- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 21 hours and 39 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 21 Jan. 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00HWZF6DW
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Consciousness Explained Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
Daniel C Dennett. (1991)
Twenty six years is a long time in consciousness terms and having read Dennett’s “From Bach to Bacteria and Back” a few months ago I am convinced that Dennett’s completing the learning curve - and fast.
He speaks of rising “plasticity” of sense as humans learn, through repetition, the exhaustive check on their environment which will keep them alive. Humans are very good at it, he claims.
The text is rich in discovery, as Dennett pushes a theory gently forward he first embellishes it with reference to his own and others’ work (usually in that order), then he unpacks these short theses into their component parts and then reassembles them neatly, maybe rephrasing them in a concluding paragraph.
The sentence “this architecture was misdescribed by the popular press from the moment it was created” is a rather neat summary of what Dennett is about- unpacking and explicit posturing in order to advance his own propositions.
Having read “Bacteria to Bach...” first my front to back approach paid off (the Bach book was published in 2017) that’s 26 years of learning between the two. It shows, notwithstanding that the 1991 publication is quality on paper!
The book covers methodologies of evaluating consciousness then at areas like “show and tell” where he delves into practical demonstrations of how senses are enlivened by conscious thought and messages travel through from neuron to foot!
It is a deluge of original thought and yet was scribed 26 years ago - brilliant.
Ch10- “The natural but misguided assumption that after the brain has arrived at a discrimination or judgement, it re-presents the material on which its judgement is based” what was termed at my management school, tidying up the past”. Thus this is what Dennett terms “filling in” he quotes Libet (1985), Hundert (1987), Warren (1979) and Jackendoff (1987)
This text is full of fascinating material just like all of the above, for the consciously curious this book is a must.
20th October 2017
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.