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)


Lynne Rudder Baker
Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective
(Oxford 2013)

Science and its philosophical companion, Naturalism, represent reality in wholly non-personal terms. How, if at all, can a non-personal scheme accommodate the first-person perspective that we all enjoy? Baker explores this question by considering both reductive and eliminative approaches to the first-person perspective. After finding both approaches wanting, she mounts an original constructive argument to show that a non-Cartesian first-person perspective belongs in the basic inventory of what exists. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Ulrich Meyer
The Nature of Time
(Oxford 2013)

The theory of relativity convinced many that space and time are fundamentally alike, mere aspects of a more fundamental space-time. Meyer argues against this consensus view. Instead of a ‘spatial’ account of time that treats instants like positions in space, he presents the first comprehensive defense of a ‘modal’ account that emphasizes the similarities between times and the possible worlds in modal logic. Contrary to popular belief, such modal accounts of time do not entail that there is something metaphysically special about the present moment and they are easily reconciled with the theory of relativity. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Heather Dyke & Adrian Bardon (eds.)
A Companion to the Philosophy of Time
(Wiley-Blackwell 2013)

Part of the Blackwell Companions to Philosophy series, this unparalleled reference work consists of 32 specially commissioned articles ranging over the history of the philosophy of time, time as a feature of the physical world, and time as a feature of experience. Covers the philosophy of time with greater breadth than any previous collection. See Wiley-Blackwell | Amazon | Google

Patricia S. Churchland
Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain
(W. W. Norton 2013)

What happens when we accept that everything we feel and think stems not from an immaterial spirit but from electrical and chemical activity in our brains? In this thought-provoking narrative, Churchland reflects with humor on how she came to harmonize science and philosophy, the mind and the brain, abstract ideals and daily life. See W. W. Norton | Amazon | Google

Fiona Macpherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.)
Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology
(MIT 2013)

Perspectives on the nature of hallucination by both scientists and philosophers. Topics from psychology and neuroscience are first considered, including neurobiological mechanisms of hallucination and the nature and phenomenology of auditory-verbal hallucinations. Philosophical discussions follow including a consideration of disjunctivism and the relation between hallucination and the nature of experience. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Adrian Bardon
A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time
(Oxford 2013)

A short yet thorough introduction to the history, philosophy and science of the study of time—from the pre-Socratic philosophers through Einstein and beyond. Covers time and change, the experience of time, physical and metaphysical approaches to the nature of time, the direction of time, time-travel, time and freedom of the will, and scientific and philosophical approaches to eternity and the beginning of time. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Jakob Hohwy
The Predictive Mind
(Oxford 2013)

A new theory is taking hold in neuroscience, viz., that the brain is essentially a hypothesis-testing mechanism that attempts to minimise the error of its predictions about the sensory input it receives from the world. Powerful theoretical arguments support it and yet it is at heart stunningly simple. Hohwy explains this theory from the perspective of cognitive science and philosophy. His key argument is that the mechanism explains the rich, deep, and multifaceted character of our conscious perception. It also gives a unified account of how perception is sculpted by attention, and how it depends on action. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

L. A. Paul & Ned Hall
Causation: A User’s Guide
(Oxford 2013)

A guide to the most important philosophical treatments of causation, with special attention to counterfactual and related analyses. The authors clarify the central themes of the debate and cover questions involving omissions or absences, preemption and other species of redundant causation, and the possibility that causation is not transitive. They also examine several contemporary proposals for analyzing the nature of causation and provide the reader with a broad and sophisticated view of the metaphysics of the causal relation. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Matthew Soteriou
The Mind’s Construction: The Ontology of Mind and Mental Action
(Oxford 2013)

Not all aspects of the mind fill time in the same way. For example, some mental phenomena obtain over intervals of time, others unfold over time, and some continue to occur throughout intervals of time. Soteriou explores these distinctions and shows how they can illuminate philosophical accounts of both sensory and cognitive aspects of our conscious mental lives. Clarified in turn is the place of mental action in an account of the metaphysics of mind. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Thomas Natsoulas
Consciousness and Perceptual Experience
(Cambridge 2013)

Natsoulas proposes an approach to perception that is both ecological and phenomenological. He argues that our stream of consciousness provides us with firsthand contact with the world, as opposed to theoretical items such as inner mental representations, internal pictures, or sense-image models, pure figments and virtual objects, none of which can have effects on our sensory receptors. See Cambridge | Amazon | Google

Charles Travis
Perception: Essays After Frege
(Oxford 2013)

Travis presents a series of connected essays in the philosophy of perception. The book is informed by a number of central insights of Frege’s, notably about some intrinsic differences between objects of thought and objects of perception, and about the essential publicity of thought, and hence of its objects. Besides Frege, the essays owe much to J. L. Austin, something to J. M. Hinton, and more than a little to John McDowell and to Thompson Clarke. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Jesse Butler
Rethinking Introspection
(Palgrave Macmillan 2013)

