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on 24 May 2013
Blackmore has admirable clarity in explaining complex ideas, and this gives this book merit in providing an intelligible summary of many of the concepts and arguments that have arisen in modern consciousness studies. However, there are shortcomings in her coverage of some important areas. Near the beginning of the book, she assumes a dismissive attitude to any connection between consciousness and decision making, which does not do justice to what recent neuroscience has to say about the brain's reward circuit. Her claim that only the dorsolateral prefrontal area, which is involved in executive planning and reasoning, has any impact on decision making looks questionable in the light of this research. Lengthy chapters in the middle of the book deal with the brain's processing of temporal sequences and lack of attention to much of the visual field, but ultimately this amounts to nothing more than saying that the brain provides a model or representation of the external world that is adaptive rather than particularly accurate or comprehensive. As such it says nothing about the origin or function of consciousness itself.

In particular, the author promotes a very specific theory of consciousness, without giving readers of what is supposed to be a starter or introductory book, a proper view of the alternatives. The idea offered here is 'delusionism', the proposition that consciousness is a delusion. Many consciousness researchers consider that evolution would not have selected for consciousness if it had no purpose, but rather than properly discussing the reasons for rejecting this view, the author uses what is no more than a play on the word 'zombie' (important in some versions of consciousness studies), to avoid discussing this crucial topic. Lacking this, the 'delusional' project looks to fail, without offering readers much development of the alternatives.
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on 21 December 2016
I'll start with the good:
Very interesting, refreshingly honest in its assessments of the challenge of studying consciousness a phenomenon, and the neuroscience was very interesting. However...

This book was a worship piece to scientism, rather than truly scientific. It was riddled with contradiction to the point that "you" finish up having neither read nor experienced the book as you don't exist.

Ironically the problem of explaining consciousness is subjectivity, and this book is much more the authors opinions than I'd bought it for
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on 7 May 2013
Good overview of the current thinking on 'what is consciousness' by the brains of out time. It is a series of interviews with academics from different backrounds - science, philosophy etc. on what is consciousness and where/how does it work? Really useful as a synopsis without having to plough through a tone of other books. It is also really thought provoking, as we kind of take consciousness a given. It is pretty good stuff and links in science, psychology and philosophy - from different peoples perspectives. Recommended.
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on 23 May 2010
This is a very useful book. Conversations often reveal quickly where a person stands on a controversial issue. Here Blackmore pursues free will, the existence of an 'I' and the zombie argument (the latest thought experiment to challenge materialism) with an array of neuroscientists and philosophers. This is cutting edge philosophy and the thinkers are packaged into short readable chapters, making this book approachable for anyone with some background in philosophy, or a strong desire to find out what is going on.
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on 19 May 2018
A fine little book
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on 23 December 2013
This book si hard to read, being a mash-up of interviews with totally different people, with unique perspectives and ideas about theory of mind. If you can navigate through the maze of ideas, it is a fascinating journey. This book has been deeply inspiring and thought provoking. I find it best read in small doses, with intervals for contemplation!
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on 30 January 2017
Yet to get to grips with it but it seems succinct
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on 7 February 2016
very good read
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on 23 October 2017
Very concise but also comprehensive.
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on 12 January 2016
fine
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