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Consciousness: An Introduction

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Is there a theory that explains the essence of consciousness? Or is consciousness itself just an illusion? The "last great mystery of science," consciousness was excluded from serious research for most of the last century but is now a rapidly expanding area of study for students of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. Recently the topic has also captured growing popul Is there a theory that explains the essence of consciousness? Or is consciousness itself just an illusion? The "last great mystery of science," consciousness was excluded from serious research for most of the last century but is now a rapidly expanding area of study for students of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. Recently the topic has also captured growing popular interest. This groundbreaking book is the first volume to bring together all the major theories of consciousness studies--from those rooted in traditional Western philosophy to those coming out of neuroscience, quantum theory, and Eastern philosophy. Broadly interdisciplinary, Consciousness: AnIntroduction is divided into nine sections that examine such topics as how subjective experiences arise from objective brain processes, the basic neuroscience and neuropathology of consciousness, altered states of consciousness, mystical experiences and dreams, and the effects of drugs and meditation. It also discusses the nature of self, the possibility of artificial consciousness in robots, and the question of whether or not animals are conscious. Enhanced by numerous illustrations and profiles of important researchers, the book also includes self-assessment questions, further reading suggestions, and practical exercises that help bring the subject to life.

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Is there a theory that explains the essence of consciousness? Or is consciousness itself just an illusion? The "last great mystery of science," consciousness was excluded from serious research for most of the last century but is now a rapidly expanding area of study for students of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. Recently the topic has also captured growing popul Is there a theory that explains the essence of consciousness? Or is consciousness itself just an illusion? The "last great mystery of science," consciousness was excluded from serious research for most of the last century but is now a rapidly expanding area of study for students of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. Recently the topic has also captured growing popular interest. This groundbreaking book is the first volume to bring together all the major theories of consciousness studies--from those rooted in traditional Western philosophy to those coming out of neuroscience, quantum theory, and Eastern philosophy. Broadly interdisciplinary, Consciousness: AnIntroduction is divided into nine sections that examine such topics as how subjective experiences arise from objective brain processes, the basic neuroscience and neuropathology of consciousness, altered states of consciousness, mystical experiences and dreams, and the effects of drugs and meditation. It also discusses the nature of self, the possibility of artificial consciousness in robots, and the question of whether or not animals are conscious. Enhanced by numerous illustrations and profiles of important researchers, the book also includes self-assessment questions, further reading suggestions, and practical exercises that help bring the subject to life.

30 review for Consciousness: An Introduction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Morteza Ansarinia

    It's not a one-shot reading book, as in a single day. I was usually reading a chapter or two in a day and leaving the rest of the day mumbling new words and thinking about them. Chapters are all short and can be read in a half of an hour or less. Also it is not that hard-reading book written for cognitive science or philosophy students, but a thought provoking and easy to read one for all. To be specific I've liked these sections (each consists of 3 or more chapters): Artificial Consciousness whi It's not a one-shot reading book, as in a single day. I was usually reading a chapter or two in a day and leaving the rest of the day mumbling new words and thinking about them. Chapters are all short and can be read in a half of an hour or less. Also it is not that hard-reading book written for cognitive science or philosophy students, but a thought provoking and easy to read one for all. To be specific I've liked these sections (each consists of 3 or more chapters): Artificial Consciousness which explorers philosophy of mind topics; The Brain in which some NCCs for vision and pains (neural correlates of consciousness) are investigated; and Evolution on how it's been shaped and why we might feel it right now; finally the Self section, in three chapters, analysis studies regarding agency and free will (a favorite). Overall it contains nine sections of 27 chapters, all worth reading. There seemed no particular or necessary order of reading, and it does not seem like a philosophy of mind book; it looks up real world scientific facts. The author fueled each chapter with some exercises and practical practices to make philosophical stuff more interesting; and she succeeded!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tyson Schindler

