This is a towering book and one that ought to form one of the core constituents of any analysis of the meaning and evolution of consciousness. Its central message is what it says on the tin, namely, that consciousness arose as a result of a set of processes in the body and brain culminating in the evolution of a self within the mind. No self, no consciousness. One of the book’s appeals lies in the fact that it contains many layers of analysis, which means the subject has been viewed and tackled from many angles. Conversely, this leaves it open to the possibility that one does not agree with all of the layers. I found it hard, for example, to entertain the concept of (primordial) feelings ahead of the advent of subjectivity. But the overall depth and breadth of the book is unarguable.

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