We seem to have private access to our minds through introspection, but what exactly does this involve? Do we literally perceive our own minds, as the common idea of a ‘mind’s eye’ suggests? Butler offers a new pluralist framework for understanding introspection and argues that it does not consist of a single mechanism but a diverse range of mental states and processes with a broad spectrum of epistemic properties. See Palgrave Macmillan | Amazon | Google

Anne Jaap Jacobson
Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Sciences of the Mind
(Palgrave Macmillan 2013)

There have been two major models of the mind’s relation to its environment in Western thought. Both speak of ‘representation,’ but in different ways. The newer one, dominant today in philosophy, takes the mind to have states about its environment. The older one, originating with Aristotle but still present in everyday speech and in the new sciences of the mind, takes the mind to sample its environment. This book clarifies the old notion, solves some of its problems, and explains its potential. See Palgrave Macmillan | Amazon | Google | 3:AM Interview

Uriah Kriegel (ed.)
Current Controversies in Philosophy of Mind
(Routledge 2013)

Ten newly-commissioned pieces in which leading philosophers square off on five central debates currently engaging the field. The five debates include: Mind and Body: the prospects for Russellian monism; Mind in Body: the scope and nature of embodied cognition; Consciousness: representationalism and the phenomenology of moods; Mental Representation: the project of naturalization; and The Nature of Mind: the importance of consciousness. See Routledge | Amazon | Google

Richard Swinburne
Mind, Brain, and Free Will
(Oxford 2013)

Revisiting the issues discussed in his previous book The Evolution of the Soul (1986), Swinburne now provides deeper, stronger and more satisfying grounds for upholding the metaphysical theses of substance dualism and libertarian free will. He provides a full discussion of underlying philosophical issues and takes into account important results of recent neuroscience. See Oxford | Amazon | Google

Istvan Aranyosi
The Peripheral Mind: Philosophy of Mind and the Peripheral Nervous System
(Oxford 2013)

Should philosophers of mind shift their focus from the brain to the peripheral nervous system? In this engaging and informative book, Aranyosi suggests that peripheral processes may be constitutive of sensory states rather than mere causal contributors to them. He offers novel solutions to puzzles about physicalism, functionalism, mental content, embodiment, the extended mind hypothesis, tactile-proprioceptive illusions, as well as to some problems in neuroethics. See Oxford | Google

Richard Fumerton
Knowledge, Thought, and the Case for Dualism
(Cambridge 2013)

Fumerton’s primary concern is the knowledge argument for dualism – an argument that turns on the idea that we can know truths about our existence and our mental states without knowing any truths about the physical world. This view has come under relentless criticism, but Fumerton argues for its rehabilitation and reveals its connections with a wide range of other controversies within philosophy. See Cambridge | Google

Robert Kirk
The Conceptual Link from Physical to Mental
(Oxford 2013)

How are truths about physical and mental states related? Kirk argues that physicalists must hold that the physical truth “logico-conceptually” entails the mental truth: it is impossible for logical and conceptual reasons that the former should have held without the latter. He argues that such ‘redescriptive physicalism’ is free of the problems that mental causation raises for other non-reductive views, and also shows that Cartesian intuitions of zombies and transposed qualia are false. See Oxford | Google

Uriah Kriegel (ed.)
Phenomenal Intentionality
(Oxford 2013)

Since the late 1970s, philosophers have been trying to “naturalize” intentionality – the mind’s ability to direct itself onto the world. But some are now arguing that phenomenal consciousness has an essential role to play in the theory of intentionality, a role missing in the naturalization program. This volume offers twelve new essays by philosophers at the forefront of the field. See Oxford | Google

Michael S. A. Graziano
Consciousness and the Social Brain
(Oxford 2013)

How can a brain, a mere collection of neurons, be conscious? Graziano lays out an audacious new theory. The brain has evolved a complex circuitry that allows it to be socially intelligent. One of its functions is to attribute awareness to others: to compute that person Y is aware of thing X. Graziano proposes that the machinery that attributes awareness to others also attributes it to oneself. Damage it and you disrupt your own awareness. Graziano discusses the science, the evidence, the philosophy, and the surprising implications of this new theory. See Oxford | Google

Paul M. Churchland
Matter and Consciousness
(MIT 2013, 3rd edition)

In this classic introductory textbook, Paul Churchland presents a concise and contemporary overview of the philosophical issues surrounding the mind and explains the philosophical positions that have been proposed to solve them. He also reviews current developments in the cognitive sciences. For this third edition, the text has been updated and revised throughout, taking into account numerous recent developments. (Previous editions 1984, 1988.) See MIT | Google

Alvin I. Goldman
Joint Ventures: Mindreading, Mirroring, and Embodied Cognition
(Oxford 2013)

What distinguishes us from other species? One candidate is our facility at mutual understanding, our ability to ascribe thoughts, desires, and feelings to one another. How do we do this? Folk-wisdom says, “By empathy – we put ourselves in other's shoes.” This idea has recently moved from folk-wisdom to philosophical conjecture to serious science. This volume collects essays by Alvin Goldman, many of which have played a major role in crystallizing this simulation, or empathizing, account of mindreading. See Oxford | Amazon | Google