WorldCat Identities

Calvin, William H. 1939-

Works: 58 works in 229 publications in 5 languages and 12,086 library holdings
Roles: Interviewee
Classifications: QP360.5, 153
Publication Timeline
Publications about  William H Calvin Publications about William H Calvin
Publications by  William H Calvin Publications by William H Calvin
Most widely held works by William H Calvin
The cerebral code thinking a thought in the mosaics of the mind by William H Calvin ( )
26 editions published between 1996 and 2000 in English and held by 2,090 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
The Cerebral Code proposes a bold new theory for how Darwin's evolutionary processes could operate in the brain, improving ideas on the time scale of thought and action. Jung said that dreaming goes on continuously but you can't see it when you're awake, just as you can't see the stars in the daylight because it is too bright. Calvin's is a theory for what goes on, hidden from view by the glare of waking mental operations, that produces our peculiarly human consciousness and versatile intelligence. Shuffled memories, no better than the jumble of our nighttime dreams, can evolve subconsciously into something of quality, such as a sentence to speak aloud. The "interoffice mail" circuits of the cerebral cortex are nicely suited for this job because they're good copying machines, able to clone the firing pattern within a hundred-element hexagonal column. That pattern, Calvin says, is the "cerebral code" representing an object or idea, the cortical-level equivalent of a gene or meme. Transposed to a hundred-key piano, this pattern would be a melody - a characteristic tune for each word of your vocabulary and each face you remember. Newly cloned patterns are tacked onto a temporary mosaic, much like a choir recruiting additional singers during the "Hallelujah Chorus." But cloning may "blunder slightly" or overlap several patterns - and that variation makes us creative. Like dueling choirs, variant hexagonal mosaics compete with one another for territory in the association cortex, their successes biased by memorized environments and sensory inputs. Unlike selectionist theories of mind, Calvin's mosaics can fully implement all six essential ingredients of Darwin's evolutionary algorithm, repeatedly turning the quality crank as we figure out what to say next. Even the optional ingredients known to speed up evolution (sex, island settings, climate change) have cortical equivalents that help us think up a quick comeback during conversation. Mosaics also supply "audit trail" structures needed for universal grammar, helping you understand nested phrases such as "I think I saw him leave to go home." And, as a chapter title proclaims, mosaics are a "A Machine for Metaphor." Even analogies can compete to generate a stratum of concepts, that are inexpressible except by roundabout, inadequate means - as when we know things of which we cannot speak
How brains think : evolving intelligence, then and now by William H Calvin ( Book )
25 editions published between 1996 and 2013 in English and held by 1,240 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Drawing on anthropology, evolutionary biology, linguistics, and the neurosciences, Calvin also considers how a more intelligent brain developed using slow biological improvements over the last few million years. Long ago, evolving jack-of-all-trades versatility was encouraged by abrupt climate changes. Now, evolving intelligence uses a nonbiological track: augmenting human intelligence and building intelligent machines. In his concluding chapter, Calvin cautions about
The river that flows uphill : a journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain by William H Calvin ( Book )
12 editions published between 1986 and 2001 in English and held by 1,084 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Conversations with Neil's brain : the neural nature of thought and language by William H Calvin ( Book )
9 editions published between 1994 and 1999 in English and held by 1,047 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
In a series of highly charged encounters before, after, and during neurosurgery, an epileptic patient, Neil; his surgeon, George Ojemann; and neuroscientist William Calvin explore the intricate landscape of the brain, and in so doing, reveal the mystery of human memory, thought, and language. With novelistic detail, Conversations with Neil's Brain tells the story of a man offered the promise of surgery that can end his seizures. But with the opportunity for such a dramatic cure comes risk. The surgeon must remove a portion of Neil's temporal lobe, and if the instrument is off, the mistake could alter or erase essential parts of Neil. To avoid causing such irreparable harm, George Ojemann must develop a detailed map of the individual patient's brain, a map that identifies each specific region responsible for each highly specific function - the kind of map that can be developed only by probing for responses from the patient while he is awake and able to communicate, but while his cerebral cortex is exposed. Conversations with Neil's Brain takes us inside the operating room and allows us to be part of this eerie process of discovery, using it to provide a unique window on human consciousness and the nature of human identity. As we begin to understand, one region of cortex determines Neil's ability to follow a joke to the punchline; another determines his ability to recognize a face. A slip in one direction might damage Neil's ability to read, but not his ability to write. A different slip could wipe out Neil's ability to speak Spanish (his second language) but not his native English. Another could leave him able to identify an animal as an elephant, but never able to remember that its name was Babar. The mapping of Neil's brain brings to life as never before the astounding specificity by which the brain operates, making clear why reading, learning, memory, and decision making are so complex, and why such afflictions as learning disabilities, mental disorders, Alzheimer's, and strokes are so baffling. In the context of this surgical drama, it also provides an intensely compelling read
