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Consciousness Explained (Penguin Science) Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Length: 530 pages

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Product Description

About the Author

Daniel Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea. He is currently the Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5713 KB
  • Print Length: 530 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316180661
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Jun. 1993)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #201,951 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This rather long and sometimes rambling book achieves at least two thirds of what I expected. Dennett completely demolishes the Cartesian Dualism model, showing through anecdote and experiment that ideas of a separate mind and body are completely out of touch with reality.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to dismantling ideas that are built on this model, I found the non-linear, revisionist perception of time to be one of the most powerful and thought provoking revelations.
Drawing from many fields of science (computing, psychology, neurology and evolutionary biology to name a few) he then goes on to describe his alternative model for consciousness. His multiple drafts theory is empirical, making falsifiable scientific predictions and I believe his description to be an accurate one.

The book is sometimes quite difficult to follow, philosophy is rarely an easy read but I've come to expect popular science writers to speak plainly, where Dawkins coins snappy and self-explanatory words such as "meme" or "concestor" Dennett's "heterophenomenology" is a nine syllable monster. Also it is not a riveting read, it has taken me almost a year to finally finish this book. I enjoyed the experiments, anecdotes, evolutionary biology and computer science much more than the reams of prelude and philosophical reasoning. In my opinion it would have been better as two books, one a highly technical exploration of the philosophy of mind and another popular science for the layman. I would have enjoyed the latter much more.

Finally I think that the title is misleading, it did transform my understanding of human consciousness but it raised as many new questions as it answered. I am no closer to understanding what consciousness is, what it means to be, or whether consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe or an emergent pattern in matter. Perhaps "Consciousness Described" would have been a more fitting title.
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Format: Paperback
"Everything But Consciousness Explained." Not my quote but it is totally true. All the book's explanations of the systems associated with consciousness and perception are marvellous. There is a lot to learn here and the mechanistic approach is admirable. However, this book doesn't deal with consciousness itself.

After discussing consciousness with various people, some well educated in philosophy and science, others who are insightful and others who are just regular guys, I have come to a conclusion. There are some people who do know what is meant by consciousness and there are others who just don't. Even some of the quite clever people. It's not about explaining it, I mean just knowing what is meant by consciousness as a word when used in a normal sentence. Daniel Dennett, unfortunately doesn't seem to know.

The trouble is, all of the brilliant explanations of what happens inside a brain make you forget that the initial problem wasn't to do with how the brain can process information. It was, how can we be _aware_ of information. Or indeed, _aware_ at all. If you can see the difference then you know what the word consciousness refers to.

It's a bit like if Newton had written a book called Forces Explained. Newton deduced that forces exist and elegantly expressed their interactions with matter. However, he was well aware that he didn't actually know what forces were. He was just very good at dealing with their consequences in terms of mathematical descriptions. D.D. explains many of the consequences and issues of having consciousness but fails to understand that these don't explain consciousness itself at all.

I'm rating it high because it's a good book. Just don't be misled by the title.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The contemporary debate, amongst philosophers and cognitive scientists, on the mind body problem seems odd to an outsider. The debate is unreal. We know there is something called "mind stuff" which effects how we feel, what we do, and how we relate to others. This stuff is real. We can describe how it makes us feel, and observers, can see how it effects our behaviour. Everyday life is full of "mind stuff". The idealist view that mind is an immaterial substance doesn't ring true. "Mind stuff", is real and visible, communicated to us everyday. The debate on phenomenal "qualia" and "content-bearing" mental states, and whether these are ultimately reducible to brain states, seems to fly in the face of reality. What we feel; is the "I" in a world made up of "mind stuff"; not isolated moments of sensory or intentional mental states. How can there be a totally physical explanation of the workings of the mind? Even if psycho-biological research knew everything there is to know about the workings of the human brain, that would not tell us anything about "mind stuff". While philosophers and cognitive scientists, look to bridge the "explanatory gap"; cognitive psychologists and neurologists, focus their attention on "mind stuff" and "brain stuff" respectively (ignoring the whole idea of mind-body "subvenience").

This is a great book, for making up your own mind. Dennett brilliantly takes us through all the contemporary findings and investigations of cognitive science without offering a solution to the "explanatory gap". The fact that he moved on to the subject of evolutionary biology in his subsequent books suggests he feels the gap is unbridgeable with present knowledge.
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