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The Explicit Animal: A Defence of Human Consciousness Paperback – October 1, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Review

'There may be other professors of geriatric medecine who have chosen to write down their views on life, the universe and everything...Raymond Tallis is unusual in that he is philosophically well educated and alert; his books are genuine contributions to professional debate and must be assessed as such. It is, of course, acutely irritating that someone with a different professional competence should have read more widely, and more attentively, in one's own field than oneself; even more irritating that there are no obvious misreadings...It is to be hoped that Raymond Tallis finds time, amid his professorial and clinical duties, to continue the exploration.' - Professor Stephen Clark, Times Literary Supplement From the reviews of Enemies of Hope: "Tallis...is a high achiever with a range of expertise that would leave Jonathan Miller gasping' - Walter Ellis, The Sunday Times 'As its title and length indicate, this is a Big Book. It is written, nevertheless, in a clear, accessible, unpretentious and often witty style. And as anyone familiar with Raymond Tallis's other similar works will know, it has important things to say...there is about his panoptic sweep an intrepidity, a candour and open-mindedness, a gameness for anything, a total lack of vanity or self-importance, and a generous hatred of cant, that are extremely engaging. Every page of Enemies of Hope is lit by its author's characteristic wisdom and luminous intelligence, and by flashes of novel, striking insight. That alone is as much as to say, read it.' - Robert Grant, The Times Literary Supplement 'Brilliantly argued and with a wide range of erudition' - Nicholas Kochan, The Financial Times 'There may be other professors of geriatric medicine who have chosen to write down their views on life, the universe and everything...Raymond Tallis is unusual in that he is philosophically well educated and alert; his books are genuine contributions to professional debate and must be assessed as such.' - Stephen R.L. Clark, Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Raymond Tallis is Professor of Geriatric Medecine at the University of Manchester.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312224184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312224189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,686,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stanley V. Mcdaniel on November 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
The degree to which Raymond Tallis' powerful, detailed analysis of the logical and theoretical failures inherent in contemporary "cognitive science" succeeds in its task is vividly confirmed by the extreme reaction of the reviewer whose efforts consist primarily of insisting the book be consigned to the "garbage can" or the "thrift store." Tallis takes on the contemporary Dr. Frankensteins who, like the fictional scientist obsessed with a sense of godlike power, attempt to mimic creation by constructing a "conscious" machine -- by so redefining consciousness as to turn it into a computer program. Tallis' arguments are deep and multifaceted and cannot be dismissed by ad hominem attempts to associate his thinking with that of Locke or Wittgenstein or any others whose views he happens to mention in the course of his highly educated discourse. Here I certainly cannot reprise all the facets of his incisive critique. I will mention however that he is quite forceful and accurate in explaining how advocates of "mechanising consciousness" depend on "strategic employment of crucially ambiguous key terms such as 'memory,''information', 'language', 'code' and 'signal." By making us aware of the subtle and insidious shifting about of meanings upon which the interpretation of humanity as machine depends, he strikes a valuable blow against a trend in our view of ourselves that increasingly threatens to remove such precious things as love, caring, sharing, beauty and indeed morality itself from culture -- in effect, to destroy culture entirely and replace it with the Frankensteinian world so well depicted in the "Terminator" films. The cognitive scientists of course hope to maintain control, but the monster, once unbound, may destroy all that we cherish.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N.J.P.B. on August 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This work, which is the piece from which all of his other books on the philosophy of mind have sprung, is a well written defense of the idea that it is a person, and not a brain, who thinks, feels and wills. Tallis begins by examining the evolutionary explanations for consciousness and finds them wanting. He then moves on to criticize the mind-brain identity theory and here, as well as the following chapter on computer models of mind and the AI movement, he is at his strongest.

Many of his arguments have such force that it seems to me even more of a mystery now that there are scientists who still entertain the thought of "thinking machines", that is, hard AI. Tallis points out that all of the functions of a computer must be at best syntactical rather than semantical, and that any apparent intentionality they have is a derived intentionality, like that of a book.

A book itself does not inhere any meaning, because it only contains symbols, symbols which have to be interpreted by a conscious mind in order for them to be significant. Similarly, meaning exists in a computer only insofar as there is language put in to it by a programmer, and interpreted out by a user.

He blames mostly what he calls a "transferal of epithets" for our present confusion about minds and material things. What he means by this is that we refer sloppily to the actions in a computer in human terms and we refer sloppily to thoughts in metonymous material terms. In the way we speak we humanize computers and brains and materialize minds, which adds up only to conceptual confusion.

If you'd like a good guide on how to cut to through the muck of modern pop-neuroscience and the likes of Ray Kurzweil and Douglas Hofstadter in the computer world, this book is very useful.
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10 of 41 people found the following review helpful By RAH RAH RAH on May 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book in a garbage pile and decided to give it a chance. But just flipping through it I couldn't believe I carried such refuse home with me. Only a glance is enough to reveal a dated and apologetic analysis of consciousness, reasoned from false premises and reifications. Tallis gives an overly empirical (that is, Lockean empiricism) analysis of misguided mind/brain theories and philosophers the likes of Ryle and Bertrand Russel as if they still meant something, preoccupying himself with old mistakes and giving perhaps an intriguing analysis of interest to a historian of philosophy, but not anyone hoping to understand consciousness with all its ornamental trapping removed. Tallis seems only interested in these trappings, and like Dennet's "Consciousness Explained" he has left us with a massive, overworked, dull and specious account of consciousness as a substantial object in itself. In his own words: "consciousness is rather tricky stuff to get hold of and even more to display." Yes, it takes a doorstop of a book to "display" consciousness as an entity, rather than as an emergent property of the nervous system, as is suggested by the cognitive and neurological theories of our day. I would suggest engaging in research along either of these lines instead, rather that waste your time with some foolish reactionary. Tallis ineffectively rips on all the prevailing views, even opening the first chapter with Wittgenstein's tired reproach of psychology. There is probably a Bible message somewhere in the end and recourse to lengthy ontological arguments, or vast networks of circular reasoning to hold it all together. A quote from St.Read more ›
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