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)


Susie Vrobel
Fractal Time: Why a Watched Kettle Never Boils
(World Scientific 2011)

An introduction to the notion of fractal time, starting with a perceptual puzzle: how subjective duration varies, depending on the way we embed current content into contexts. This temporal contextualization is described against the background of the notion of fractal time. Our temporal interface, the Now, is portrayed as a fractal structure arising from the distribution of content and contexts in two dimensions: the length and depth of time. The leitmotif of the book is the notion of simultaneity, which determines the temporal structure of our interfaces. See Amazon | Google

Udo Thiel
The Early Modern Subject: Self-Consciousness and Personal Identity from Descartes to Hume
(Oxford 2011)

Thiel explores the understanding of self-consciousness and personal identity—two fundamental features of human subjectivity—as it developed in early modern philosophy. He explains the arguments of thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, and Hume, as well as their early critics and other contemporaries, and situates them within their historical contexts. Interest in the issues of self-consciousness and personal identity is in many ways characteristic and even central to early modern thought, but Thiel broadens their scope considerably, covering more than a hundred years of philosophical debate in France, Britain, and Germany. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

G. William Barnard
Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson
(SUNY 2011)

Barnard examines the brilliant, but now largely ignored, insights of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941). He highlights how Bergson’s understanding of the nature of consciousness and, in particular, its relationship to the physical world remain strikingly relevant to numerous contemporary fields. Bergson’s notion of consciousness as a ceaselessly dynamic, inherently temporal substance of reality itself provides a vision that can function as a persuasive alternative to mechanistic and reductionistic understandings of consciousness and reality. See SUNY | Amazon | Google

Biggam, Hough, Kay & Simmons (eds.)
New Directions in Colour Studies
(John Benjamins 2011)

Colour studies attracts an increasingly wide range of scholars from across the academic world. Contributions to the present volume offer a broad perspective on the field, ranging from studies of individual languages through papers on art, architecture and heraldry to psychological examinations of aspects of colour categorization, perception and preference. The chapters have been developed from papers and posters presented at a conference on Progress in Colour Studies (PICS08) held at the University of Glasgow. See John Benjamins | Amazon | Google

Adrian Bardon (ed.)
The Future of the Philosophy of Time
(Routledge 2011)

The last century has seen enormous progress in our understanding of time. This volume features original essays by the foremost philosophers of time discussing the goals and methodology of the philosophy of time, and examining the best way to move forward with regard to the field’s core issues. See Routledge | Amazon | Google

Craig Callender (ed.)
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time
(Oxford 2011)

Twenty-three specially written essays by leading figures in their fields, this is the first comprehensive collaborative study of the philosophy of time. Covers not just the metaphysics of time, and our experience and representation of time, but the role of time in ethics and action, and philosophical issues in the sciences of time, especially with regard to quantum mechanics and relativity theory. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Patricia Kitcher
Kant’s Thinker
(Oxford 2011)

Kant’s discussion of the relations between cognition and self-consciousness is widely believed to contain important insights into cognition and self-consciousness, but is also viewed as unusually obscure. Many philosophers simply steer clear of the transcendental psychology that Kant employs. Kitcher however argues that, far from being an exercise in armchair psychology, the thesis that thinkers must be aware of the connections among their mental states offers an astute analysis of the requirements of rational thought. See Oxford | Amazon | Google | Nick Stang review

W. J. Mander
British Idealism: A History
(Oxford 2011)

The first ever synoptic history of British Idealism, the philosophical school which dominated English-language philosophy from the 1860s through to the early years of the following century. Offering detailed examination of the origins, growth, development, and decline of this mode of thinking, Mander restores to its proper place this now almost wholly forgotten period of philosophical history. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Georges Dicker
Berkeley’s Idealism: A Critical Examination
(Oxford 2011)

Dicker examines both the destructive and constructive sides of Berkeley’s thought against the background of the mainstream views that he rejected, showing how the Principles and the Dialogues dovetail and complement each other in a seamless way. In addition to relating Berkeley’s work to his contemporaries, Dicker discusses work by today’s top Berkeley scholars, and uses notions and distinctions forged by recent and contemporary analytic philosophers of perception. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Walter Hopp
Perception and Knowledge: A Phenomenological Account
(Cambridge 2011)

A provocative and clearly argued account of the role of perception in the production of knowledge. Hopp argues that perceptual experiences do not have conceptual content. What makes them play a distinctive epistemic role is not what they share with beliefs, but something that in fact sets them radically apart. He explains that the reason-giving relation between experiences and beliefs is what Husserl called ‘fulfilment’ – in which we find something to be as we think it to be. See Cambridge | Amazon | Google