    Spoiler alert! Consciousness, and it's by-product, free will, are mere illusions. But, useful and (somewhat) necessary ones. A great introductory (i.e. short and written for the layperson) exposition into human ("is there any other kind?" is a topic included) consciousness...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kayson Fakhar

    کاملاً مختصر مفید. احتمالاً یه ادیشن دیگه بود ولی فارسیش ۲۰۰ صفحست.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This is very much like a textbook, and the best textbook I've read. What a great book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tien Manh

    Discusses attention, perception, vision, vision/motor, "the self", volition (agency)...and how in understanding each of these domains, the "hard problem" of subjectivity remains: what's it like to be having that experience? The author walks through many examples of brain defects, injuries and experiments, all questioning the "grand illusion", the "cartesian theater", and that there is probably a lot more going on in our heads than we are really aware (which is also probably an illusion). Book also Discusses attention, perception, vision, vision/motor, "the self", volition (agency)...and how in understanding each of these domains, the "hard problem" of subjectivity remains: what's it like to be having that experience? The author walks through many examples of brain defects, injuries and experiments, all questioning the "grand illusion", the "cartesian theater", and that there is probably a lot more going on in our heads than we are really aware (which is also probably an illusion). Book also discusses other topics related to consciousness, such as alternate states, drugs, sleep, and meditation. It IS a textbook, so I find it hard to summarize here! The book will make you question your existence and awareness, but it will be a good read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacob van Berkel

    Too comprehensive for me, think I would've preferred the Very Short Introduction

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I have to read this for one of my university classes and actually finished reading the entire book before the course even started. (Never thought that would happen to me). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Consciousness is one of the most fascinating mysteries of science and the combination of science and philosophy to address this phenomenon was captivating. My favorite section by far was the one on artificial consciousness. However, toward the end of the book the chapters seem to be less I have to read this for one of my university classes and actually finished reading the entire book before the course even started. (Never thought that would happen to me). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Consciousness is one of the most fascinating mysteries of science and the combination of science and philosophy to address this phenomenon was captivating. My favorite section by far was the one on artificial consciousness. However, toward the end of the book the chapters seem to be less and less related to consciousness. The „Paranormal“ chapter seemed entirely out of place and the „Waking up“ chapter was essentially an in-depth explanation of Buddhism. The connection with consciousness for the last few chapters seemed more like a poor excuse to write about these topics, than to use them to investigate consciousness. Edit: I recently had the chance to attend a lecture by the author of this book, Susan Blackmore, on the topic of free will. It was informative and entertaining and Susan Blackmore was enthusiastic and full of energy, which made the lecture even more engaging. So if you ever get the chance to attend one of her talks, I highly recommend it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Semiophrenic

    It is definitely an introduction, but over 450 pages is not "very short." The main concern in this book lies with the chasm between material brain and immaterial consciousness. It is written as a textbook, embraces many aspects of human consciousness, explains theories and introduces ideas. The jorgon demands some gnawing through, especially when one meets the words "homunculus," "skein," and "phlogiston" in the same sentence and does not happen to have a dictionary at hand. The best bits, I thi It is definitely an introduction, but over 450 pages is not "very short." The main concern in this book lies with the chasm between material brain and immaterial consciousness. It is written as a textbook, embraces many aspects of human consciousness, explains theories and introduces ideas. The jorgon demands some gnawing through, especially when one meets the words "homunculus," "skein," and "phlogiston" in the same sentence and does not happen to have a dictionary at hand. The best bits, I think, concern the construction of artificial intelligences, important cases of brain damages (the study of which has yielded knowledge of brain functioning), as well as "lighter" topics such as drugs, dreams and meditation. A whole chapter is devoted to lucid dreaming! And a bit of practical warning: coinciding overconsumption of alcohol and underconsumption of food may lead to permanent damage to one's memory (Korsakoff's syndrome). The book is thorough and very informative.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Björn