A brief history of the mind : from apes to intellect and beyond by William H Calvin ( Book )
13 editions published between 2004 and 2007 in English and held by 1,044 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
This book looks back at the simpler versions of mental life in apes, Neanderthals, and our ancestors, back before our burst of creativity started 50,000 years ago. When you can't think about the future in much detail, you are trapped in a here-and-now existence with no "What if?" and "Why me?" William H. Calvin takes stock of what we have now and then explains why we are nearing a crossroads, where mind shifts gears again. The mind's big bang came long after our brain size stopped enlarging. Calvin suggests that the development of long sentences--what modern children do in their third year--was the most likely trigger. To keep a half-dozen concepts from blending together like a summer drink, you need some mental structuring. In saying "I think I saw him leave to go home," you are nesting three sentences inside a fourth. We also structure plans, play games with rules, create structured music and chains of logic, and have a fascination with discovering how things hang together. Our long train of connected thoughts is why our consciousness is so different from what came before. Where does mind go from here, its powers extended by science-enhanced education but with its slowly evolving gut instincts still firmly anchored in the ice ages? We will likely shift gears again, juggling more concepts and making decisions even faster, imagining courses of action in greater depth. Ethics are possible only because of a human level of ability to speculate, judge quality, and modify our possible actions accordingly. Though science increasingly serves as our headlights, we are out-driving them, going faster than we can react effectively
The ascent of mind : Ice Age climates and the evolution of intelligence by William H Calvin ( Book )
8 editions published between 1990 and 2000 in English and held by 882 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Lingua ex machina : reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the human brain by William H Calvin ( Book )
21 editions published between 2000 and 2003 in English and held by 743 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
"A proper lingua ex machina would be a language machine capable of nesting phrases and clauses inside one another, complete with evolutionary pedigree. Such circuitry for structured thought might also facilitate creative shaping up of quality (figuring out what to do with the leftovers in the refrigerator), contingency planning, procedural games, logic, and even music. And enhancing structural thought might give intelligence a big boost. Solve the cerebral circuitry for syntax, and you might solve them all." "William Calvin and Derek Bickerton offer three ways for getting from ape behaviors to syntax. They focus on the transition from simple word association in short sentences (proto-language) to longer recursively structural sentences (requiring syntax). They are after invention via sidesteps (Darwinian conversions of function), not straight-line gradual improvements."--BOOK JACKET
A brain for all seasons : human evolution and abrupt climate change by William H Calvin ( Book )
12 editions published between 2001 and 2003 in English and held by 743 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Written as a travelogue, A Brain for All Seasons makes the fascinating case that our brains evolved in size and complexity because of abrupt climate changes around the globe--and that we haven't seen the last of these climate swings. One of the most shocking realizations of all time has slowly been dawning on us: the earth's climate does great flip-flops every few thousand years, and with breathtaking speed. In just a few years, the climate suddenly cools worldwide. With only half the rainfall, severe dust storms whirl across vast areas. Lightning strikes ignite giant forest fires. For most mammals, including our ancestors, populations crash. Our ancestors lived through hundreds of such abrupt episodes since the more gradual Ice Ages began two and a half million years ago--but abrupt cooling produced a population bottleneck each time, one that eliminated most of their relatives. We are the improbable descendants of those who survived--and later thrived. William H. Calvin's marvelous A Brain for All Seasons argues that such cycles of cool, crash, and burn powered the pump for the enormous increase in brain size and complexity in human beings. Driven by the imperative to adapt within a generation to "whiplash" climate changes where only grass did well for a while, our ancestors learned to cooperate and innovate in hunting large grazing animals. Calvin's book is structured as a travelogue that takes us around the globe and back in time. Beginning at Darwin's home in England, Calvin sits under an oak tree and muses on what controls the speed of evolutionary "progress." The Kalahari desert and the Sterkfontein caves in South Africa