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new book – ‘Minding the Brain: A Guide to Philosophy and Neuroscience’ by Georg Northoff

May 25, 2014

Minding the Brain

Minding the Brain: A Guide to Philosophy and Neuroscience by Georg Northoff (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

This book explores how the relationship between philosophy and the brain can inform neuroscience, the mind-brain problem and debates about consciousness. Written in a lively style with extensive pedagogy to explain complex concepts, this is interesting reading for students and researchers of psychology, neuroscience and philosophy.

Table of Contents:
Introduction
PART I: MIND AND BRAIN – FROM PHILOSOPHY THROUGH NEUROSCIENCE TO NEUROPHILOSOPHY
1. Philosophy and the Mind – Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology
2. Philosophy and Science – Naturalism
3. Mind, Brain and Science – Psychology and Neuroscience
4. Brain and Philosophy – Neurophilosophy
PART II: MIND-BRAIN PROBLEM – FROM PHILOSOPHY OF MIND TO PHILOSOPHY OF BRAIN
5. Mental Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
6. Physical and Functional Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
7. Non-mental and Non-physical Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
8. Brain-based Approaches to the Mind-brain Problem
PART III: PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE – FROM EXPLANATION OF MIND TO EXPLANATION OF BRAIN
9. Philosophy of Psychology – Personal Versus Subpersonal Levels of Explanation
10. Philosophy of Psychology – Mind and Meaning
11. Philosophy of Neuroscience – Explanations, Concepts, and Observer in Neuroscience
12. Philosophy of Brain – Characterization of the Brain
PART IV: NEUROPHILOSOPHY OF CONSCIOUSNESS – FROM MIND TO CONSCIOUSNESS
13. Arguments against the Reduction of Consciousness to the Brain
14. Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC)
15. Neural Predispositions of Consciousness (NPC)
16. Conceptual, Phenomenal, and Methodological Issues in the Investigation of Consciousness
PART V: NEUROPHILOSOPHY OF SELF – FROM CONSCIOUSNESS TO SELF
17. Brain and Self
18. Brain and Self-consciousness
19. Abnormalities of Self and Brain in Psychiatric Disorders
20. Brain and Intersubjectivity
Epilogue: Is the Brain a Door Opener?

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Acts of Consciousness: A Social Psychology Standpoint’ by Guy Saunders

May 22, 2014

Acts of Consciousness

Acts of Consciousness: A Social Psychology Standpoint by Guy Saunders (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Drawing on compelling material from research interviews with former hostages and political prisoners, Guy Saunders reworks three classic thought experiment stories: Parfit’s ‘Teleporter’, Nagel’s ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ and Jackson’s ‘Mary the colour scientist’ to form a fresh look at the study of consciousness. By examining consciousness from a social psychology perspective, Saunders develops a ‘cubist psychology of consciousness’ through which he challenges the accepted wisdom of mainstream approaches by arguing that people can act freely. What makes ‘cubist psychology’ is both the many examples taken from different viewpoints and the multiple ways of looking at the key issues of person, mind and world. This is a unique and engaging book that will appeal to students and academics in the field of consciousness studies and other readers with an interest in consciousness.

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new book – ‘The Predictive Brain: Consciousness, Decision and Embodied Action’ by Mauro Maldonato

May 5, 2014

The Predictive Brain

The Predictive Brain: Consciousness, Decision and Embodied Action by Mauro Maldonato (Sussex Academic Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

An investigation of the working of the human mind, this book sets out to show that the brain is not only a reactive mechanism, but rather proactive, allowing people to make hypotheses, anticipate consequences, and formulate expectations. The book discusses how the evolution of motor modes of behavior, such as the ability to construct and manipulate instruments, has given rise to an “embodied logic” underpinning not only action and prediction but also gestures and syllable sequences that are the basis of human communication. This book then looks at how, if consciousness is caused by specific neuronal processes and, therefore, conscious states are causally reducible to neurobiological processes, it is also true that conscious states exist at a higher level than neuron activity. For this reason, this work argues that it is necessary to go beyond a hierarchical idea of levels of consciousness, and to refute the idea according to which the mental sphere is qualitative, subjective, and in the first person, while the physical sphere is quantitative, objective, and in the third person.

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See also: Author’s website

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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.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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