Missives from a fly bottle
barang dot sg
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.


Search (Author or title)


2007

Henrik Lagerlund (ed.)
Forming the Mind: Essays on the Internal Senses and the Mind/Body Problem from Avicenna to the Medical Enlightenment
(Springer 2007)

This collection of essays deals with the internal senses, the mind/body problem and other problems associated with the concept of mind as it developed from Avicenna to the medical Enlightenment. It stresses how important and fruitful it is to see the time period between 1100 and 1700 as one continuous tradition, and brings together scholars working on the same issues in the Arabic, Jewish and Western philosophical traditions. Opens up several new and interesting perspectives on the history of the philosophy of mind. See Amazon | Google

Robin Le Poidevin
The Images of Time: An Essay on Temporal Representation
(Oxford 2007)

Le Poidevin examines how we perceive time and change, the means by which memory links us with the past, the attempt to represent change and movement in art, and the nature of fictional time. These apparently disparate questions raise fundamental problems for our philosophical understanding both of mental representation and of the nature of time itself. See Oxford | Amazon | Google | Ian B. Phillips review (pdf) | Roman Frigg review (pdf)

Yuval Dolev
Time and Realism: Metaphysical and Antimetaphysical Perspectives
(MIT 2007)

Is time’s passage merely an illusion? Analytic philosophers belong, for the most part, to one of two camps: the tensed camp, which defends the reality of time’s passage, and the tenseless camp, which denies time’s passage and holds that all events, whatever their temporal location, are ontologically equal. Dolev goes beyond this debate to argue that neither position is conclusive but that the debate should be seen as only the first stage in the philosophical investigation of time. The next stage, he claims, belongs to phenomenology, and, he argues further, the phenomenological analysis of time grows naturally out of the analytic enterprise. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Chris Frith
Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World
(Blackwell 2007)

Neuroscience and psychology often struggle to answer the really interesting questions about the mind. In this book, Frith shows that science can finally start explaining why we experience the world as we do. Anyone interested in human nature - not just the nuts and bolts of neural circuits - will find his storytelling compelling. Frith delves into topics such as delusions, illusions, imagination and imitation, bringing clarity and insight to simple observations and complex experiments alike. See Blackwell | Amazon | Google

Owen Flanagan
The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World
(MIT 2007)

If consciousness is “the hard problem” in mind science—explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity—then “the really hard problem,” writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book, is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of life naturalistically, without an appeal to the supernatural? How do we say truthful and enchanting things about being human if we accept the fact that we are finite material beings living in a material world, or, in Flanagan’s description, short-lived pieces of organized cells and tissue? See MIT | Amazon | Google

J. J. Valberg
Dream, Death and the Self
(Princeton 2007)

“Might this be a dream?” Valberg approaches this familiar question by seeking to identify its subject matter: what is it that would be the dream if “this” were a dream? It turns out to be a subject matter that contains the whole of the world, space, and time but which, like consciousness for Sartre, is nothing “in itself.” This subject matter, the “personal horizon,” lies at the heart of the main topics—the first person, the self, and the self in time—explored at length in the book. See Princeton | Amazon | Google

Bennett, Dennett, Hacker, Searle
Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language
(Columbia 2007)

Three philosophers and a neuroscientist clash over the conceptual presuppositions of cognitive neuroscience. The book begins with an excerpt from Bennett and Hacker’s Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003), which questions the conceptual commitments of cognitive neuroscientists. Their position is then criticized by Dennett and Searle, and Bennett and Hacker in turn respond. See Columbia | Amazon | Google

David J. Linden
The Accidental Mind
(Harvard 2007)

Linden counters the widespread assumption that the brain is a paragon of design, showing how the brain is in fact a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions piled on through evolutionary millennia. He also explains how the constraints of evolved brain design have led to almost every transcendent human foible: our long childhoods, our extensive memory, our search for love, our need to create narratives, and the universal cultural impulse for both religion and science. See Harvard | Google

Rocco Gennaro (ed.)
The Interplay Between Consciousness and Concepts
(Imprint 2007)

Questions like ‘What are concepts?’ and ‘What is it to possess a concept?’ are notoriously difficult to answer. Are concepts abstract mind-independent objects in some Platonic or Fregean sense, or better understood as constituents of thoughts? Is thought based on word-like mental representations? Does possessing a concept involve demonstrating some kind of ability? Such questions are tackled in this volume by both scientists and philosophers. See Imprint | Amazon | Google

B. McLaughlin & J. Cohen (eds.)
Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind
(Wiley 2007)

Leading contributors to the field take opposing views on ten central contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind. A thorough introduction provides a comprehensive background to the issues explored. See Wiley | Google

Sebastian Rödl
Self-Consciousness
(Harvard 2007)

Rödl’s thesis is that self-knowledge is not empirical. It does not spring from sensory affection, but is rather knowledge from spontaneity. Its object and source are the subject’s own activity, primarily its acts of thinking, both theoretical and practical – belief and action. In following Kant and his idealist successors, Rödl attempts to recover the achievement of the German Idealist tradition. See Harvard | Google

A. Chella & R. Manzotti (eds.)
Artificial Consciousness
(Imprint 2007)

An interdisciplinary collection on the topic of artificial consciousness from neuroscience to artificial intelligence, bioengineering to robotics. Includes extended and revised versions of the papers presented at the International Workshop on ‘Artificial Consciousness’ in November 2005 at Agrigento, Italy. See Imprint | Google

Daniel N. Robinson
Consciousness and Mental Life
(Columbia 2007)

Robinson begins with the ancient Greeks and continues through to Descartes, Hume, James, Dennett, Searle, Rorty, Putnam and Parfit. He identifies what makes the study of consciousness so problematic and asks whether cognitive neuroscience can truly reveal the origins of mental events, emotions, and preference, or if these occurrences are better understood by studying the whole person, not just the brain. See Columbia | Google