Peter Carruthers
The Opacity of Mind: An Integrative Theory of Self-Knowledge
(Oxford 2011)

It is widely believed that we have privileged and authoritative access to our own thoughts. Carruthers argues instead that our access to our thoughts is almost always interpretive, grounded in perceptual awareness of our circumstances and behavior, together with our sensory imagery (including inner speech). In fact, it is no different in principle from our access to the thoughts of other people. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

T. Alter & R. J. Howell (eds.)
Consciousness and The Mind-Body Problem: A Reader
(Oxford 2011)

The challenge that conscious experience poses to physicalism has spawned a great deal of literature. This collection of 33 classic and contemporary readings, organized into five sections, covers the major issues in the debate: the challenge for physicalism, physicalist responses, alternative responses, the significance of ignorance, and mental causation. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Roessler, Lerman & Eilan (eds.)
Perception, Causation, and Objectivity
(Oxford 2011)

A ‘commonsense realist’ holds that perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of their nature. Over the centuries, this view has faced formidable challenges from epistemology, metaphysics, and cognitive science, but there is now renewed interest in it. This volume collects 19 original essays by leading philosophers and psychologists on these topics. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Charles Landesman
Leibniz’s Mill: A Challenge to Materialism
(U Notre Dame Press 2011)

The title of this book is taken from Leibniz’s famous metaphor in support of a dualism between the mind, or self, and the body. Landesman’s basic claim, argued with clarity and philosophical precision, is indeed that dualism is to be preferred to materialism; namely, the self is not reducible to the body, mental processes are not reducible to brain processes, and the idea that the self is a mental substance constitutes the best understanding of all the facts of mental life. See U Notre Dame Press | Google

Shaun Gallagher (ed.)
The Oxford Handbook of the Self
(Oxford 2011)

Research on the topic of self has increased significantly in recent years across a number of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, psychopathology, and neuroscience. This volume is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that address questions in all of these areas. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Michael Gazzaniga
Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain
(Constable & Robinson 2011)

Since physical laws govern our brains, they must govern our behaviour and conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the prevailing mantra; we live in a “determined” world. Not so, argues Gazzaniga, as he explains how the mind “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Ranging across neuroscience, psychology and ethics, he shows how wrong it is to blame our brains for our behaviour. We are responsible agents who are accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains. See Constable & Robinson | Google

William Jaworski
Philosophy of Mind: A Comprehensive Introduction
(Wiley 2011)

Introduces readers to one of the liveliest fields in contemporary philosophy by discussing mind-body problems and the various solutions to them. A detailed yet balanced overview of the entire field that enables readers to jump immediately into current debates. Includes a systematic explanation of how a hylomorphic theory like Aristotle’s can vie with current mind-body theories. See Wiley | Google

Mark Baker & Stewart Goetz (eds.)
The Soul Hypothesis
(Continuum 2011)

What do we mean when we speak of the soul? What are the arguments for the existence of the soul as distinct from the physical body? Do animals have souls? What is the difference between the mind and the soul? This volume brings together experts from philosophy, linguistics and science to discuss the validity of these questions in the modern world. A refreshingly open-minded collection of new essays, all philosophically and scientifically well-informed, demonstrating that soul-body dualism is far from being a defunct hypothesis. See Continuum | Google

Stewart Goetz & Charles Taliaferro
A Brief History of the Soul
(Wiley 2011)

The concept of the soul is accepted in many religious traditions and widely used in fiction, and yet the idea that we are anything more than physio-chemical organisms seems out of step with contemporary secular thinking. Scratch the surface of western philosophy, however, and you will find a history filled with arguments in favour of the idea that we are embodied souls. See Wiley | Google

Uriah Kriegel
The Sources of Intentionality
(Oxford 2011)

Intentionality is supposed to be one the marks of the mental. But what is its nature? One familiar approach explains intentionality in terms of an ability to reliably track things in the environment. But a different approach, enjoying a recent resurgence, explains it rather in terms of an intrinsic ability of conscious experience to direct itself. Kriegel attempts a synthesis of both, grounding intentionality both in reliable tracking and in conscious experience. See Oxford | Google

Tim Bayne & M. Montague (eds.)
Cognitive Phenomenology
(Oxford 2011)

It is widely agreed that there is such a thing as sensory phenomenology and imagistic phenomenology. But is there also a distinctive “cognitive phenomenology” associated with conscious thought? If so, what is its nature and what are the implications? This collection of new essays provides a state-of-the-art account of the issues at stake. See Oxford | Google

Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner
Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness
(Oxford 2011, 2nd edition)

Physicists built quantum mechanics, and found, to their embarrassment, an encounter with consciousness. Rosenblum and Kuttner therefore turn to exploring consciousness itself – and encounter quantum mechanics. Free will and anthropic principles become crucial issues and the connection of consciousness with the cosmos suggested by some leading quantum cosmologists is mind-blowing. See quantumenigma.com | Google

Arthur Melnick
Phenomenology and the Physical Reality of Consciousness
(John Benjamins 2011)

The predominant view that consciousness is realized in brain activity fails to capture what consciousness is like according to how it shows itself to conscious beings. Melnick proposes instead that consciousness exists in and throughout the body. Apart from whether or not it involves intentionality or awareness of the self, consciousness is self-intimating, self-revealing, self-disclosing. Self-disclosure is the definitive phenomenological character of consciousness in all its forms. See John Benjamins | Google

Fiona Macpherson (ed.)
The Senses: Classic and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives
(Oxford 2011)

The senses constitute the different ways we have of perceiving the world, such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. But how many senses are there? How many could there be? What makes them different? What interaction takes place between them? Together with an extensive introduction, this book contains the key classic papers on this subject together with nine newly commissioned essays. See Oxford | Google | Questia

K. Hawley & F. Macpherson (eds.)
The Admissible Contents of Experience
(Wiley 2011)

Which objects and properties are represented in perceptual experience, and how are we able to determine this? The papers in this collection address these questions together with other fundamental questions about the nature of perceptual content. See Wiley | Google

Derk Pereboom
Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism
(Oxford 2011)

Explores how physicalism might best be defended against the knowledge and conceivability arguments. One proposal asks whether introspection might represent phenomenal properties as having certain characteristic qualitative natures which they actually lack. A different proposal is that currently unknown fundamental intrinsic properties provide categorical bases for known physical properties while yielding an account of consciousness. A third theme is a defense of a nonreductive account of physicalism. See Oxford | Google | Emmett Holman review

Nicholas Humphrey
Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness
(Princeton 2011)

What biological purpose does consciousness serve? Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey proposes a startling new theory. Consciousness, he argues, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage for ourselves inside our own heads. It lights up the world for us and makes us feel special and transcendent. Thus consciousness paves the way for spirituality, and allows us, as human beings, to reap the rewards, and anxieties, of living in what Humphrey calls the “soul niche.” See Princeton | Google | New York Times review

Harold Langsam
The Wonder of Consciousness
(MIT 2011)

Langsam’s intent is to get the philosophy of mind away from the endless and distracting debates about whether consciousness is physical or not. He shows that there are substantive things that we can discover about consciousness merely through philosophical reflection. See MIT Press | Google

Thomas Green
The Nature of Colour
(Cranmore 2011)

When a typical human visually perceives the world it appears to be coloured. Many people believe this appearance is illusory because the world itself is devoid of colour; on this view colours arise within and are located within the perceivers of the world. Thomas Green outlines various views of the relationship between the location of colour, the perceiver of colour, and the nature of the unperceived world. He suggests there are good reasons to believe both that the colours perceivers perceive are located in the unperceived world and that perceived objects appear to be the colour they are because of the make-up of the perceiver. See Google | Amazon

J. Kevin O’Regan
Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness
(Oxford 2011)

Seeing is not passively receiving information in the brain but a way of interacting with the world. The role of the brain is not to create visual sensation but to enable the necessary interactions with the world. This approach is also extended to the other senses: hearing, touch, taste and smell. This "sensorimotor" approach leads to scientifically verifiable predictions and new research directions. See Oxford | Amazon | Google | J. Kevin O’Regan’s website

Galen Strawson
The Evident Connexion
(Oxford 2011)

This book presents a new reading of Hume's 'bundle theory' of the self or mind, and his later rejection of it. Strawson argues that the bundle theory does not claim that there are no subjects of experience, as many have supposed, or that the mind is just a series of experiences. Hume holds only that the 'essence of the mind [is] unknown'. His claim is simply that we have no empirically respectable reason to believe in the existence of a persisting subject, or a mind that is more than a series of experiences (each with its own subject). See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Lawrence Nolan (ed.)
Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate
(Oxford 2011)

Fourteen new essays trace the historical development of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. This volume focuses on the age of the Scientific Revolution, the locus classicus of the distinction, but begins with ancient Greek and Scholastic accounts to identify its origins. The remainder is devoted to philosophical reflections from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Virtually every major figure is represented from Gassendi to Kant, and special attention is paid to Locke, Descartes, and Hume. See Oxford | Google | Amazon | Nolan’s introduction (pdf)

