[ View menu ]

Archive for 'consciousness'

new book – ‘Consciousness’ by Josh Weisberg

October 27, 2014

Consciousness

Consciousness (Polity Key Concepts in Philosophy) by Josh Weisberg (Polity, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Each of us, right now, is having a unique conscious experience. Nothing is more basic to our lives as thinking beings and nothing, it seems, is better known to us. But the ever-expanding reach of natural science suggests that everything in our world is ultimately physical. The challenge of fitting consciousness into our modern scientific worldview, of taking the subjective “feel” of conscious experience and showing that it is just neural activity in the brain, is among the most intriguing explanatory problems of our times.

In this book, Josh Weisberg presents the range of contemporary responses to the philosophical problem of consciousness. The basic philosophical tools of the trade are introduced, including thought experiments featuring Mary the color-deprived super scientist and fearsome philosophical “zombies”. The book then systematically considers the space of philosophical theories of consciousness. Dualist and other “non-reductive” accounts of consciousness hold that we must expand our basic physical ontology to include the intrinsic features of consciousness. Functionalist and identity theories, by contrast, hold that with the right philosophical stage-setting, we can fit consciousness into the standard scientific picture. And “mysterians” hold that any solution to the problem is beyond such small-minded creatures as us.

Throughout the book, the complexity of current debates on consciousness is handled in a clear and concise way, providing the reader with a fine introductory guide to the rich philosophical terrain. The work makes an excellent entry point to one of the most exciting areas of study in philosophy and science today.

See also: Author’s webpage

Comments (0) - consciousness,new books

$1.99 kindle (short): ‘Dying: What Happens When We Die?': Selection from ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’ by Evan Thompson

September 17, 2014

(UK kindle ed.)

Comments (0) - consciousness

new book – ‘Actual Consciousness’ by Ted Honderich

August 18, 2014

Actual Consciousness

Actual Consciousness by Ted Honderich (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

What is it for you to be conscious? There is no agreement whatever in philosophy or science: it has remained a hard problem, a mystery. Is this partly or mainly owed to the existing theories not even having the same subject, not answering the same question? In Actual Consciousness, Ted Honderich sets out to supersede dualisms, objective physicalisms, abstract functionalism, general externalisms, and other positions in the debate. He argues that the theory of Actualism, right or wrong, is unprecedented, in nine ways. (1) It begins from gathered data and proceeds to an adequate initial clarification of consciousness in the primary ordinary sense. This consciousness is summed up as something’s being actual. (2) Like basic science, Actualism proceeds from this metaphorical or figurative beginning to what is wholly literal and explicit–constructed answers to the questions of what is actual and what it is for it to be actual. (3) In so doing, the theory respects the differences of consciousness within perception, consciousness that is thinking in a generic sense, and consciousness that is generic wanting. (4) What is actual with your perceptual consciousness is a subjective physical world out there, very likely a room, differently real from the objective physical world, that other division of the physical world. (5) What it is for the myriad subjective physical worlds to be actual is for them to be subjectively physical, which is exhaustively characterized. (6) What is actual with cognitive and affective consciousness is affirmed or valued representations. The representations being actual, which is essential to their nature, is their being differently subjectively physical from the subjective physical worlds. (7) Actualism, naturally enough when you think of it, but unlike any other existing general theory of consciousness, is thus externalist with perceptual consciousness but internalist with respect to cognitive and affective consciousness. (8) It satisfies rigorous criteria got from examination of the failures of the existing theories. In particular, it explains the role of subjectivity in thinking about consciousness, including a special subjectivity that is individuality. (9) Philosophers and scientists have regularly said that thinking about consciousness requires just giving up the old stuff and starting again. Actualism does this. Science is served by this main line philosophy, which is concentration on the logic of ordinary intelligence–clarity, consistency and validity, completeness, generality.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

Comments (0) - consciousness,new books

new book – ‘The Conscious Mind’ by Zoltan Torey

August 12, 2014

The Conscious Mind

The Conscious Mind (MIT Press Essential Knowledge) by Zoltan Torey (MIT Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

How did the human mind emerge from the collection of neurons that makes up the brain? How did the brain acquire self-awareness, functional autonomy, language, and the ability to think, to understand itself and the world? In this volume in the Essential Knowledge series, Zoltan Torey offers an accessible and concise description of the evolutionary breakthrough that created the human mind. Drawing on insights from evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and linguistics, Torey reconstructs the sequence of events by which Homo erectus became Homo sapiens. He describes the augmented functioning that underpins the emergent mind — a new (“off-line”) internal response system with which the brain accesses itself and then forms a selection mechanism for mentally generated behavior options. This functional breakthrough, Torey argues, explains how the animal brain’s “awareness” became self-accessible and reflective — that is, how the human brain acquired a conscious mind. Consciousness, unlike animal awareness, is not a unitary phenomenon but a composite process. Torey’s account shows how protolanguage evolved into language, how a brain subsystem for the emergent mind was built, and why these developments are opaque to introspection. We experience the brain’s functional autonomy, he argues, as free will. Torey proposes that once life began, consciousness had to emerge — because consciousness is the informational source of the brain’s behavioral response. Consciousness, he argues, is not a newly acquired “quality,” “cosmic principle,” “circuitry arrangement,” or “epiphenomenon,” as others have argued, but an indispensable working component of the living system’s manner of functioning.

Comments (0) - consciousness,new books

new book – ‘Anthropology of the Brain: Consciousness, Culture, and Free Will’ by Roger Bartra

Anthropology of the Brain

Anthropology of the Brain: Consciousness, Culture, and Free Will by Roger Bartra (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

In this unique exploration of the mysteries of the human brain, Roger Bartra shows that consciousness is a phenomenon that occurs not only in the mind but also in an external network, a symbolic system. He argues that the symbolic systems created by humans in art, language, in cooking or in dress, are the key to understanding human consciousness. Placing culture at the centre of his analysis, Bartra brings together findings from anthropology and cognitive science and offers an original vision of the continuity between the brain and its symbolic environment. The book is essential reading for neurologists, cognitive scientists and anthropologists alike.

Google Books preview:

Comments (0) - consciousness,culture,new books