Daniel Heller-Roazen
The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation
(Zone 2007)

This book presents the archaeology of a single sense: the sense of being sentient. In twenty-five concise chapters that move freely among ancient, medieval, and modern cultures, Heller-Roazen investigates a set of exemplary phenomena that have played central roles in accounts of the nature of animal existence. Here sensation and self-sensation, sleeping and waking, aesthetics and anesthetics, perception and apperception, animal nature and human nature, consciousness and unconsciousness, all acquire a new meaning. An original, elegant, and far-reaching philosophical inquiry into a problem that has never been more pressing: what it means to feel that one is alive. See Zone Books | Amazon | Google

Casey O’Callaghan
Sounds: A Philosophical Theory
(Oxford 2007)

Vision dominates philosophical thinking about perception, and theorizing about experience in cognitive science has traditionally focused on a visual model. In a radical departure from established practice, Casey O'Callaghan provides a systematic treatment of sound and sound experience, and shows how thinking about audition and appreciating the relationships between multiple sense modalities can enrich our understanding of perception and the mind. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Mark Paterson
The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies
(Berg 2007)

Touch is the first sense to develop in the womb, yet often it is overlooked. This book examines the role of touching and feeling as part of the fabric of everyday, embodied experience. Taking a broadly phenomenological framework that traces tactility from Aristotle through the Enlightenment to the present day, the book examines the role of touch across a range of experiences including aesthetics, digital design, visual impairment and touch therapies. See Berg | Amazon | Google

Shaun Gallagher & Dan Zahavi
The Phenomenological Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science
(Routledge 2007)

Offering a fresh new approach, this clear and accessible book shows the relevance of phenomenology to contemporary investigations of the mind and brain. It will be useful for students and scholars alike in the cognitive sciences who wish to gain a better understanding of phenomenology and its relevance to their research. See Routledge (2nd edition 2012) | Google | Amazon

Lucy O’Brien
Self-Knowing Agents
(Oxford 2007)

O’Brien argues that a satisfactory account of first-person reference and self-knowledge needs to concentrate on our nature as agents. She considers two main questions. First, what account of first-person reference can we give that respects the guaranteed nature of such reference? Second, what account can we give of our knowledge of our mental and physical actions? With rigorous discussion of rival views, this book will be of interest to anyone working in the philosophy of mind and action. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Max Velmans & S. Schneider (eds.)
The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness
(Wiley 2007)

An extensive and comprehensive survey of the subject with fifty-five peer-reviewed chapters written by leading authors in the field. Topics include the origins and extent of consciousness, different consciousness experiences, such as meditation and drug-induced states, and the neuroscience of consciousness. See Wiley | Google | Amazon

R. T. Hurlburt & Eric Schwitzgebel
Describing Inner Experience? – Proponent Meets Skeptic
(MIT 2007)

Can conscious experience be described accurately? Hurlburt, a psychologist, argues that improved methods of introspective reporting make accurate accounts of inner experience possible; Schwitzgebel, a philosopher, believes that any introspective reporting is inevitably prone to error. See MIT Press Companion Site | Google Books

Paul Coates
The Metaphysics of Perception: Wilfrid Sellars, Critical Realism and the Nature of Experience
(Routledge 2007)

This book challenges contemporary direct realist theories of perception and defends a version of the causal theory that the author locates in the critical realist tradition of which Wilfrid Sellars is the main recent exponent. See Routledge | Google | Amazon | Review by Matthew Burstein

Ryan Nichols
Thomas Reid’s Theory of Perception
(Oxford 2007)

The first comprehensive interpretation of the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid’s theory of perception – by far the most important feature of his philosophical system. See Oxford University Press | Amazon | Google Books

Nikola Grahek
Feeling Pain and Being in Pain
(M.I.T. Press 2007, 2nd edition, with a foreword by Daniel Dennett)

Grahek examines two of the most radical dissociation syndromes to be found in human pain experience: pain without painfulness and painfulness without pain, showing that they have much to teach us about the true nature and structure of human pain experience. See M.I.T. Press | Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews | Amazon | Google Books

Heinämaa, Lähteenmäki, Remes (eds.)
Consciousness: From Perception to Reflection in the History of Philosophy
(Springer 2007 – Studies in the history of philosophy of mind, vol. 4)

This collection investigates ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern discussions in their original philosophical context and shows that, while the concept of consciousness was explicated relatively late in the tradition, its central features, such as reflexivity, subjectivity and aboutness, attained avid interest very early in philosophical debates. See Springer | Google Books

Bachmann, Breitmeyer, Ogmen (eds.)
Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness: A Brief Dictionary
(Oxford 2007)

The definitive collection of consciousness phenomena in which awareness emerges as an experimental variable. With its comprehensive yet succinct entries, arranged alphabetically, this dictionary will be a valuable reference tool for students, libraries, and researchers at all levels in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy who are investigating consciousness, cognition, perception, and attention. See Oxford (2nd edition 2011) | Amazon | Google

Zelazo, Moscovitch, Thompson (eds.)
The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness
(Cambridge 2007)

After decades of scientific illegitimacy, consciousness re-emerged as a popular focus of research at the end of the last century, and has remained so for nearly 20 years. There are now so many different lines of investigation that the field may benefit from a book that pulls everything together. An authoritative desk reference, suitable also as an advanced textbook. See Cambridge | Google

Ned Block
Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers, Volume 1
(MIT 2007)

This volume of Ned Block’s writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism. It brings together papers that have appeared primarily in journals and conference proceedings, can be regarded as Block’s most complete statement of his positions on consciousness. See MIT | Amazon | Google