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Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness Paperback – August 22, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0195106466 ISBN-10: 0195106466 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (August 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106466
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This book asserts that human consciousness is not necessarily intelligible in terms of computational models. The brain's conscious activity essentially transcends the forms or possibilities of computation. Penrose (mathematics, Oxford) illustrates his thesis via mathematical logic, including detailed discussions of Godel's proposition of incompleteness, Turing's machines and computabilities, quantum mechanics, and microbiology. Eventually, Penrose argues that artificial intelligence and computer-controlled expert systems are capable of assisting local human expertise but will not be able to replace such expertise. Expanding on some of the ideas and concepts proposed in his controversial book, The Emperor's New Mind (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1989), Penrose challenges others to reconsider traditional concepts. Some familiarity with mathematical logic or processes will facilitate one's appreciation of this book. Recommended for scholars, specialists, and informed lay readers.
Donald G. Frank, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A leading critic of artificial intelligence research returns to the attack, attempting to lay the groundwork for an analysis of the true nature of intelligence. Building on his arguments in The Emperor's New Mind (not reviewed), Penrose (Mathematics/Oxford) begins by refuting the assertion that true intelligence can be attained--or even adequately simulated--by the strictly computational means to which current computers are ultimately limited. Much of his argument depends closely on the application of G”del's Undecidability Theorem to Turing machines--deep waters for laypeople, although the fundamentals of his argument are accessible to readers without sophisticated mathematical training. Having disposed of the central tenets of current AI research, Penrose then turns to an even more fundamental question: the actual foundations in modern physics (i.e., relativity and quantum theory) of the phenomenon of consciousness. Here much of his summary depends on fairly complex mathematical reasoning, although the key points are summarized for the general reader who has been willing to follow him so far. Penrose feels that a new physical synthesis, reconciling the paradoxes of quantum theory and bringing them into harmony with Einstein's gravitational theories, is ultimately necessary to explain the noncomputational elements of consciousness and intelligence. He speculates on the possible role of cellular structures called microtubules in creating a quantum phenomenon on a macroscopic scale within the brain, but grants that more research is needed to establish any connection between physical and mental phenomena. His conclusion steps back to a philosophical overview of the subject, paying homage to Plato, among others. A challenging examination of a central problem of modern philosophy, with no final answers but plenty of food for thought. (76 line drawings) (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Just opening this book to a random page and reading that page - sets one's mind on fire.
avarma
The book becomes interesting in Part II, where Sir Penrose explains the "puzzle mysteries" and "paradox mysteries" as well as various aspects of quantum mechanics.
Big Al (Alan Rivière)
"Shadows of the Mind" begins by addressing the arguments against the points Professor Penrose made in his former book, "The Emperor's New Mind."
Ila France Porcher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By "mervyn@ynnmail.com" on December 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a significant improvement on Penrose's previous writing of similar scope, "The Emperor's New Mind", especially that he has more specific ideas on the actual biological manifestations of the noncomputational processes he seeks as basis for consciousness. Even if one does not agree with his arguments, there is a great amount of information on physics and so on, written in a style that makes the book a pleasure to read. A previous review mentioned that many have opposed the logical arguments from the first part of the book. Penrose, however, has replied quite well to many criticisms (see PSYCHE, an electronic journal on consciousness), and I think it is premature to pass final judgement. For an alternative, not necessarily incompatible, view of consciousness I highly recommend "The Feeling of What Happens" by the distinguished neurologist Antonio R. Damasio (or at least check out his article "How the Brain Creates the Mind" in Scientific American, December 1999).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By avarma on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Just opening this book to a random page and reading that page - sets one's mind on fire.

The basic thread running throughtout the book is that of 'what is computable and what is not'. The process of 'Understanding' as humans know it - Penrose argues - is NON-COMPUTABLE. He provides brilliant examples of how computers can 'solve' any problem - without 'understanding' what they are solving (e.g. DeepThought and the simple chess move which stumped it).

This theme in itself would make this a worthwhile read. However - this book offers further gems from Quantum Physics - with perhaps the simplest and best explanation of lesser known quantum paradoxes such as the 'delayed choice' experiments. Godel's theorem is also dealt with lucidly.

Few authors can tackle the issue of 'mind and conciousness' without stepping into some mystical/unscientific goo. Penrose stays scientific - and works from facts and well known experiments.

I do not know of any other book that tackles this subject so clearly - and in such an exciting fashion. From my perspective - this clearly deserves 5 stars.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Between the beautifully written prologue and epilogue, this book approaches a range of topics in modern physics in a unique and readable way. Through a continuation of some earlier work, Penrose furthers an argument for brain function and conciousness that many in the artificial intelligence field will not appreciate. He presents his case that the human mind will never be simulated with digital a computer, no matter how complex. But that is not his main focus of this book.
Even more facinating are his calculations which indicate how mathematically unique our existence is under the 2nd law of thermodynamics. To me, it's ultimately ironic that the physical principal which orders our universe and makes intelligent life possible (the 2nd law), is the result of an unimaginably improbable set of initial conditions. Although Penrose never invokes the concept of a creator or supreme being, in my mind, this poses an interesting challenge to those in the scientific community who claim our universe is simply the result of random particle collisions over a long period of time.
If we combine the concepts of similar structures scaling across space and time (tensegrity and fractals), with Penrose's ideas that consciousness may be associated with quantum gravity interactions in microtubules (present in all living cells), perhaps there is far more mystery and beauty to this existence than some would now believe...
This book was satisfying and throught provoking, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mysteries of the very large and the very small.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Roy Simpson on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Shadows of the Mind is undoubtedly a less populist book than its predecessor "The Emperor's New Mind". It is also significantly more technical in places than the predecessor. Its purpose is to extend the Godel based arguments used in ENM in several directions. Firstly to attempt to address various criticisms of the central argument of the previous book and then to develop some new ones. Also there is a discussion of the application to Robotics. An example of this sort of discussion is whether any capability of a Robot to learn would undo any of the Robot restrictions deduced in his basic argument. After all learning (human or robotic) will imply going beyond previous restrictions and being aware of new facts.

So there is a subtle argument needed to continue to show that despite this, humans will come out on top. If you are interested in this kind of subtlety after reading ENM then this is the book for you.

In effect Penrose is right at the heart of the Mind-Machine debate in this book. I give an overview of this debate as follows:

We need to find a scientific theory of the Mind. So we can examine what kind of cognitive or thinking device it might be, recognising that it also thinks about Mathematics. For that we need a model of cognition sufficiently general: the Turing Machine model is available and generally considered to be that model - there are no obvious rivals. So one can focus on whether the Turing Machine model could really be a model for the Human Mathematical Mind. If the answer is "yes" we would conclude also: Robots could have Minds.

Penrose draws the conclusion about mathematical reasoning that:

G: "Human mathematicians are not using a knowably sound algorithm in order to ascertain mathematical truth".
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