Missives from a fly bottle
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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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1992

Nicholas Humphrey
A History of the Mind
(Vintage 1992)

How did the water of the brain become the wine of consciousness? Humphrey proposes a radical new theory. Exploring the division between sensation and perception, he shows how raw sensations are essential to all conscious states: “I feel, therefore I am.” And he describes how raw sensory consciousness may have developed out of the bodily experiences of pain and pleasure of our primitive ancestors. See Amazon | Google

John Searle
The Rediscovery of the Mind
(MIT 1992)

It is the neglect of consciousness, Searle argues, that results in so much barrenness in psychology, the philosophy of mind, and cognitive science: there can be no study of mind that leaves it out. What is going on in the brain is neurophysiological processes and consciousness and nothing more – no rule following, no mental information processing or mental models, no language of thought, and no universal grammar. Mental events are themselves features of the brain, “like liquidity is a feature of water.” See MIT | Google

Owen Flanagan
Consciousness Reconsidered
(MIT 1992)

In this broad, entertaining, and persuasive account, Flanagan argues that we are on the way to understanding the place of consciousness in the natural order. Qualia, self-consciousness, autobiographical memory, perceptions, sensations, the stream of consciousness, disorders such as blindsight and multiple personalities all find a place in this powerful synthetic theory on which consciousness is real, plays an important causal role, and resides in the brain. See MIT | Google

J. J. Valberg
The Puzzle of Experience
(Oxford 1992)

If we reason about our experience, we are driven to conclude that what is present to us – the object of our experience – is something that exists only in so far as it is present, hence is not part of the world. But if we just open up to our experience, all we find is the world. Valberg sets out to explain why we are entangled in this puzzle and to consider ways of solving it. See Oxford University Press | Google Books