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Archive for 'consciousness'

new book – ‘Consciousness and Moral Responsibility’ by Neil Levy

April 18, 2014

Consciousness and Moral Responsibility
 
 

Consciousness and Moral Responsibility by Neil Levy (Oxford University Press, 2014)
 

(amazon.co.uk)
 

Book description from the publisher:

Neil Levy presents an original theory of freedom and responsibility. Cognitive neuroscience and psychology provide a great deal of evidence that our actions are often shaped by information of which we are not conscious; some psychologists have concluded that we are actually conscious of very few of the facts we respond to. But most people seem to assume that we need to be conscious of the facts we respond to in order to be responsible for what we do. Some thinkers have argued that this naive assumption is wrong, and we need not be conscious of these facts to be responsible, while others think it is correct and therefore we are never responsible. Levy argues that both views are wrong. He sets out and defends a particular account of consciousness–the global workspace view–and argues this account entails that consciousness plays an especially important role in action. We exercise sufficient control over the moral significance of our acts to be responsible for them only when we are conscious of the facts that give to our actions their moral character. Further, our actions are expressive of who we are as moral agents only when we are conscious of these same facts. There are therefore good reasons to think that the naive assumption, that consciousness is needed for moral responsibility, is in fact true. Levy suggests that this entails that people are responsible less often than we might have thought, but the consciousness condition does not entail that we are never morally responsible.

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See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Mental Biology: The New Science of How the Brain and Mind Relate’ by W.R. Klemm

April 8, 2014

Mental Biology

Mental Biology: The New Science of How the Brain and Mind Relate by W.R. Klemm (Prometheus, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

A leading neuroscientist offers the latest research and many new ideas on the connections between brain circuitry and conscious experience.

How the mysterious three-pound organ in our heads creates the rich array of human mental experience, including the sense of self and consciousness, is one of the great challenges of 21st-century science. Veteran neuroscientist W. R. Klemm presents the latest research findings on this elusive brain-mind connection in a lucidly presented, accessible, and engaging narrative.

The author focuses on how mind emerges from nerve-impulse patterns in the densely-packed neural circuits that make up most of the brain, suggesting that conscious mind can be viewed as a sort of neural-activity-based avatar. As an entity in its own right, mind on the conscious level can have significant independent action, shaping the brain that sustains it through its plans, goals, interests, and interactions with the world. Thus, in a very literal sense, we become what we think.

Against researchers who argue that conscious mind is merely a passive observer and free will an illusion, the author presents evidence showing that mental creativity, freedom to act, and personal responsibility are very real. He also delves into the role of dream sleep in both animals and humans, and explains the brain-based differences between nonconscious, unconscious, and conscious minds.

Written in a jargon-free style understandable to the lay reader, this is a fascinating synthesis of recent neuroscience and intriguing hypotheses.

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See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘The Secret Life of Sleep’ by Kat Duff

March 18, 2014

The Secret Life of Sleep

The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff (Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

It has become increasingly clear that our sleep shapes who we are as much as, if not more than, we shape it.

While most sleep research hasn’t ven­tured far beyond research labs and treatment clinics, The Secret Life of Sleep taps into the enormous reservoir of human experiences to illuminate the complexities of a world where sleep has become a dwindling resource.

With a sense of infectious curiosity, award winning author Kat Duff mixes cutting-edge research with insightful narratives, surpris­ing insights, and timely questions to help us better understand what we’re losing before it’s too late.

The Secret Life of Sleep tackles the full breadth of what sleep means to people the world over. Embark on an exploration of what lies behind and beyond our eyelids when we surrender to the secret life of sleep.

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new book – ‘Dream Science: Exploring the Forms of Consciousness’ by J.F. Pagel

March 15, 2014

Dream Science

Dream Science: Exploring the Forms of Consciousness by J.F. Pagel (Academic Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Dreaming is the cognitive state uniquely experienced by humans and integral to our creativity, the survival characteristic that allows for the rapid change and innovation that defines our species and provides the basis for our art, philosophy, science, and humanity. Yet there is little empiric or scientific evidence supporting the generally accepted dream-based theories of neuroconsciousness. Dream Science examines the cognitive science of dreaming and offers an evidence-based view of the phenomenon.

Today, such evidence-based breakthroughs in the field of dream science are altering our understanding of consciousness. Different forms of dreaming consciousness occur throughout sleep, and dreamlike states extend into wake. Each dream state is developed on a framework of memories, emotions, representational images, and electrophysiology, amenable to studies utilizing emerging and evolving technology. Dream Science discusses basic insights into the scientific study of dreaming, including the limits to traditional Freudian-based dream theory and the more modern evidence-based science. It also includes coverage of the processes of memory and parasomnias, the sleep-disturbance diagnoses related to dreaming. This comprehensive book is a scientific exploration of the mind-brain interface and a look into the future of dream science.

  • Provides a more evidence-based approach than any other work on the market
  • Single source of integrated information on all aspects of dream science makes this a critical time-saving reference for researchers and clinicians
  • Authored by one of the leaders in the field of dream research

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early kindle release – ‘The Mirror of the World: Subjects, Consciousness, and Self-Consciousness’ by Christopher Peacocke

February 10, 2014

The Mirror of the World

The Mirror of the World: Subjects, Consciousness, and Self-Consciousness by Christopher Peacocke (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(Hardcover at Amazon – 4/27/14), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Christopher Peacocke presents a philosophical theory of subjects of consciousness, together with a theory of the nature of first person representation of such a subject of consciousness. He develops a new treatment of subjects, distinct from previous theories, under which subjects were regarded either as constructs from mental events, or fundamentally embodied, or Cartesian egos. In contrast, his theory of the first person integrates with the positive treatment of subjects–and it contributes to the explanation of various distinctive first person phenomena in the theory of thought and knowledge. These are issues on which contributions have been made by some of the greatest philosophers, and Peacocke brings his points to bear on the contributions to these issues made by Hume, Kant, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Strawson. He also relates his position to the recent literature in the philosophy of mind, and then goes on to distinguish and characterize three varieties of self-consciousness. Perspectival self-consciousness involves the subject’s capacity to appreciate that she is of the same kind as things given in a third personal way, and attributes the subject to a certain kind of objective thought about herself. Reflective self-consciousness involves awareness of the subject’s own mental states, reached in a distinctive way. Interpersonal self-consciousness is awareness that one features, as a subject, in some other person’s mental states. These varieties, and the relations and the forms of co-operation between them, are important in explaining features of our knowledge, our social relations, and our emotional lives. The theses of The Mirror of the World are of importance not only for philosophy, but also for psychology, the arts, and anywhere else that the self and self-representation loom large.

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See also: Author’s Facebook page

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