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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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Craig Bourne
A Future for Presentism
(Oxford 2006)

Presentism, the view that only the present exists, was a much neglected position in the philosophy of time for a number of years. Recently, however, it has been enjoying a renaissance among philosophers. This book is meant as a timely contribution to this fast growing and exciting debate. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Carole P. Biggam & Christian Kay (eds.)
Progress in Colour Studies: Volume I. Language and Culture
(John Benjamins 2006)

Along with its companion volume, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into the current avenues of research into colour, a phenomenon which affects our lives in often surprising ways. The majority of the papers originated in a 2004 conference entitled ‘Progress in Colour Studies’ which was held in the University of Glasgow. The contributions to this first volume, which is principally linguistic and anthropological in content, and to its companion on the psychological aspects of colour, present either summaries of state-of-the-art colour research in various disciplines, or in-depth accounts of certain aspects of such work. See John Benjamins | Amazon | Google

Nicola Pitchford & Carole P. Biggam (eds.)
Progress in Colour Studies: Volume II. Psychological Aspects
(John Benjamins 2006)

The study of colour attracts researchers from a wide range of disciplines from both the sciences and the arts. This volume, principally psychological in content, focuses on the development of colour perception and colour language, from infancy into adulthood, across a diverse range of cultures, including English, Himba, Chinese, and Mexican, and on the intriguing yet perplexing condition of synaesthesia, thus bridging research from the physiology, psychology and anthropology of colour. See John Benjamins | Amazon | Google

Vwadek P. Marciniak
Towards a History of Consciousness: Space, Time, and Death
(Peter Lang 2006)

A cogent and compelling discussion of the neglected topic of the history of consciousness. An analysis of our postmodern ontology reveals deep but neglected roots. What are these roots and how did they grow? Is there a self without consciousness? What is the relation of the self to the individual? Does the recognition of death contribute to the growth of consciousness? As a survey of western history, this work pushes our understanding of consciousness in intriguing and provocative directions. See Peter Lang | Amazon | Google

Jonathan Bricklin (ed.)
(Eirini Press 2006)

William James’s notion of pure experience, which he termed sciousness – consciousness without the self – was used by the philosopher Kitaro Nishida to explain Zen tathata (suchness) to the Japanese themselves. As this collection of James’s essays makes clear, Western practitioners of Zen may claim their spiritual inheritance from the “father of American psychology.” Includes material and commentary from Seng-ts’an, Bricklin and Theodore Flournoy. See Eirini Press | Amazon | Google

Antti Revonsuo
Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon
(MIT 2006)

Revonsuo proposes a novel approach to consciousness that integrates findings from philosophy, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience into a coherent theoretical framework. Arguing that any fruitful scientific approach must consider both the subjective psychological reality of consciousness and the objective neurobiological reality, he proposes the strategy of “biological realism,” using tools of the empirical biological sciences. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Gerald M. Edelman
Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
(Yale 2006)

Advancements in brain science are opening up new perspectives on how we acquire knowledge. Indeed, it is now possible to explore consciousness – the very center of human concern – by scientific means. Edelman offers a new theory of knowledge based on striking scientific findings about the brain and foresees a day when brain-based devices will be conscious. See Yale | Google | Amazon

Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.)
Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge
(Oxford 2006)

‘Phenomenal’ indicates conscious experience. Phenomenal knowledge is knowledge of conscious experience. Phenomenal concepts are concepts associated with that knowledge: those that express phenomenal qualities from the experiencing subject’s perspective. What is the nature of such knowledge and concepts? How are they related to physical knowledge and physical concepts? These are among the questions addressed by the essays in this volume. See Oxford | Google

Alan Gilchrist
Seeing Black and White
(Oxford 2006)

How the human visual system determines the lightness of a surface – its whiteness, blackness, or grayness – remains, like vision in general, a mystery. No current machine can determine, through artificial vision, if an object is white, black, or gray. Although the receptors in the eye are driven by light, the light reflected by a surface does not reveal its shade of gray. Depending upon the illumination, a surface of any shade of gray can reflect any amount of light. Gilchrist presents the first comprehensive, historical survey of empirical work on lightness over the past 150 years. See Oxford | Google

Nicholas Humphrey
Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness
(Harvard 2006)

“Consciousness matters. Arguably it matters more than anything. The purpose of this book is to build towards an explanation of just what the matter is.” Nicholas Humphrey begins this compelling exploration of the biggest of big questions with a challenge to the reader, and himself. What’s involved in “seeing red”? What is it like for us to see someone else seeing something red? See Harvard | Google

Paul S. MacDonald
History of the Concept of Mind, Volume 2
(Ashgate 2006)

Exploring the roads less travelled, MacDonald continues his monumental investigation of the history of ideas. This volume takes the reader from the earliest records about human nature in Ancient Egypt, the Ancient Near East and the Zoroastrian religion, through the secret teachings in the Hermetic and Gnostic scriptures and into the transformation of ideas about the mind, soul and spirit in the late antique and early medieval epochs. See Ashgate | Amazon | Google

Galen Strawson
Consciousness and its Place in Nature
(Imprint 2006)

