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)


Petr Glombíček & James Hill (eds.)
Essays on the Concept of Mind in Early-Modern Philosophy
(Cambridge Scholars 2010)

The essays in this volume discuss different aspects of the philosophical theories of mind put forward in the century and a half that followed Descartes’ Meditations of 1641. These years, often referred to as the ‘early-modern’ period, are probably unparalleled for originality and diversity in conceiving the mind. The volume not only includes two essays on Descartes’ own thinking, but examinations of what Spinoza, Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, Reid, the Cambridge Platonists, and others, have to say about the nature of mind. All the essays appear here for the first time. See Cambridge Scholars | Google

Campbell, O’Rourke & Silverstein (eds.)
Time and Identity
(MIT 2010)

The concepts of time and identity seem at once unproblematic and frustratingly difficult. This volume of original essays brings together these two essentially related concepts in a way not reflected in the available literature, making it required reading for philosophers working in metaphysics and students interested in these topics. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Mark Rowlands
The New Science of the Mind: From Extended Mind to Embodied Phenomenology
(MIT 2010)

There is a new way of thinking about the mind that does not locate mental processes exclusively “in the head.” Rowlands investigates its conceptual foundations and explains that this is actually an old way of thinking about the mind in a new form. He clarifies the ideas of embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended mind, and develops a unified philosophical account that some think will be the basis of a new science of the mind. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Richard Menary (ed.)
The Extended Mind
(MIT 2010)

Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? In their 1998 paper ‘The Extended Mind,’ Andy Clark and David Chalmers posed this question and answered it provocatively: cognitive processes “ain’t all in the head.” This volume brings together for the first time the best responses to Clark and Chalmers’s bold proposal. Together with the original 1998 paper, they offer a valuable overview of the latest research on the extended mind thesis. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Lawrence Shapiro
Embodied Cognition
(Routledge 2010)

Shapiro sets out the central debates surrounding embodied cognition and its challenge to standard cognitive science, explaining and assessing the work of key figures in the field such as Lakoff, Noë, Clark, and Glenberg. Topics covered include dynamic systems theory, ecological psychology, robotics, and connectionism, followed by core issues in the philosophy of mind such as mental representation and extended cognition. See Routledge | Amazon | Google

Basile, Kiverstein, Phemister (eds.)
The Metaphysics of Consciousness
(Cambridge 2010)

What is consciousness? What is its place in nature? This new collection of essays by leading contemporary philosophers of mind and historians of philosophy seeks to address these questions and create a new and fruitful forum for future discussion. Features in-depth examinations not solely of mainstream physicalist doctrines, but also of largely neglected positions such as Cartesian dualism, idealism, and panpsychism. See Cambridge | Amazon | Google

Siderits, Thompson, Zahavi (eds.)
Self, No Self?: Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological, and Indian Traditions
(Oxford 2010)

The nature and reality of self has been central to Indian and Tibetan philosophical traditions for over 2,000 years. Leading philosophical scholars of the Indian and Tibetan traditions now join with leading Western philosophers of mind and phenomenologists to explore issues about consciousness and selfhood from these multiple perspectives. Essential reading for philosophers and cognitive scientists interested in the nature of the self and consciousness. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Paul L. Nunez
Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality
(Oxford 2010)

Nunez discusses the possibility of deep connections between relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and consciousness: all entities involved with fundamental information barriers. He elaborates on possible new links in this nested web of human knowledge that may tell us something new about the nature and origins of consciousness. Does the brain create the mind? Or is the mind already out there? See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Michel Meulders
Helmholtz: From Enlightenment to Neuroscience
(MIT 2010)

Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-94) was one of most remarkable figures of 19th-century science. He made significant contributions to the study of vision and perception and was also influential in the painting, music, and literature of the time. This book, the first in English to describe Helmholtz’s life and work in detail, describes his scientific studies, analyzes them in the context of the science and philosophy of the period, and gauges his influence on today’s neuroscience. See MIT | Google

Tim Bayne
The Unity of Consciousness
(Oxford 2010)

Bayne draws on philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience in defence of the claim that consciousness is unified. He starts by explaining what it means to say that consciousness is unified. He then considers a variety of cases in which the unity of consciousness is said to break down, arguing in each case that consciousness remains unified. Finally, he explores the implications of all this for theories of consciousness. See Oxford | Google

Raffaella de Rosa
Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation
(Oxford 2010)

While much has been written on Descartes' theory of mind and ideas, no systematic study of his theory of sensory representation and misrepresentation is currently available in the literature. This book is an ambitious attempt to fill this gap. It argues against the established view that Cartesian sensations are mere qualia by defending the view that they are representational, and it has the advantage of providing an adequate solution to the problem of sensory misrepresentation within Descartes' internalist theory of ideas. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Mark Changizi
The Vision Revolution
(BenBella 2010)

