by Antonio Damasio
which starts out with an examination of Phineas Gage
and proposes the hypothesis
is integrally linked
to having a body
(an idea which dovetails
nicely with the image schema
ideas of Lakoff
and his ilk
The book is essentially an argument against dualism, as espoused by Descartes. Damasio's argument is that the brain relies on signals from the body to prune the decision tree that it has to consider. So, I don't have to reason about whether it would be a good idea to touch the eye of a stove that has been left on for four hours - my body has an immediate visceral reaction to the proposition that tells me it's a bad idea. I don't have to waste time thinking, "Well, it would cause pain and pain is bad and it might damage the hand but it would also help warm my hand and warmth is good and..." This seems like a silly example because it is, but consider - I didn't have to weigh the pros and cons of behaving stupidly to figure out it was stupid.
Gage, Damasio argues, lost this crucial connection between brain and body and no longer had the feedback to tell him when something was a stupid idea. So he did things that weren't good for him.
Damasio provides short case studies of other neurological patients he has seen who have similar problems, and provides an informal description of experiments has has done with gambling showing that people who have less of a brain/body connection aren't as good at learning the odds of the game - or more accurately, they might learn the odds and still make plays that are stupid, even if they can describe to you why it is stupid.