September 28, 2007

Fiction / Science / Philosophy


I like when more than one of my interests combine, as they did in a 1983 book I recently read by Rebecca Goldstein.

In The Mind-body Problem, Goldstein's heroine is a philosopher / graduate student at Princeton married to a math genuius. She jokingly tells her future husband that she is interested in the "body" of the mind-body problem, and then defends her joke (because he doesn't get it):

" 'Well, if there's a philosophy of mind, why shouldn't there be a philosophy of body? After all, the main question in philosophy is the mind-body problem. Why assume only the mind makes the relationship between them problematic? Why assume only mind needs analysis?' " Kind of a joke, but the story is set in 1976, and in 2007 ... it's closer to truth than it was 30 years ago (see Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee's "The Body has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better" (2007) ... about which more soon).

Anyway, the book is a nice blend of philosophy of mind and mid-list women's fiction.

I discovered it by reading Goldstein's recent essay in New Scientist entitled "Science in Fiction" in which she describes her own struggle between reading fiction and "good for you" stuff as a child:

"Every time I visited the library I allowed myself to take out one work of fiction. To balance it, I had to take out a book that was good for me, something I could learn from. I forbade myself from reading the storybook before completing the good-for-me book." Goldstein eventually became a philosopher of science and a novelist.

She's writing a new novel about science and religion.

For More Information
* Goldstein, Rebecca. The Mind-body Problem. New York : Random House, ©1983.
* --- List of works in WorldCat.
* --- “Science in Fiction.“ New Scientist, 8/25/2007, Vol. 195 Issue 2618, p43. Available in EBSCO, LexisNexis and more.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I am very interested in her new book about science and religion. I have been reading Alex Webster and The Gods, a great book about mythology, globalism and, religion. Anyone who enjoys Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett, will enjoy Alex Webster and the Gods. So, thanks for keeping me updated on some future related books.