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Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness (Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience) Hardcover – March 31, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0674013209 ISBN-10: 0674013204

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Product Details

  • Series: Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674013204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674013209
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,934,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Libet only dared switch to the study of consciousness after he got tenure. It is fortunate for us that he did, and that he has presented us here with what amounts to a retrospective exhibition of his work...The refreshing result is that we are immediately engaged in an earnest one-to-one tutorial with [him]...In [his] work, philosophers have found grist for what they do best. Indeed, his experiments...must rank as one of the major contributions of experimental psychology to modern philosophy of mind...[W]hether or not one agrees with his thesis or not, one must acknowledge that his pioneering experimental work has certainly been stimulating. (Kevan Martin Nature 2004-05-20)

What makes Benjamin Libet different from all the others writing on [consciousness]...is that he has actually spent the past 40 years experimenting on the topic. His findings have played a central role in others' speculations. Now he has put his life's work into a single short book. (Steven Rose New Scientist 2004-05-22)

[Libet's] book is greatly to be welcomed because it provides the first full and detailed account of his famous experiments, explaining how and why he carried them out, and how he came to his conclusions...What is new is Libet's 'conscious mental field theory,' which is startlingly different from any other current theory of consciousness. (Susan Blackmore Times Higher Education Supplement 2004-10-01)

Review

Mind Time makes for extremely interesting, engaging reading. Its discussions of consciousness, subjectivity, free will, and perception will intrigue anybody in philosophy or psychology interested in those topics. This is a valuable book to have available. (David Rosenthal, Philosophy and Cognitive Science Graduate Center, City University of New York)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
I participated in two of Libet's experiments when I was a grad student, and knew his work well. I went on in neuroscience rather than perception, but I got well trained in both fields. So I thought I would make a few comments on that, especially in regard to the previous reviewer's remarks. I enclose those in brackets and then comment on them in my review. It's a well done review in many ways but there are some problems with it, too, and I had some additional things to add about Libet's ideas, so I thought I'd comment on that, too.

[He holds the very dated notion that the only valid scientific knowledge attainable is that which can be falsified. Thus he shuns aside every philosophical, or scientific for that matter, progress done because he believes it cannot be put to empirical test. Circle of Vienna, here we go again.]

This is the classical Karl Popper falsifiability criterian, rather than the Vienna Circle per se, but every perceptual scientist of that generation (including me) was educated that way. No big deal. They still made more progress in 20 years than in the previous 150.

Furthermore, I was well trained and educated in epistemology, the philosophy of science, and so on, before settling on grad school in neurobiology. The philosophy is really only important for a neurobiologist at the undergraduate level to avoid basic logical mistakes. At the graduate level in neurobiology, you're at a level the philosophers can't even understand and read the articles on anymore and so philosophy is completely irrelevant. Sad to say but that's just the way it is. So what I have to say to the other philosophically inclined neuroscientists like myself is to understand that at some point you have to move on and leave philosophy behind.
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52 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The topic is a great one, and the author was a great researcher into the topic. Unfortunately, while he may be a great scientist, he's a horrible author.
His idea of the book's audience is vague: he defines neurons as "nerve cells" and introduces Phineas Gage as if talking to someone with no background in neuroscience, only to throw out terms like "fissure of Rolando" in the very same page. He's obviously been retired for quite some time, as all his research is several decades old.
Within the first few pages of the book, he state boldly that consciousness can't be explained by materalism-- something that, while may be true, is far from the kind of statement you just throw out without backing it up.
The organization is vague at best, at times it feels as if he's just rambling.
Worst of all, he repeats himself, almost verbatim, multiple times. The story of how he got the chance to perform these experiments is told practically word for word at least three time in the first 20 pages. A tribute to his college advisor is likewise repeated using the same words. Experimental evidence is complete introduced multiple times, as if it the author had somehow forgotten that he had already introduced it. I spent quite a lot of time trying to find a pattern to these repetitions-- was the book composed by splicing together articles he wrote elsewhere? In the end, I couldn't make heads or tails out of it.
Libet's research is truly extraordinary, but if you want to learn about it, don't read him, read a secondary source like Dennett's Consciousness Explained.
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Camara on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Benjamin Libet deserves some kind of prize. His studies, pioneering work on the neurophysiology of consicousness, were conducted back when there was no ¨cognitive¨ in cognitive neuroscience, and much less the word ¨consciousness¨ in science in general. His work is certainly now familiar to most who are interested in the philosophy of mind, or the neural bases of the mind. In this respect, this book advances few new evidence. But it does advance LIbets speculations on the significance of his finds.

He starts the book with very shaky philosophical assumptions. He explicitly says the scientific study of consciousness must make no assumptions on the mind-brain relationship. Yet he claims that qualia are not explainable in physical terms, that consicousness and qualia are the same thing, that the only valid form of evidence is instrospection, that cosnciousness is a content independent phenomenon. These are a prioiri assumptions. None will be admitted by most without argument, but Libet expects us to. All of this stems, of course, from LIbets extreme verificationism, disguised as scientific rigour. He holds the very dated notion that the only valid scientific knowledge attainable is that which can be falsified. Thus he shuns aside every philosophical, or scientific for that matter, progress done because he believes it cannot be put to empirical test. Circle of Vienna, here we go again.

But nobody is a verificationist anymore. At least not philosophers. And given that scientists interested in consicousness would part from Libets ideas, and philosophers will too, Libet is alone against the world.

Libet famously found that there is a delay in consicous awareness. That is, a stimulus becomes conscious if it elicits brain activity that lasts for 500 miliseconds or so.
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