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Last revised 20 January 2018
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.

Within author/title. Enter alphabets and spaces only. Case-insensitive. E.g., ramachandran brain


Erick Raphael Jiménez
Aristotle’s Concept of Mind
(Cambridge 2017)

Jiménez examines Aristotle’s concept of mind (nous), a key concept in Aristotelian psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology. Drawing on a close analysis of De Anima, he argues that mind is neither disembodied nor innate, as has commonly been held, but an embodied ability that emerges from learning and discovery. Connecting this to Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology, Jiménez shows how this concept of mind fits within Aristotle’s wider philosophy. See Cambridge | Amazon | Google

Sebastian Watzl
Structuring Mind: The Nature of Attention and How it Shapes Consciousness
(Oxford 2017)

What is attention? How does attention shape consciousness? In an approach that engages with foundational topics in the philosophy of mind, the theory of action, psychology, and the neurosciences this book provides a unified and comprehensive answer to both questions. The first half of the book provides an account of the nature of attention while the second concerns the relationship between attention and consciousness. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Keith Frankish (ed.)
Illusionism: as a Theory of Consciousness
(Imprint 2017)

Illusionism is the view that phenomenal consciousness is an illusion. This reprint of a special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies takes the form of a target paper by the editor, followed by commentaries from various thinkers, including leading defenders of the theory such as Daniel Dennett, Nicholas Humphrey, Derk Pereboom and Georges Rey. See Imprint | Amazon | Google

Ted Honderich
Mind: Your Consciousness is What and Where?
(Reaktion Books 2017)

This important new book tackles the great problem of philosophy of mind. Honderich proposes to entirely replace all major competing general theories of consciousness with the theory of Actualism: a theory that rests on data that you share yourself, of consciousness that can be labelled as being actual. See Reaktion Books | Amazon | Google

Markus Gabriel
I am Not a Brain: Philosophy of Mind for the 21st Century
(Polity 2017, trans. Christopher Turner)

In this book, philosopher Markus Gabriel challenges an increasing trend in the sciences towards neurocentrism, a notion which rests on the assumption that the self is identical to the brain. Gabriel raises serious doubts as to whether we can know ourselves in this way. In a sharp critique of this approach, he presents a new defense of the free will and provides a timely introduction to philosophical thought about the self – all with verve, humor, and surprising insights. See Polity | Amazon | Google

Robert Kirk
Robots, Zombies and Us: Understanding Consciousness
(Bloomsbury 2017)

Could robots be genuinely intelligent? Could they be conscious? Could there be zombies? Prompted by these questions Robert Kirk introduces the main problems of consciousness and sets out a new approach to solving them: a version of functionalism, according to which consciousness consists in the performance of functions. See Bloomsbury | Amazon | Google

Jonardon Ganeri
Attention, Not Self
(Oxford 2017)

An account of mind in which attention, not self, explains the experiential and normative situatedness of human beings in the world. This is a contribution to a growing body of work that studies the nature of mind from a place at the crossroads of three disciplines: philosophy in the analytical and phenomenological traditions, contemporary cognitive science and empirical work in cognitive psychology, and Buddhist theoretical literature. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Emmanuel Alloa
Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty
(Fordham 2017)

A handrail for venturing into the complexities of the work of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Through a comprehensive analysis of the three main phases of his thinking and a thorough knowledge of Merleau-Ponty’s many unpublished manuscripts, Alloa traces how Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy evolved and exposes the remarkable coherence that structures it from within. See Fordham | Amazon | Google

Riccardo Manzotti
Consciousness and Object: A Mind-Object Identity Physicalist Theory
(John Benjamins 2017)

What is the conscious mind? What is experience? In 1968, David Armstrong asked “What is a man?” and replied that a man is “a certain sort of material object”. This book starts from his question but proceeds along a different path. The traditional mind-brain identity theory is set aside, and a mind-object identity theory is proposed in its place: to be conscious of an object is simply to be made of that object. Consciousness is physical but not neural. See John Benjamins | Amazon | Google

Mark Textor
Brentano’s Mind
(Oxford 2017)

A critical study of the work of Franz Brentano, one of the most important thinkers of the nineteenth century. His work has influenced analytic philosophers like Russell as well as phenomenologists like Husserl and Sartre, and continues to shape debates in the philosophy of mind. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Kate Cole-Adams
Anesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness
(Counterpoint 2017)

First there’s the injection, then counting backwards from ten—and suddenly, you’re awake. This book is the story of the time in-between, an exploration of that baffling gift of modern medicine: the disappearing act that enables us to undergo procedures which would otherwise be impossibly, often fatally, painful. See Counterpoint Press | Amazon | Google

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