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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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Gary Hatfield
Perception and Cognition: Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology
(Oxford 2009)

How do we see? This question has fascinated and perplexed philosophers and scientists for millennia. Hatfield’s essays on this ancient question address the psychological processes underlying spatial perception and perception of objects, psychological theories and metaphysical controversies about color perception and qualia, and the history and philosophy of theories of vision. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Jeff Mitscherling
Aesthetic Genesis: The Origin of Consciousness in the Intentional Being of Nature
(Univ. Press of America 2009)

Mitscherling argues for a reversal of the most fundamental tenet of phenomenology – namely, that all consciousness is intentional. He suggests, as a new “Copernican hypothesis,” that intentionality gives rise to consciousness. This book describes not only the origin, or “genesis,” of human cognition in sensation, but also the genesis of sensation from intentional structures belonging to nature itself. See U Press America | Amazon | Google

Lawrence Weiskrantz
Blindsight: A Case Study Spanning 35 Years and New Developments
(Oxford 2009, 2nd edition)

Blindsight is an unusual condition where the sufferer can respond to visual stimuli, while lacking any conscious feeling of having seen the stimuli.
Since the original edition of this now-classic book was published in 1986, further work has been done in this area, and this new edition brings the book up to date. This new addition retains the original text, while adding substantial new chapters and colour illustrations. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Patrick Grim (ed.)
Mind and Consciousness: 5 questions
(Automatic Press 2009)

Debates concerning the nature of mind and consciousness are active and ongoing. Grim interviews some of the foremost philosophers of mind, focusing on open questions, promising projects, and their own intellectual histories. Features Lynne Rudder Baker, David Chalmers, Daniel Dennett, Fred Dretske, Owen Flanagan, Samuel Guttenplan, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, John Heil, Terence Horgan, Douglas Hofstadter, Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, William Lycan, Alva Noë, Hilary Putnam, David Rosenthal, John Searle, Steven Stich, Galen Strawson, Michael Tye. See Automatic Press | Amazon | Google | Kamuran Gödelek review

Robert W. Lurz (ed.)
The Philosophy of Animal Minds
(Cambridge 2009)

Recent years have seen significant philosophical engagement with the subject of animal minds. The 14 new essays in this volume highlight the state of the debate. Issues covered include whether and to what degree animals think in a language or in iconic structures, possess concepts, are conscious, self-aware, metacognize, attribute states of mind to others, and have emotions, as well as our knowledge of and the scientific standards for attributing mental states to animals. See Cambridge | Amazon | Google

Robert D. Rupert
Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind
(Oxford 2009)

This book focuses primarily on the hypothesis of extended cognition, which asserts that human cognitive processes literally comprise elements beyond the boundary of the human organism. Rupert argues that the only plausible way in which to demarcate cognition is “systems-based.” It then becomes clear how extant arguments in support of the extended view go wrong. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Daniel Stoljar
(Routledge 2009)

Physicalism, the thesis that everything is physical, is one of the most controversial doctrines in philosophy. Its adherents argue that there is no more important creed in philosophy, whilst its opponents claim that its role is greatly exaggerated. In this superb introduction, Stoljar focuses on three fundamental questions: the interpretation, truth and philosophical significance of physicalism. See Routledge | Google | Amazon

John McDowell
Having the World in View: Essays on Kant, Hegel, and Sellars
(Harvard 2009)

McDowell argues that the roots of some problems plaguing contemporary philosophy can be found in issues that were first discerned by Kant, and that the best way to get a handle on them is to follow those issues as they are reshaped in the writings of Hegel and Sellars. See Harvard | Google

David Skrbina (ed.)
Mind that Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium
(John Benjamins 2009)

Panpsychism is the view that all things, living and nonliving, possess some mind-like quality. It contrasts sharply with the traditional notion of mind as the property of humans and a few select ‘higher animals’. Though surprising at first glance, panpsychism has a long and noble history in both Western and Eastern thought. Overlooked by materialist philosophers for most of the 20th century, it is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts. See John Benjamins | Google

Zoltan Torey
The Crucible of Consciousness
(MIT 2009, with a forward by Daniel Dennett)

Torey offers a theory of the mind and its central role in evolution. He traces the evolutionary breakthrough that rendered the brain accessible to itself and shows how the mind-boosted brain works. He identifies what separates the human’s self-reflective consciousness from mere animal awareness and argues that the neural technicalities of reflective awareness can be neither algorithmic nor spiritual – neither a computer nor a ghost in the machine. See MIT | Amazon | Google (Original 1999 edition)

