Missives from a fly bottle
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Last revised 31 August 2017
Books on consciousness

A list of books relating to the hard problem of consciousness. Regularly updated cos I keep finding new stuff all the time.

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Michael Hymers
Wittgenstein on Sensation and Perception
(Routledge 2017)

Hymers offers two novel claims about Wittgenstein’s views of perception in the Philosophical Investigations. First, that Wittgenstein’s views on sensation and perception, including his critique of private language, have their roots in his reflections on sense-datum theories and on what Hymers calls the misleading metaphor of phenomenal space. Second, that Wittgenstein’s critique of this misleading metaphor is of ongoing relevance because we are still tempted to draw inferences about the phenomenal that only apply to the physical. See Routledge | Amazon | Google

Raymond Tallis
Of Time and Lamentation: Reflections on Transience
(Agenda Publishing 2017)

For most of us, time is composed of mornings, afternoons, and evenings and expressed in hurry, hope, longing, waiting, enduring, planning, joyful expectation, and grief. Thinking about it is to meditate on our own mortality. Yet, physics has little or nothing to say about this time, the time as it is lived. The story told by caesium clocks, quantum theory, and Lorentz coordinates, Tallis argues, needs to be supplemented by one of moss on rocks, tears on faces, and the long narratives of our human journey. Our temporal lives deserve a richer attention than is afforded by the equations of mathematical physics. See Agenda | Amazon | Google

Alan Burdick
Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation
(Simon & Schuster 2017)

“Time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it’s always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly? Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how time gets in us and why we perceive it the way we do. See Simon & Schuster | Amazon | Google

Philip Goff
Consciousness and Fundamental Reality
(Oxford 2017)

Argues against the dominant solution to the mind-body problem – physicalism – and explores and defend a radically new alternative: Russellian monism. Various forms of Russellian monism are surveyed and key challenges discussed. The penultimate chapter defends a cosmopsychist form of Russellian monism, according to which all facts are grounded in facts about the conscious universe. See Oxford | Amazon | Google | Philip Goff’s page

Daniel Dennett
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
(W. W. Norton 2017)

In Dennett’s most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought. See W. W. Norton | Amazon | Google

Michael Tye
Tense Bees and Shell-Shocked Crabs: Are Animals Conscious?
(Oxford 2017)

Do birds have feelings? Can fish feel pain? Could a honeybee be anxious? For centuries, the question of whether animals are conscious has prompted debates among philosophers and scientists. Blending the latest research about animal sensation with theories about the nature of consciousness, Tye develops a methodology for addressing the mysteries of the animal mind and offers answers to some increasingly pressing questions. See Oxford | Amazon | Google