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Consciousness Explained Paperback – October 20, 1992
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Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. --Glenn Branch
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dennett does make a coherent case, but the theme is buried in so many asides and diversions that one needs a conceptual GPS to stay oriented. Since he has the whole map in his head, the author naturally tends to forget that others on the tour bus may have lost their bearings two or three turns ago. On the plus side, Dennett's pleasantly conversational tone, clever analogies and colorful terminology (Stalinesque, Multiple Drafts, Witness Protection Program) help to sustain our interest and clarify difficult concepts.
The big picture (I think) is that investigations of consciousness have traditionally been hindered by reliance on the concept of a "Cartesian Theater" in the mind where a homunculus (the audience) makes conscious observations. As long as the nature of the theater and the homunculus remain elusive, the whole approach merely begs the questions of what consciousness is and how it happens. Dennett proposes that neither the theater nor the audience exists (i.e. the analogies are empty) and that a massively parallel process he calls Multiple Drafts is more descriptive of what happens in a conscious brain.Read more ›
He also builds up a straw man in the form of "the Cartesian theater" and repeatedly bashes it. I don't know why it's so important to him to put this theory to rest - probably this is something important in philosophical circles. If this Cartesian Theater is a big force in philosophy, I must say I'm a little disappointed in the whole philosophical field. They should learn about programming. I would much rather see him building on his existing model, digging deeper into the specifics, cataloguing and explaining what some of these "mini-homunculi" or automatic functions might be. Instead he repeatedly beats a dead horse.
Most programmers have the mindset that complex behavior can be built up from many simple functions.Read more ›
Dennett's major antagonist in this debate has been John Searle whose Chinese Room argument has been deployed again and again to deny the possibility which Dennett is here asserting, that consciousness is basically a natural phenomenon (Searle agrees, by the way that consciousness is natural, while arguing against a genuinely naturalistic description). Dennett spends a lot of time exploring side paths and building alternative models for understanding consciousness as he works to get his reader to jettison old notions about the mind as an entity uniquely set apart from the things it attends to, what he calls the "central meaner" or the audience in the Cartesian theater (alluding to Descarte's insight that our mental life is qualitatively different from the physical world we encounter). Dennet builds his case by exploring recent research on brains and human behavior as well as by sketching out an evolutionary picture about how consciousness may have come to be.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loss of Consciousness possible when reading this thing. Readers beware.Published 1 month ago by Sheng
conscousness can,t be exlained nor lockated.when you are consciouse that you are unconsciouse then there is conscousness with not begining nor end,no measurable!Published 4 months ago by sava mitrovich
As expected from a Dennett book, once you commence you better pack your intellectual suitcase and prepare for a journey. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike Morgenstein
The author lives up to his reputation as one of the most provocative modern philosophers. The book makes one question one's own concepts about self, & leaves one wanting to explore... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ken Feltham
If you're looking for hard science or rigorous philosophy, you won't find much of that here. The majority of this book is a highly speculative sciency-philosophical mixture,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Andrew Slabchuck
I don't think it really explains the consciousness it is more like impossibility of explaining consciousness. I might be wrong. Read morePublished 11 months ago by CW