Mole, Smithies & Wu (eds.)
Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays
(Oxford 2011)

Fourteen chapters of the latest thinking from philosophers and psychologists about the nature and mechanisms of attention, the relation between attention and consciousness, the role of attention in explaining reference, thought and the control of action, the metaphysical status of attention and the details of its implementation in the brain. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Russell T. Hurlburt
Investigating Pristine Inner Experience
(Cambridge 2011)

You live your entire waking life immersed in your inner experiences but are probably unaware of their characteristics. Hurlburt shows how to apprehend inner experience in high fidelity. A pioneer in using beepers to explore inner experience, he draws on his 35 years of studies to provide fascinating and provocative views of everyday inner experience and experience in bulimia, adolescence, the elderly, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, virtuosity and more. See Cambridge | Google | Amazon

Susan Blackmore
Zen and the Art of Consciousness
(Oneworld 2011)

Acclaimed psychologist Susan Blackmore combines the latest scientific theories about mind, self and consciousness with a lifetime’s practice of Zen. Prepared to step beyond the bounds of conventional investigation and scrutinise her own mind and experiences, she discovers that the time-honoured teachings of Zen provide dazzling insights into some of today’s greatest scientific mysteries. See Oneworld | Google | Amazon | Sue Blackmore's site

John McDowell
Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge
(Marquette 2011)

For the past three decades, McDowell has been trying to draw epistemologists’ attention to what he calls a blind spot in their theorizing. Occupying this blind spot is a view on which perception is a capacity “to get into states that consist in having a certain feature of the objective environment perceptually present to one’s self-consciously rational awareness,” so that “in non-defective exercises of a perceptual capacity subjects get into perceptual states that provide indefeasible warrant for perceptual beliefs.” It is the primary purpose of his 2011 Aquinas Lecture, Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge, to remind us once again of this blind spot. See Marquette | Google | Amazon | Tim Black review

J. Dunham, I. H. Grant & S. Watson
Idealism: The History of a Philosophy
(Acumen 2011)

The rediscovery of Idealism is an unmistakable feature of contemporary philosophy. Heavily criticised by the dominant philosophies of the twentieth century, it is being reconsidered in the twenty-first as a rich and untapped resource for contemporary philosophical arguments and concepts. This volume provides a comprehensive portrait of the major arguments and philosophers in the Idealist tradition. See Acumen | Google | Amazon

Dimitris Platchias
Phenomenal Consciousness
(McGill-Queen’s 2011)

How can the fine-grained phenomenology of conscious experience arise from neural processes in the brain? A comprehensive philosophical treatment of the hard problem of consciousness, including a discussion of recent empirical findings like blindsight, change blindness, visual-form agnosia and optic ataxia, mirror recognition in other primates, split-brain cases, and visual extinction. See McGill-Queen’s | Google | Amazon

Bill Brewer
Perception and its Objects
(Oxford 2011)

Bill Brewer presents, motivates, and defends a bold new solution to a fundamental problem in the philosophy of perception. What is the correct theoretical conception of perceptual experience, and how should we best understand the most fundamental nature of our perceptual relation with the physical objects in the world around us? See Oxford U Press | Google | Amazon

Eric Schwitzgebel
Perplexities of Consciousness
(MIT 2011)

A philosopher argues that we know little about our own inner lives. See Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Google Books. Or see Eric Schwizgebel’s site where old drafts of the chapters are available.

Gary A. Lucas
Emergence, Mind, and Consciousness: A Bio-Inspired Design for a Conscious Agent
(iUniverse 2011)

Lucas bridges the gap between bottom-up brain mechanisms and top-down emergence of mental processes and thereby explains how consciousness emerges. He also seeks to design an artificial agent with the essential properties of the human mind. His account is mechanistic, and yet, as the bio-inspired networks are linked to emergent mental properties, we come to understand that we can truly construct a conscious agent. See iUniverse | Google

Robin Wooffitt & Nicola Holt
Looking in and Speaking Out: Introspection, Consciousness, Communication
(Imprint 2011)

This book has three objectives. It offers an account of the way in which contemporary researchers employ introspection methodologies, it argues for the importance of viewing introspective data as discourse, and it outlines new directions for studying introspection and consciousness with implications for a range of psychological and social science disciplines. See Amazon | Google

Bachmann, Breitmeyer, Ogmen (eds.)
Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness: A Brief Dictionary
(Oxford 2011, 2nd edition)

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. (1st edition 2007) See Oxford | Google