The Tides of Mind

In this book David Gelernter (, a professor of computer science at Yale, argues that the current trend in cognitive science toward ‘computationalism’ ignores basic, glaringly obvious truths about the difference between brain and mind. He makes the case that human intellect and selfhood are not merely the product of a calculating brain. He explores the ‘spectrum’ of thought experienced over the course of a day. This ranges across the creative haze encountered upon first waking, the focused and rational thoughts of our most productive hours, the daydreaming we engage in while drowsy, the involuntary free association of near-sleep, and the opaque  realm of dreams and the unconscious. Gelernter contends that the ‘down-spectrum’ realms of dreams and fantasies, which are controlled by emotion and memory, allow for the creative thinking that will always separate humans from machines. Quotes about the mind from Proust, Pynchon, Shakespeare, and other literary giants provide some reassurance that we’ve still got something on the robots.


To pursue an interest in consciousness turn to Consciousness (2005) by Keith Frankish (reviewed by me here ) and all the suggestions for reading on the topic there.


Check if this thought provoking study is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at


320 pages in Liveright

First published 2016

ISBN 978-0871403803


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David Gelernter



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