29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2001
The author uses his own experiences with the depths and details of consciousness, namely the effects at the loss of his wife, to draw out the possible boundaries of human consciousness. He then combines this sensitive and introvert approach with ideas attached to physics, in an attempt to quantify and explore consciousness, all the while maintaining a measured and balanced approach to the topic.
What I particularly like about it is that at no point does the author force any point down your throat. He rather uses the approach 'Well, this is the conclusion we get, if you follow and believe the premises we set.' He approaches emotional topics with due care and sensitivity, but, since discussions on consciousness are difficult to approach scientifically, what one person considers balanced and careful, another may consider blindingly wrong. I personally feel that he maintains a good balance. His discussions on the involvement in physics are measured and scientific (obviously :-)), but perhaps maybe unclear to the layman.
He also uses the book to help show the depth of human character by interspacing throughout small sections dedicated to memories he had with his wife. Some may feel this pointless and only adding unscientific nonsense to what should be a totally scientific problem. I however, feel it adds poinyancy and a deeper understanding to the true meaning of consciousness, and helps show that the author has taken time to understand every aspect and perspective of the problem.
All in all, an engrossing and challenging book. Definitely recommended to any who wish to further their understanding.
on 24 July 2013
How would you judge an scientist who wrote about bacteria without ever having looked down a microscope? He wants the soon without the soup. Well this is how I felt while reading Physics of Consciousness. Evan Harris Walker writes about consciousness without ever having tried out some consciousness tools himself. Sticking to an academic wrestling match over qualia is merely flogging a dead horse. I mean no disrespect to Evan Harris Walker because the first half of his book is an absolute gem. After the dazzling first half, the quality of Harris Walker's book plumeted like a stone. I am a fan of Zen Buddhism and I appreciate Buddhist ontology; but trying to apply Zen to consciousness studies is analogous to commenting about sex before going through puberty. Thus this book is half brillian, half frustrating. The science part is dazzling, like I said above, but the consciousness part is autistic. It is autistic because it completely ignores the consciousness revolutions that took place in the USA some 60 years ago.
The authors of The Quantum Enigma joked that the students who got high in the 1960's (in the USA, that is), are now running the university departments and this is why consciousness is making a big comback in physics. However, from what I gathered from reading this book, the kids in Australia only ever tried D.T. Suzuli's version of Zen Buddhism. This frustrated me because talking about Zen is like a kid getting excited over a rubber duck, when the kid next door is playing the latest PS3 or Xbox game.
So the first part of this book is the stand out introduction to physics, and by a man who really knows his subject. Evan Harris Walker knows he can write too, and so some of his descriptions of Newton's ideas border on brilliant literature. Its better to read great literature, than it is rummaging through a dry science text, and so this book really is the best introduction to science you can ask for. Harris Walker also explains why scientific materialism is in serious trouble, this is good news.
Now some of the reviewers on Amazon are annoyed by the nostalgia parts about the mans childhood sweethart, but I found them interesting meditations on the fleetings nature of appearences. Well they are interesting if one has studied Buddhist notions of time and fleeting nature of appearences, and all that. However I must admit, even my patience was waining thin by Meryle's flowing hair and red lips!. But hey, you can just skip those parts