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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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Robin Le Poidevin & Murray MacBeath (eds.)
The Philosophy of Time
(Oxford 1993)

The first introductory anthology on the subject to appear for many years. The contributors are distinguished and two of the essays are specially written for this collection. In their introduction, the editors summarize the background to the debate and show the relevance of the philosophy of time for other branches of philosophy and for science. Part of the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series. See Amazon | Google

Ruth Garrett Millikan
White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice
(MIT 1993)

This collection of essays is both an introduction to Millikan's much-discussed Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (1984) and an extension of her central themes, especially in the philosophy of psychology. Millikan clarifies her views on mental representation, explores whether human thought is a product of natural selection, examines the nature of behavior as studied by the behavioral sciences, and discusses the issues of individualism in psychology, psychological explanation, indexicality in thought, what knowledge is, and the realism/antirealism debate. See MIT | Amazon | Google

Richard E. Cytowic
The Man Who Tasted Shapes
(MIT 1993)

In 1980, Cytowic was having dinner at a friend’s house, when his host exclaimed, “Oh, dear, there aren’t enough points on the chicken.” With that casual comment began Cytowic’s journey into the condition known as synesthesia. Extensive experiments with more than forty synesthetes has led him to an explanation of synesthesia – and to a new conception of the organization of the mind, one that emphasizes the primacy of emotion over reason. See MIT | Google (2003 edition)

Howard Robinson (ed.)
Objections to Physicalism
(Oxford 1993)

Physicalism has become almost an orthodoxy, especially in the philosophy of mind. Many, however, feel uneasy about this development, and this volume is a collective response to it. These papers, written by philosophers from Britain, the United States, and Australasia, show that physicalism faces enormous problems in every area in which it is discussed. See Oxford | Google

Celia Wolf-Devine
Descartes on Seeing
(Southern Illinois U Press 1993)

Wolf-Devine traces the development of Descartes’ thought about visual perception against the backdrop of the transition from Aristotelianism to the new mechanistic science – the major scientific paradigm shift taking place in the seventeenth century. Throughout her discussion, she demonstrates both Descartes’ continuity with and break from the Aristotelian tradition. See Google | celiawolfdevine.com | Questia

Arlette Streri
Seeing, Reaching, Touching
(MIT 1993)

Since antiquity, philosophers have asked whether seeing and touching are separate systems or are unified at birth. Contemporary psychologists approach the question from two perspectives: either they consider motor ability as the integrated link between the senses or they study the relations between the information gained from two or more sense modalities. Streri demonstrates that, although current research confirms both perspectives, the results are insufficient to provide an understanding of the conditions necessary for the establishment of a unity of the two systems. See MIT Press | Amazon | Google

Austen Clark
Sensory Qualities
(Oxford 1993)

Many philosophers doubt that one can provide any successful explanation of qualities that characterize how things look, feel, or seem to a perceiving subject. For one would need to explain qualitative facts in non-qualitative terms, and attempts to construct such an explanation seem doomed to failure. In this book, Clark presents an analysis of sensory qualities that refutes such skepticism. Drawing on work in psychophysics, psychometrics, and sensory neurophysiology, he analyzes the character and defends the integrity of psychophysical explanations of qualitative facts, arguing that the structure of such explanations is sound and potentially successful. See Oxford | Google | Amazon

Gerald Edelman
Bright Air, Brilliant Fire
(Basic Books 1993)

We are on the verge of a revolution in neuroscience as significant as the Galilean revolution in physics or the Darwinian revolution in biology. Edelman takes issue with the many current cognitive and behavioral approaches to the brain that leave biology out of the picture, and argues that the workings of the brain more closely resemble the living ecology of a jungle than they do the activities of a computer. See New York Times review by George Johnson | Amazon | Google Books

Benjamin Libet
Neurophysiology of Consciousness: Selected Papers and New Essays
(Springer 1993)

Collected here and annotated by the author are the key publications of Benjamin Libet, whose work during 30 years of exploring the human brain has helped establish a new basis for studying subjective mental phenomena. These papers present the results of experiments with awake human patients undergoing therapeutic surgical procedures. An invaluable collection for psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists, as well as those interested in the philosophy of consciousness. See Springer | Amazon