For the last five years Strawson has provoked a mixture of shock and scepticism with his carefully argued case that physicalism entails panpsychism. In this book Strawson provides the fullest and most careful statement of his position to date, throwing down the gauntlet to his critics — including Peter Carruthers, Frank Jackson, David Rosenthal and Jack Smart — by inviting them to respond in print. The book concludes with Strawson’s response to his commentators. See Imprint | Google | Amazon | Jerry Fodor review

Jean Matter Mandler
The Foundations of Mind: Origins of Conceptual Thought
(Oxford 2006)

Mandler presents a new theory of cognitive development in infancy, focusing on the processes through which perceptual information is transformed into concepts. Countering both strong nativist and empiricist views, Mandler provides a fresh and markedly different perspective on early cognitive development, painting a new picture of the abilities and accomplishments of infants and the development of the mind. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Pockett, Banks & Gallagher (eds.)
Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?
(MIT 2006)

Our intuition tells us that we, our conscious selves, cause our own voluntary acts. Yet scientists have long questioned this; Thomas Huxley, for example, in 1874 compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of a locomotive. New experimental evidence (most notable, work by Benjamin Libet and Daniel Wegner) has brought the causal status of human behavior back to the forefront of intellectual discussion. This multidisciplinary collection advances the debate, approaching the question from a variety of perspectives. See MIT Press | Google | Amazon

U. Kriegel & K. Williford (eds.)
Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness
(MIT 2006)

In this pioneering collection of essays, leading theorists examine the self-representational theory of consciousness, which holds that consciousness always involves some form of self-awareness. This theory stands as an alternative to the two dominant reductive theories of consciousness, the representational theory of consciousness (RTC) and the higher-order monitoring (HOM) theory, combining elements of both in a novel fashion that may avoid the deficiencies of each. See MIT Press | Google | Amazon

Daniel Stoljar
Ignorance and Imagination: The Epistemic Origin of the Problem of Consciousness
(Oxford 2006)

The correct response to the problem of consciousness, Stoljar argues, is not to posit a realm of experience distinct from the physical, nor to deny the reality of phenomenal experience, nor even to rethink our understanding of consciousness and the language we use to talk about it. Instead, we should view the problem as a consequence of our ignorance of the relevant physical facts. Stoljar shows that this change of orientation is well motivated historically, empirically, and philosophically, and that it has none of the side effects it is sometimes thought to have. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (eds.)
Perceptual Experience
(Oxford 2006)

A collection of new work by fifteen of the world's leading philosophers covering sensation and representation, consciousness and awareness, and the connections between perception and knowledge and between perception and action. A resource for both philosophers and psychologists. See Oxford U Press | Google | Amazon

Steven Laureys (ed.)
The Boundaries of Consciousness: Neurobiology and Neuropathology
(Elsevier 2006)

This volume (Progress in Brain Research, vol. 150) confronts the latest theoretical insights in the scientific study of consciousness with the most recent behavioral, neuroimaging, electrophysiological, pharmacological and neuropathological data on brain function in altered states of consciousness like brain death, coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, locked-in syndrome, dementia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, hysteria, general anesthesia, sleep, hypnosis, and hallucinations. See Amazon | Google Books

A. Batthyany & A. Elitzur (eds.)
Mind and its Place in the World – Non-Reductionist Approaches to the Ontology of Consciousness (Ontos Verlag 2006)

Why are some brain processes accompanied by conscious awareness? This anthology points out new sources and unexamined paths of consciousness research. See Ontos Verlag | Front Matter & Introduction (pdf) | Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews | Google Books

Errol E. Harris
Reflections on the Problem of Consciousness
(Springer 2006)

The essential puzzle of consciousness is how the electro-chemical activity constantly occurring in the brain translates into the conscious experience we enjoy. Harris considers attempts by several important neuroscientists and philosophers to address the question and makes his own suggestions. See Amazon | Google Books

Anthony Freeman (ed.)
Radical Externalism – Honderich’s Theory of Consciousness Discussed
(Imprint 2006)

Eleven leading philosophers subject Honderich’s theory of “consciousness as existence” to criticism, with responses by Honderich. See Imprint | Amazon.

Hane Htut Maung
Consciousness: An Enquiry Into the Metaphysics of the Self
(Lulu 2006)

The phenomenon of consciousness is something that is intimate to all of us, for it is the crux of our subjective being. Most of us have, at some point, pondered its nature and existence. This book provides a philosophical analysis of the mind-body problem and the nature of consciousness. In the face of contemporary dogma, it argues against physicalism, and instead proposes a position called idealistic dualism, which acknowledges consciousness for what it is: our very existence. See Lulu | Google

Jonathan C. W. Edwards
How Many People are There in My Head? And in Hers? – An Exploration of Single Cell Consciousness
(Imprint 2006)

Edwards proposes that the only possible solution to the ‘mind-brain’ problem is that each nerve cell is conscious separately and that we have no other ‘global’ consciousness. We are colonies of sentient micro-organisms, each unaware of the sentience of the others, led to believe it is ‘me.’ This counterintuitive idea may resolve several paradoxes hidden in the closets of brain research laboratories. See Imprint | Amazon | Google