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3.7 out of 5 stars
47
3.7 out of 5 stars
Consciousness Explained (Penguin Science)
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on 12 November 2013
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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on 26 July 2015
Worth reading twice. Very insightful and mind expanding
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on 22 July 2008
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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on 6 March 2017
Reasonable considering its age.
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on 11 April 2017
Great price and service
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on 8 April 2015
As described and arrived on time.
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on 16 June 2010
In this undoubtedly opinionated book, Dennett explains and entertains in equal measure. He draws widely on various fields such as Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience in his description of an explanation of consciousness. No, it's not a simple explanation - it wasn't ever going to be! Well worth the effort - I'm now working my way through Freedom Evolves - even more challenging!
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on 7 October 2014
totally amazing
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on 23 July 2014
An excellent book.
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on 27 May 2015
Good book. Good service
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