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Consciousness Paperback – 1 Jan 2005
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From the Author
This book aims to make recent philosophical work on consciousness
accessible to newcomers to the area, using techniques the Open University
has successfully developed over the last 30 years--guiding students through
the key positions and arguments, and using carefully edited readings and
extensive questions, activities, and discussions of answers. It provides a
sound grounding in the current debate about consciousness and will enable
the reader to adopt an informed position on the issue.
Although written for an Open University course, the book is completely
self-contained and assumes no prior knowledge of the subject area. It is an
ideal introduction to the philosophy of consciousness, both for the general
reader and for students.
More information about the book is available at:
Top customer reviews
The book is in five chapters. The first is easy enough, with the various modern common usages of the term 'consciousness' being disentangled, and the most problematic one, that of phenomenal consciousness, identified in a rough and ready way. The second chapter bypasses the traditional waffle on Cartesian substance dualism and goes straight for the more recent position of naturalistic property dualism, examining the Knowledge Argument as propounded by Frank Jackson with the help of Mary the colour scientist, and the Conceivability Argument of David Chalmers (following Kripke) and his zombies. The third chapter gives us the responses of the mainstream physicalists to the property dualists. Against the Knowledge Argument we have Dennett's general cautions on thought experiments, David Lewis's ability argument and Michael Tye's perspectivalism. Against conceivability we have Dennett and his zimbos. The pros and cons of all these positions are explored. Chapter three finishes with a look at the subtleties of Levine's explanatory gap, at which point the book is probably at its most demanding. Chapter four on representationalism was for me the most enjoyable, and one that clarified a number of positions I had encountered elsewhere in my reading. It begins with Tye's exposition of first order representational or FOR theory. This is followed by the rather more tricky account of David Rosenthal's higher order thought or HOT variation of higher order representationalism or HOR theory. I found myself getting quite agitated by Rosenthal's confusing and often perverse terminology, but eventually came to see that, while I didn't find his theory convincing, (when is a thought not a thought?), it certainly raised difficult questions that demand answers. The fifth chapter is the shortest and is entirely devoted to the ideas propounded by Dennett in his (in)famous Consciousness Explained and the controversial and highly counterintuitive eliminativist conclusions he draws.
The author, Keith Frankish, whoever he is, is to be praised for having marshalled this diverse and difficult material into such a concise and incisive format.