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Archive for 'philosophy of mind'

new book – ‘The Mechanical Mind: A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines and Mental Representation, 3rd ed.’ by Tim Crane

December 31, 2015

The Mechanical Mind

The Mechanical Mind: A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines and Mental Representation, 3d ed., by Tim Crane (Routledge, 2016)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

How can the human mind represent the external world? What is thought, and can it be studied scientifically? Should we think of the mind as a kind of machine? Is the mind a computer? Can a computer think? Tim Crane sets out to answer these questions and more in a lively and straightforward way, presuming no prior knowledge of philosophy or related disciplines.

Since its first publication, The Mechanical Mind has introduced thousands of people to some of the most important ideas in contemporary philosophy of mind. Crane explains the fundamental ideas that cut across philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science: what the mind–body problem is; what a computer is and how it works; what thoughts are and how computers and minds might have them. He examines different theories of the mind from dualist to eliminativist, and questions whether there can be thought without language and whether the mind is subject to the same causal laws as natural phenomena. The result is a fascinating exploration of the theories and arguments surrounding the notions of thought and representation.

This third edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes a wholly new chapter on externalism about mental content and the extended and embodied mind. There is a stronger emphasis on the environmental and bodily context in which thought occurs. Many chapters have been reorganised to make the reader’s passage through the book easier. The book now contains a much more detailed guide to further reading, and the chronology and the glossary of technical terms have also been updated.

The Mechanical Mind is accessible to anyone interested in the mechanisms of our minds, and essential reading for those studying philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, or cognitive psychology.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Neuro-Philosophy and the Healthy Mind: Learning from the Unwell Brain’ by Georg Northoff

December 19, 2015

Neuro-Philosophy and the Healthy Mind

Neuro-Philosophy and the Healthy Mind: Learning from the Unwell Brain by Georg Northoff (W.W. Norton & Co., 2016)

(kindle ed.),(amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Applying insights from neuroscience to philosophical questions about the self, consciousness, and the healthy mind.

Can we “see” or “find” consciousness in the brain? How can we create working definitions of consciousness and subjectivity, informed by what contemporary research and technology have taught us about how the brain works? How do neuronal processes in the brain relate to our experience of a personal identity? Where does the brain end and the mind begin?

To explore these and other questions, esteemed philosopher and neuroscientist Georg Northoff turns to examples of unhealthy minds. By investigating consciousness through its absence?in people in vegetative states, for example?we can develop a model for understanding its presence in an active, healthy person. By examining instances of distorted self-recognition in people with psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia, we can begin to understand how the experience of “self” is established in a stable brain.

Taking an integrative approach to understanding the self, consciousness, and what it means to be mentally healthy, this book brings insights from neuroscience to bear on philosophical questions. Readers will find a science-grounded examination of the human condition with far-reaching implications for psychology, medicine, our daily lives, and beyond.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action and the Embodied Mind’ by Andy Clark

October 12, 2015

Surfing Uncertainty

Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind by Andy Clark (Oxford University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

How is it that thoroughly physical material beings such as ourselves can think, dream, feel, create and understand ideas, theories and concepts? How does mere matter give rise to all these non-material mental states, including consciousness itself? An answer to this central question of our existence is emerging at the busy intersection of neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

In this groundbreaking work, philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark explores exciting new theories from these fields that reveal minds like ours to be prediction machines – devices that have evolved to anticipate the incoming streams of sensory stimulation before they arrive. These predictions then initiate actions that structure our worlds and alter the very things we need to engage and predict. Clark takes us on a journey in discovering the circular causal flows and the self-structuring of the environment that define “the predictive brain.” What emerges is a bold, new, cutting-edge vision that reveals the brain as our driving force in the daily surf through the waves of sensory stimulation.

See also: Author’s webpage

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new book – ‘The Centered Mind: What the Science of Working Memory Shows Us About Human Thought’ by Peter Carruthers

September 11, 2015

The Centered Mind

The Centered Mind: What the Science of Working Memory Shows Us About the Nature of Human Thought by Peter Carruthers (Oxford University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

The Centered Mind offers a new view of the nature and causal determinants of both reflective thinking and, more generally, the stream of consciousness. Peter Carruthers argues that conscious thought is always sensory-based, relying on the resources of the working-memory system. This system has been much studied by cognitive scientists. It enables sensory images to be sustained and manipulated through attentional signals directed at midlevel sensory areas of the brain. When abstract conceptual representations are bound into these images, we consciously experience ourselves as making judgments or arriving at decisions. Thus one might hear oneself as judging, in inner speech, that it is time to go home, for example. However, our amodal (non-sensory) propositional attitudes are never actually among the contents of this stream of conscious reflection. Our beliefs, goals, and decisions are only ever active in the background of consciousness, working behind the scenes to select the sensory-based imagery that occurs in working memory. They are never themselves conscious.

Drawing on extensive knowledge of the scientific literature on working memory and related topics, Carruthers builds an argument that challenges the central assumptions of many philosophers. In addition to arguing that non-sensory propositional attitudes are never conscious, he also shows that they are never under direct intentional control. Written with his usual clarity and directness, The Centered Mind will be essential reading for all philosophers and cognitive scientists interested in the nature of human thought processes.

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See also: Author’s website (Books section links to sample chapter)

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out in paperback – ‘Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy’ by Christian Coseru

July 2, 2015

Perceiving Reality

Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy by Christian Coseru (Oxford University Press, 2015)

(amazon.co.uk)

Product description from the publisher:

What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects? Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel? How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses? Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind, but also by drawing on the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Coseru offers a sustained argument that Buddhist philosophers, in particular those who follow the tradition of inquiry initiated by Dignaga and Dharmakirti, have much to offer when it comes to explaining why epistemological disputes about the evidential role of perceptual experience cannot satisfactorily be resolved without taking into account the structure of our cognitive awareness.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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