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Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness (Bradford Books) Paperback – August 20, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Bradford Books
  • Paperback: 357 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book; 1 edition (August 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262621932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262621939
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This ambitious, unwieldy "novel theory" by philosophy professor Lloyd (Simple Minds) sets out to explore paradigms of consciousness while solving the murder of a stodgy instructor at fictional Whaleard University. When graduate student Miranda Sharpe makes an early morning raid on her adviser's office to take back her dissertation, she is horrified to find philosophy professor Maxwell Grue hunched over his desk, presumably dead. Later in the day, his body has disappeared, and Miranda begins "Sherlocking." After the firewall protecting the college computer network is breached and the system crashes, she sifts through Grue's e-mails, CD-ROMs and jargon-laden "virtual world" Web site to find clues. A number of suspects materialize: radio psychologist Clare Lucid; a Russian forensic exchange professor; Miranda's ex-boyfriend; and a smitten computer geek named Gordon. Even the author himself surfaces to lend a hand. Since everyone revels in illustrating neurophilosophical theories, by the time all the sleuthing pays off, the characters have lost definition and the narrative is tied up in knots. Bafflement continues into a stand-alone Part Two as Lloyd leaves his primary story behind for a more academic focus, expanding on a new theory of consciousness developed over the course of the novel. Dry textbook language and graphics that only seasoned scholars will fully comprehend make Lloyd's concentrated exploration of cognitive science a slog for the average mystery reader. The theories on time, reality and whole-brain functionality are intriguing, but Lloyd will lose all but his hardest-working readers by the time the "Sources and Notes" section is reached
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The riddle of human consciousness has confounded philosophers for centuries. But not to worry--now there's a sleuth on the case. Or so it would seem in this strange hybrid of a book in which philosopher Lloyd appropriates the conventions of private-eye fiction to adumbrate his own groundbreaking theorizing. Thrust into the role of detective, the disgruntled graduate student Miranda Sharpe must find out what has happened to Max Grue, her missing graduate advisor. Miranda's search for answers soon involves a complex cast of characters (including the alter ego of Lloyd himself) who together enact the vanished professor's complex theory of consciousness even as they try to understand it. In a dizzyingly convoluted plot, Miranda and the fictional Lloyd frantically scrutinize e-mails, neural-network matrices, and brain imagery, trying to unravel Grue's multiplayer theory in time to avert an Internet meltdown and an international crisis. Lloyd concludes with an appendix explaining the theory embedded in his tale. Certainly not the most accessible first novel of the season but quite possibly the most original. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

That's not a great book, either, but it's stunningly good compared to this - it has warmth, wit and depth.
Andrew Cooke
The whole index is very intensive (chapters 3 and 4 a bit more than 1 and 2): it requires undivided attention and patience for eventual explanation.
Amazoner
By that point, however, I just couldn't believe something good enough to redeem the story would come through.
wiredweird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David Gibson on November 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Scientists don't necessarily make good novelists; Ian Stewart's Flatterland is a case in point. Dan Lloyd has a wicked sense of humor, however, and captures his protagonist, a sardonic philosophy graduate student, perfectly. I'm less enthusiastic about the so-called theory of consciousness the novel is supposed to set forth, which attempts to merge brain scans with Husserl. And readers should be forewarned that a working knowledge of neural networks and multi-dimensional scaling is very helpful.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What is it about the new neuroscience that sometimes causes uneasiness in people when it is contemplated? This has been communicated to me many times by colleagues, co-workers, and business associates with whom I have discussed neuroscience over the years. The story in this book is brilliant if viewed from the standpoint of the moods that accompany the contemplation of the conscious mind from the perspective of contemporary experimental neuroscience. It captures, through its main character, the disquieting feelings that one sometimes gets when thinking about the true nature of consciousness from a scientific viewpoint. It is very perplexing that such feelings exist when examining something that is so close to us. Do we not want to believe that our consciousness can be explained according to the conceptions of modern neuroscience, with its mathematical models of neurons and neuronal connections, all validated with the experimental tool of fMRI? Does scientific description and analysis of consciousness trivialize it so that we no longer feel unique and retain a special, integrated "I-ness", but instead a collection of neuronal impulses and a bundle of Machian sensations?
This book is unique in that the author has chosen to present his ideas on consciousness using a story, with the rigorous scientific statements of his ideas coming after the story is over, in part 2 of the book, which the author has named "The Real Firefly". His ideas, as I see them, could loosely be described as a scientific justification of Husserlian phenomenology. He is honest enough to say though that much work remains to be done. Thankfully the time when the study of consciousness was solely a philosophical affair is over.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It has been my experience that many students in introductory undergraduate philosophy, cognitive science, and neuroscience courses have a difficult time wrapping their heads around some of the more complicated issues relating to how consciousness is represented in brain, what tasks it may be performing, and what techniques are available for investigation. While Dan Lloyd may be pursuing lofty goals by mixing novel science with fiction, I found that he has managed to strike a good balance here, and may have produced a text well fit to supplement a primary text and lecture material for some of these introductory courses. By being placed in the shoes of a philosophy graduate student coming across some of the pertinent issues of brain study for the first time, the reader is exposed to a beautifully rich existential conscious experience, and is forced to question the nature of his\her own consciousness, an essential part of any encounter with brain study. Thought provoking and fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazoner on September 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review aims to give potential readers an idea of the subject, style, and value of Radiant Cool by Dan Lloyd. Based on consciousness and phenomenology, or " the philosophical effort to characterize the essential structures of experience" (as found on Lloyd's website: [...]), the book was entertaining and enlightening to a degree, but some parts were difficult to read, which, at those moments, left me wondering if I would get the point. In my opinion, readers like me, who have an interest in the area of consciousness in neuroscience, although with, perhaps, meager knowledge in the subject, are the intended audience. Otherwise, why format the book in two parts: first a novel to wet the palate over consciousness ideas and then a theoretical, explanation-based section (which Dan Lloyd refers to as the index) to clarify and expound upon what was in the novel? I believe Dan Lloyd did not quite achieve the language necessary for the target audience, but the way he wrote it was a decent attempt to explain consciousness to phenomenological beginners.

Part one: the novel
Lloyd writes the first part from the point of view of Miranda Sharpe, a graduate student of phenomenology. The plot is certainly enthralling as Miranda shares her experiences of anxiety and discovery in her dark-humorous manner. From starting the day without being sure if her advisor, Dr. Grue, is dead, the subsequent search for him by herself and other faculty, her discovery of what Dr. Grue has uncovered in understanding consciousness, the chaos bug disturbing the lives of all campus residents and their dependence on their computers, and the eventual "showdown" in Dan Lloyd's (the alter ego of the writer himself) living room, there is certainly enough suspense to keep readers interested.
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Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness (Bradford Books)
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