serve as the backdrop for a discussion of our ancestors' changing diets. A drought-shrunken lake in Kenya shows how grassy mudflats become great magnets for grazing animals. And in Copenhagen, we learn what ice cores have told us about abrupt jumps in past climates. Perhaps the most dramatic discovery of all, though, awaits us as we fly with Calvin over the Gulf Stream and Greenland: global warming caused by human-made pollution could paradoxically trigger another sudden episode of global cooling. Because of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the oceanic "conveyor belt" that sends warmer waters into the North Atlantic could abruptly shut down. If that happens again, much of the Earth could be plunged into a deep chill within a few years. Europe would become as cold and dry as Siberia. Agriculture could not adapt quickly enough to avoid worldwide famines and wars over the dwindling food supplies--a crash from which it would take us many centuries to recover. With this warning, Calvin connects us directly to evolution and the surprises it holds. Highly illustrated, conversational, and learned, A Brain for All Seasons is a fascinating view of where we came from, and where we're going
Global fever : how to treat climate change by William H Calvin ( Book )
5 editions published in 2008 in English and held by 740 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
With Global Fever, William H. Calvin delivers both a clear-eyed diagnosis and a strongly worded prescription. In striking, straightforward language, he first clearly sets out the current state of the Earth's warming climate and the disastrous possibilities ahead should we continue on our current path. Increasing temperatures will kill off vegetation and dry up water resources, and their loss will lead, in an increasingly destructive feedback loop, to even more warming. Resource depletion, drought, and disease will follow, leading to socioeconomic upheaval - and accompanying violence - on a scale barely conceivable. It is still possible, Calvin argues, to avoid such a dire fate. But we must act now, aggressively funneling resources into jump-starting what would amount to a third industrial revolution, this one of clean technologies - while simultaneously expanding our use of existing low-emission technologies, from nuclear power to plug-in hybrid vehicles, until we achieve the necessary scientific breakthroughs. Passionately written, yet thoroughly grounded in the latest climate science, Global Fever delivers both a stark warning and an ambitious blueprint for saving the future of our planet
The cerebral symphony : seashore reflections on the structure of consciousness by William H Calvin ( Book )
12 editions published between 1989 and 2001 in English and held by 621 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
How the Shaman stole the moon : in search of ancient prophet-scientists : from Stonehenge to the Grand Canyon by William H Calvin ( Book )
4 editions published between 1991 and 2001 in English and held by 558 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
The author looks to the heavens and to some of the most ancient ruins on earth to explore the shamanistic practices that started humankind on the path to scientific knowledge and modern civilization
The throwing madonna : essays on the brain by William H Calvin ( Book )
7 editions published between 1983 and 2000 in English and held by 536 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Inside the brain : mapping the cortex, exploring the neuron by William H Calvin ( Book )
7 editions published between 1980 and 2000 in English and held by 248 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Wie das Gehirn denkt : die Evolution der Intelligenz by William H Calvin ( Book )
4 editions published between 1998 and 2004 in German and held by 95 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Einsicht ins Gehirn : Wie Denken und Sprache entstehen by William H Calvin ( Book )
5 editions published between 1995 and 2000 in German and held by 77 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Die Symphonie des Denkens : wie aus Neuronen Bewusstsein entsteht by William H Calvin ( Book )
2 editions published between 1993 and 1995 in German and held by 73 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Da nao ru he si kao by William H Calvin ( Book )
2 editions published between 1997 and 1998 in Chinese and held by 33 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
De rivier die tegen de berg opstroomt : een reis naar de oorsprong van de aarde en de mens by William H Calvin ( Book )
5 editions published between 1990 and 1998 in Dutch and held by 26 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Uiteenzetting van verschillende evolutie-theorieën in de vorm van een reisverhaal over een tweeweekse tocht over de Coloradorivier door de Grand Canyon
Lingua ex machina : la conciliación de las teorías de Darwin y Chomsky sobre el cerebro humano by William H Calvin ( Book )
5 editions published between 2000 and 2001 in Spanish and English and held by 24 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
Searching for intelligence : from clever chimp to musical genius by William H Calvin ( Book )
1 edition published in 1995 in English and held by 22 WorldCat member libraries worldwide
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Audience Level
Audience Level
  Kids General Special  
Audience level: 0.33 (from 0.07 for Da nao ru ... to 0.92 for Searching ...)
Alternative Names
Calvin, William Howard 1939-
カルヴィン, ウィリアム
カルヴィン, ウィリアム H
キャルビン, W. H
English (165)
German (11)
Dutch (5)
Spanish (4)
Chinese (2)