Gordon G. Globus
The Transparent Becoming of World
(John Benjamins 2009)

A highly original inquiry into the quotidian world we take for granted and the brain that silently hoists our bubbles of world-thrownness. The continual becoming of world is explained by integrating process dynamics with quantum neurophilosophy. A rich ontological duality newly opened by quantum brain theory is exploited: the between-two of dual quantum modes. Existence as world-thrownness is between-two in waking and dreaming alike. See John Benjamins | Google

Antti Revonsuo
Consciousness: The Science of Subjectivity
(Psychology Press 2009)

This textbook on consciousness covers all the main approaches to the modern scientific study of consciousness and also gives the necessary historical, philosophical and conceptual background to the field. A readable and timely introduction to the science of consciousness for anyone interested in this compelling area. See Psychology Press | Google | Amazon

Nudds & O’Callaghan (eds.)
Sounds and Perception: New Philosophical Essays
(Oxford 2009)

A collection of original essays on auditory perception and the nature of sounds - an emerging area of interest in the philosophy of mind and perception, and in the metaphysics of sensible qualities. An introduction to the nature of auditory perception and the definitive resource for coverage of the main questions that constitute the philosophy of sounds and audition. See Oxford | Amazon | Google | Introductory chapter (pdf)

Uriah Kriegel
Subjective Consciousness: A Self-Representational Theory
(Oxford 2009)

Some mental events are conscious, some are unconscious. What is the difference between the two? Kriegel offers an answer. His aim is a comprehensive theory of the features that all and only conscious mental events have. The key idea is that consciousness arises when self-awareness and world-awareness are integrated in the right way. Conscious mental events differ from unconscious ones in that, whatever else they may represent, they always also represent themselves, and do so in a very specific way. See Oxford | Google | Amazon | Joseph Levine review

Galen Strawson
(Oxford 2009)

Strawson approaches the problem of the self by starting from the thing that makes it seem there is a problem in the first place: our experience of the self, our experience of having or being a self, a hidden, inner mental presence or locus of consciousness. He argues that we should consider the phenomenology (experience) of the self before we attempt its metaphysics (its existence and nature), concluding that selves, inner subjects of experience, do indeed exist, but they bear little resemblance to traditional conceptions of the self. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Jonathan Cohen
The Red and the Real
(Oxford 2009)

The Red and the Real offers a new approach to longstanding puzzles about colors and how they fit into the natural world. Cohen argues for a role-functionalist treatment of color, on which colors are identical to certain functional roles involving perceptual effects on subjects. He first argues (on broadly empirical grounds) for the general relationalist view that colors are constituted in terms of relations between objects, perceivers, and viewing conditions, then defends the more specific role functionalist-account as the most plausible form of color relationalism. See Oxford | Google | Amazon | Adam Pautz review

Christopher S. Hill
(Cambridge 2009)

Hill distinguishes six main forms of consciousness and sketches an account of each one. Later chapters focus on phenomenal consciousness, consciousness of, and introspective consciousness. In discussing phenomenal consciousness, Hill develops the representational theory of mind in new directions, arguing that all awareness involves representations, even awareness of qualitative states like pain. See Cambridge | Google | Amazon | Daniel Stoljar review | Scribd

Bayne, Cleeremans, Wilken (eds.)
The Oxford Companion to Consciousness
(Oxford 2009)

With over 250 concise entries written by leaders in the field, the volume covers both fundamental knowledge and recent advances in this rapidly changing domain. It is structured as an easy-to-use dictionary and extensively cross-referenced, with contributions from philosophy of mind to neuroscience, from experimental psychology to clinical findings. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.)
Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings
(MIT 2009)

Disjunctivism has gained prominent supporters in recent years, as well as attracting much criticism. This reader collects for the first time in one volume classic texts that define and react to disjunctivism. These include an excerpt from a book by the late J. M. Hinton, who was the first to propose an explicitly disjunctivist position, and essays stating a number of important objections. See M.I.T. Press | Google | Amazon | Tim Crane review (pdf)

William Fish
Perception, Hallucination and Illusion
(Oxford 2009)

