.”1 ...

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5. The Social Brain and the Paradox of the Alter Ego

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pp. 131-174

One deficiency of much neuroscience is its neglect of the social dimensions of the brain. This problem is no doubt in part methodological. It is easier, after all, to study an individual brain with an fMRI apparatus or to attach an electrode to a single cell—not that the technology of either procedure is simple— ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 175-182

I probably would not have written this book if I hadn’t spent a dozen years as a dean.1 That may sound odd, since doing administrative work is often (rightly) regarded as mind-dulling drudgery, and time spent in an administrative job is time not available for research and teaching. ...

Notes

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pp. 183-212

Index

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pp. 213-221