    Though merely an introduction, Susan Blackmore's CONSCIOUSNESS is surprisingly thorough. So thorough, in fact, that one occasionally wishes she'd just get on with it. This book is full to the brim with theories, hypothesis and potential explanations – which are all interesting, especially in light of the fact that consciousness is very difficult even to define. I give this book high marks, especially due to its logical and clear structure. I imagine that it can be used as a reference work, and in Though merely an introduction, Susan Blackmore's CONSCIOUSNESS is surprisingly thorough. So thorough, in fact, that one occasionally wishes she'd just get on with it. This book is full to the brim with theories, hypothesis and potential explanations – which are all interesting, especially in light of the fact that consciousness is very difficult even to define. I give this book high marks, especially due to its logical and clear structure. I imagine that it can be used as a reference work, and indeed that is how I'm going to approach it from now on. I hope to return to its fascinating chapters many times in the future.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Not a very good textbook. Way too informal and disorganized. A lot of the content was interesting, but there was an awful amount of filler - I felt like it could have been edited down to a quarter of its size easily. Sometimes it felt like a book for early high school students, but at the same time contained upper level university content. I also would have liked to see a whole lot more science/psychology and a whole lot less opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Azaïs Hunter

    As the title would indicate this book introduces consciousness. It is well written and neutral, and covers many competing theories from a scientific point. If you follow the exercises, then this will probably change the way you think about many of the problems and experiences raised by consciousness. But as the author had warned, the book will leave you perplexed about consciousness at the end. A very good read and highly enlightening.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Superb. Actually a text book for graduate psychology students, but eminently readable and truly makes you think about what consciousness is (?), and what it is not, which is what most role believe! Am I conscious now? I believe I'm conscious but I'm not so sure about you. Read it with Steven Pinker, 'How the Mind Works'.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Damon

    Brilliant summary of issues in consciousness studies from phil of mind, neuro of mind, non ordinary mind and much more. Essential primary text for the B.A. in liberal studies course I will teach post MA grad next year!! The answer is: substance monism, property dualism, humanistic enrichment of the neurologic and Grofian holotropic theory!! Poo on Dennett and his mechanistic nonsense.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    It took me a long time to slog all the way through this. After all, it really is a college textbook more than anything else. However, even years later I find myself recalling things from it and have a real appreciation both for the author's writing and the subject itself. I do occasionally go back and read small sections.

  15. 4 out of 5

    James M. Madsen, M.D.

    An extremely readable and user-friendly textbook introduction to a complex but important subject, with appropriate considerations of the main bodies of thought on consciousness. Very highly recommended!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Petri Poikolainen

    Eight months of reading, hard topics, full of interesting and thought provoking stories. Good start for learning more about consciousness.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Will Napier

    Textbook for one of the modules I teach. Good, clear. Plugs Buddhism at the end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aloysius

    Consciousness, a really hard topic to teach much less write about. Book follows a more philosophical route - which is fine, but personally I'm more a neuroscience/neuropsych-ish believer.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin Ramos

    What is consciousness? What is qualia? Hard Problem? Mind-body problem? Mary experiment

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard Houchin

    This is a great book for an introduction on consciousness and the human sensory organs. Chock full of fun examples of things like saccades and blind spots, this is an easy read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Excellent introduction.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonathanstray Stray

    Clear, insightful, open minded, yet ABSOLUTELY NO HIPPIE BULLSHIT on a topic that is really rife with it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Great overview of the problems, studies, and state of thought surrounding human consciousness. Easy to read, and a great introduction for anyone intrigued by the subject.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kaovsh Hosseyni

    A perfect and clean survey of controversial points over consciousness. Every statement of the books worth reading. I enjoyed reading this precious book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    Great introduction into the major problems of thinking about consciousness.

  26. 5 out of 5

    J

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arielly Perez

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alvin Sloan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Han Vertegaal

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dominique Lengersdorf

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