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.