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The Mystery of Consciousness Paperback – January 1, 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
Searle's own stance is one of 'biological naturalism'. This view is best explicated in Searle's _The Rediscovery of the Mind_. It, roughly speaking, is a view that: 1) consciousness is a real, intrinsically first-person phenomena; 2) consciousness is brain-based - that is, it is physically based; and, 3) by virtue of #1 mind is not a reducible phenomena (since any third-person reduction destroys the essential 1st-person characteristic that makes consciousness what it is). Scientific study of the mind is not thereby discounted - such study need only take these points into account.
Regarding Edelman and Crick, Searle points out that despite that whatever neurological evidence and elaborations they may have come up with (in terms of neurological theories), neither presents a theory of consciousness per se. Whatever the 40Hz theory says, it can only claim a correlative relation, not a causitive relation, to consciousness at this point in its development.
[For my money, _I of the Vortex_ by Rodolfo Llinas is more interesting than Edelman or Crick, and Llinas is somewhat less hyperbolic about his claims.]
Penrose is just tragically out to lunch, poor guy. And, if anything, Searle is overly generous in his treatment of Penrose's Godelian / computational arguments.Read more ›
Searle's merciless criticisms of recent approaches to consciousness are based on his own original viewpoint proposed in his books Minds, Brains, and Science (1984) and The Rediscovery of the Mind (1992). According to Searle, consciousness is both an irreducibly subjective mental phenomenon and a biological feature of the brain. Searle compares consciousness to digestion in the stomach or the sharpness of a pain, higher-level features of physical structures which are at the same time caused by lower-level micro-features of these structures. The mind/body problem is solved when we repudiate the dogmatic assumption that all properties are exclusively mental or physical.Read more ›
The book is well-written and interesting. Searle can tear an argument into its constituent pieces, summarize it and raise objections as clearly as anyone. It also provides an excellent survey of some important authors on the subject: Crick, Penrose, Dennett, etc. However, as usual with unsolved philosophical problems, it is far easier to tear down the arguments of others than to make a clear, correct argument yourself. Further, it becomes obvious that the authors (including Searle) are talking past each other...using the same words with different meanings.
The problem is illustrated at the very beginning. On page 5, Searle writes:
"One issue can be dealt with swiftly. There is a problem that...does not seem very serious to me, and that is the problem of defining "consciousness" .... if we distinguish between analytic definitions, which aim to analyze the underlying essence of a phenomenon, and common-sense definitions .... it does not seem to me at all difficult to give a common-sense definition of the term: 'consciousness' refers to those states of sentience and awareness that typically begin when we awake from a dreamless sleep and continue until we go to sleep again"
And hence come many difficulties, because the other authors Searle is studying are not all using this definition. They are not all even using their own common-sense definitions, but may be using analytic definitions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I simply do not agree that thoughts are caused only by chemical reactions. If that would be true there would be now way for somebody to feel that somebody is looking at him/her... Read morePublished 7 months ago by John Smith
When I ordered this, I was not aware that it was mostly the views of other people, but I found it useful anyway, especially in the sections where the writers disputed Searle's... Read morePublished 13 months ago by D. Wolf
Drawing on material originally published in The New York Review of Books, Searle confronts what he terms the mystery of consciousness. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Richard B. Schwartz
John Searle doesn't really make many claims himself in this book. It's more of an overview of the (poor) state of our scientific understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness,... Read morePublished 23 months ago by M. Heu
Searle's "The Mystery of Consciousness" is a very good read. In particular, Searle's argument holds up very well in the face of many other philosophers and thinkers who are... Read morePublished on January 1, 2014 by Timothy E. Kennelly
This is about the fruitless search for the key to consciousness in the brain. The author swats down several theories as to how the brain can create emotions, his low bar for... Read morePublished on December 3, 2013 by John W. Cowan