Changizi, prominent neuroscientist and vision expert, addresses four areas of human vision – Why do we see in color? Why do our eyes face forward? Why do we see illusions? Why does reading come so naturally to us? – and provides explanations for these abilities of ours, complete with full-color illustrations to demonstrate his conclusions and to engage the reader. Written for both the casual reader and the science buff hungry for new information, this is a resource that dispels commonly believed perceptions about sight and offers answers drawn from the field’s most recent research. See BenBella | Google | Amazon

Susanna Siegel
The Contents of Visual Experience
(Oxford 2010)

What do we see? We are visually conscious of colors and shapes but are we also visually conscious of complex properties such as being John Malkovich? Siegel develops a framework for understanding the contents of visual experience and argues that these contents involve all sorts of complex properties. She starts by analyzing the notion of the contents of experience and by arguing that we should accept that experiences have contents. She then introduces a method for discovering the contents of experience: the method of phenomenal contrast. This method relies only minimally on introspection and allows rigorous support for claims about experience. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

J. Cohen & M. Matthen (eds.)
Color Ontology and Color Science
(MIT 2010)

Philosophers and scientists have long speculated about the nature of color. Atomists such as Democritus thought color to be "conventional," not real; Galileo and other key figures of the Scientific Revolution thought that it was an erroneous projection of our own sensations onto external objects. More recently, philosophers have enriched the debate about color by aligning the most advanced color science with the most sophisticated methods of analytical philosophy. See MIT Press | Google | Amazon

William Fish
Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge 2010)

Fish introduces the subject thematically, setting out the major theories of perception together with their motivations and attendant problems. While providing historical background to debates in the field, his comprehensive overview focuses on recent presentations and defenses of the different theories, looking beyond visual perception to take into account the role of other senses. See Routledge | Google | Amazon

Gangopadhyay, Madary, Spicer (eds.)
Perception, Action, and Consciousness
(Oxford 2010)

This book explores the relationship between perception and action from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. A key focus is the debate between action-oriented theories of visual perception and the dual-visual systems hypothesis. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

David Chalmers
The Character of Consciousness
(Oxford 2010)

What is consciousness? How does the subjective character of consciousness fit into an objective world? How can there be a science of consciousness? In this sequel to his groundbreaking and controversial The Conscious Mind (1996), David Chalmers develops a unified framework that addresses these questions and many others. See Oxford U Press | Google | Amazon

Bence Nanay (ed.)
Perceiving the World
(Oxford 2010)

This volume aims to give a representative sample of new approaches in philosophy of perception. Eleven original essays written specially by some of the leading contemporary philosophers of perception. See Google | Oxford U Press

Alison Gopnik
The Philosophical Baby
(Picador 2010)

Babies have long been excluded from the philosophical literature, and in this absorbing text, Gopnik argues that if anything, babies are more conscious than grownups. While adults often function on autopilot, getting through their busy days as functional zombies, babies, with their malleable, complex minds and penchant for discovery, approach life like little travelers, enthralled by every nuance of their exciting and novel environment. See Picador | Amazon | Google Books | New York Times review | Scientific American review | Barnes & Noble review | Guardian review | Gopnik on YouTube

Antonio Damasio
Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain
(Pantheon 2010)

Damasio has spent the past 30 years studying how the brain operates and his work has garnered acclaim for its singular melding of the scientific and the humanistic. In this book, he goes against the long-standing idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the body, presenting compelling new scientific evidence that consciousness – what we think of as a mind with a self – is a biological process created by a living organism. See Pantheon with videos and other links | Amazon | Google Books | A. C. Grayling review | Ned Block review

R. C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.)
The Waning of Materialism
(Oxford 2010)

Twenty-three philosophers examine the doctrine of materialism and find it wanting. The case against it comprises arguments from conscious experience, the unity and identity of the person, intentionality, mental causation, and knowledge. A wide variety of alternatives to the materialist conception of the person also receive new attention, including anti-materialist versions of naturalism, property dualism, Aristotelian and Thomistic hylomorphism, and non-Cartesian accounts of substance dualism.

See Oxford University Press | Amazon | Google Books

Elaine Perry et al (eds.)
New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness
(John Benjamins 2010)

Although neuroscience has not yet answered the question of how consciousness can be explained in terms of brain activities, the subject continues to intrigue scientists and philosophers. This volume encourages neuroscientists to think ‘outside the box’ with new concepts and approaches. The result is a fascinating cornucopia of new ideas, based on the fundamentals of neurobiology, psychology, psychiatry and therapy. See John Benjamins | Google

Robert B. Pippin
Hegel on Self-Consciousness: Desire and Death in the Phenomenology of Spirit
(Princeton 2010)

In the most influential chapter of his most important philosophical work, the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel makes the central and disarming assertions that “self-consciousness is desire itself” and that it attains its “satisfaction” only in another self-consciousness. Pippin presents a new interpretation of these revolutionary claims, tracing their roots to Kant’s philosophy and demonstrating their continued relevance for contemporary thought. See Princeton | Amazon | Google