The idea of a disjunctive theory of visual experiences first found expression in J. M. Hinton’s pioneering 1973 book Experiences. In the first monograph in this exciting area since then, William Fish develops a comprehensive disjunctive theory, incorporating detailed accounts of the three core kinds of visual experience – perception, hallucination, and illusion. See Oxford U Press | Google | Amazon

Michael Tye
Consciousness Revisited: Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts
(MIT Press 2009)

We are material beings in a material world, but we are also beings who have experiences and feelings. How can these subjective states be just a matter of matter? To defend materialism, philosophical materialists have formulated what is sometimes called “the phenomenal-concept strategy,” which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences. In Consciousness Revisited, the philosopher Michael Tye, until now a proponent of the the phenomenal-concept strategy, argues that the strategy is mistaken. See MIT Press | Amazon | Google Books | Sam Coleman review

Alva Noë
Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness
(Hill and Wang 2009)

Alva Noë restates and reexamines the problem of consciousness and then proposes a startling solution: do away with the two-hundred-year-old paradigm that places consciousness within the confines of the brain. See Hill and Wang (Macmillan) | Amazon | Google Books | Scientific American review | Salon interview with Alva Noë

Thomas Metzinger
The Ego Tunnel
(Basic Books 2009)

We’re used to thinking about the self as an independent entity, something that we either have or are. Thomas Metzinger claims otherwise: No such thing as a self exists. See Basic Books | Amazon | Google Books | YouTube - Metzinger explains it all in 15 minutes

Brian McLaughlin et al (eds.)
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind
(Oxford 2009)

Forty five surveys of a wide range of topics. The first two sections cover the place of the mind in the natural world: its ontological status, its fit into the causal fabric, and the nature of consciousness. The third section is on content and intentionality. The fourth examines a variety of mental capacities like memory, imagination, and emotion. The fifth looks at epistemic issues, in particular knowledge of one’s own and other minds. The volume concludes with a section on self, personhood, and agency. See Oxford | Google

Gilbert Ryle
The Concept of Mind: 60th Anniversary Edition
(Routledge 2009)

First published in 1949, this sixtieth anniversary edition of this twentieth-century classic is prefaced by a substantial critical commentary, ‘Rethinking Ryle,’ by Julia Tanney. See Routledge | Google

Richard Rorty
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: 30th Anniversary Edition
(Princeton 2009)

When it first appeared in 1979, this book hit the philosophical world like a bombshell. This special edition contains a new introduction by Michael Williams, a new afterword by David Bromwich, and Rorty’s previously unpublished essay ‘The Philosopher as Expert.’ See Princeton | Google | Michael Williams’s introduction (pdf)

Allan Combs
Consciousness Explained Better
(Paragon 2009)

A unique contribution, expressing the millennia-old struggle to understand consciousness. Combs encapsulates and synthesizes vast bodies of thought without dilution. This book satisfies with its comprehensiveness yet intrigues with all that remains enigmatic. It brings forward the yearning, the brilliance, the awe, and the outrageous audacity of our search to understand consciousness. See Paragon | Google | Amazon

Alexander M. Schlutz
Mind’s World: Imagination and Subjectivity from Descartes to Romanticism
(U Washington Press 2009)

As the faculty that mediates between self and world, imagination is indispensable for modern models of subjectivity. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Fichte, Hardenberg (Novalis) and Coleridge, and always returning to the ancient Greeks, Schlutz demonstrates that neither the unity of the subject, nor the unity of philosophical systems based upon it, can be conceptualized without recourse to imagination. See U Washington Press | Google

Faith Hickman Brynie
Brain Sense: The Science of the Senses and How We Process the World Around Us
(AMACOM 2009)

Why do you remember color images and scenes better than those in black and white? Why does that first cup of morning coffee taste better than anything you’ll have all day? The answer lies in the way our brains interpret and process the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches that make up our lives. Brynie explores the latest research on brain function and the senses and offers fascinating new insights about what makes us tick. See Amazon | Google

Peter T. Walling & Kenneth N. Hicks
Consciousness: Anatomy of the Soul
(AuthorHouse 2009)

Walling and Hicks make a direct assault on the “Everest” of scientific mysteries, tracing the first glimmerings of consciousness in evolution and during emergence from anesthesia. Unlike many philosophical books about consciousness, they have evidence to back up their ideas. This book is also an attempt to bridge the chasm between science and religion. See AuthorHouse | Amazon | Google