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There's Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument (Bradford Books) [Kindle Edition]

Peter Ludlow , Yujin Nagasawa , Daniel Stoljar
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Frank Jackson's famous thought experiment, Mary is confined to a black-and-white
room and educated through black-and-white books and lectures on a black-and-white television. In
this way, she learns everything there is to know about the physical world. If physicalism -- the
doctrine that everything is physical -- is true, then Mary seems to know all there is to know. What
happens, then, when she emerges from her black-and-white room and sees the color red for the first
time? Jackson's knowledge argument says that Mary comes to know a new fact about color, and that,
therefore, physicalism is false. The knowledge argument remains one of the most controversial and
important arguments in contemporary philosophy.There's Something About Mary -- the first book
devoted solely to the argument -- collects the main essays in which Jackson presents (and later
rejects) his argument along with key responses by other philosophers. These responses are organized
around a series of questions: Does Mary learn anything new? Does she gain only know-how (the ability
hypothesis), or merely get acquainted with something she knew previously (the acquaintance
hypothesis)? Does she learn a genuinely new fact or an old fact in disguise? And finally, does she
really know all the physical facts before her release, or is this a "misdescription"? The arguments
presented in this comprehensive collection have important implications for the philosophy of mind
and the study of consciousness.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Ludlow, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, is the author of Semantics, Tense, and Time: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Natural Language (MIT Press, 1999), among other books, and the editor of Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias (MIT Press, 2001) and High Noon on the Electronic Frontier (MIT Press, 1996).

Yujin Nagasawa is Research Fellow at the Australian National University and Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta.

Daniel Stoljar is Senior Fellow at the Australian National University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3285 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (December 1, 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031RFVGC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #521,865 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but where are the neuro-scientists? June 6, 2011
While the book does a great job of collecting the views of the major current philosophers on this topic, it didn't address possibly what to me is the most interesting paper to date on this subject. I speak of the 1998 paper by V. S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein--"Three Laws of Qualia: What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological Functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self."

In this paper the authors pose a convincing explanation for the knowledge problem. They argue that the epistemological barrier is only apparent, is essentially one of language, and the experience itself is lost in the translation. They imply that Mary never had all the physical facts as her brain never went into that configuration of neurons that mean the person is experiencing or seeing the color red, and that had Mary had available to her a "neuron bridge" through which this purely physical configuration was made available to her, only then could we reasonable say she had all the physical facts known to her. In other words, an important physical fact of the color red for a human includes the way the neurons in our brain configure on seeing red.

The omission of this paper and also of any discussion of this paper, which was published in a very well known journal, about six years before the date of publication of this book, is a surprising, puzzling, and serious omission. For this reason I only give this book three stars--many of the papers are rendered moot in my opinion as they fail to account for the very understandable, commonsense concept above, proposed by Ramachandran and Hisrstein. All the papers in the volume are authored exclusively by philosophers and in this day and age, this kind of silofication on a topic, particularly in the cognitive sciences, should be a thing of the past.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many syllables April 5, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book contains thoughtful essays that critique Frank Jackson's story about Mary. The selections offered what seemed to my unprofessional viewpoint to be wide-ranging and comprehensive. I thought Frank Jackson's own commentaries were among the most readable and penetrating. Excepting Jackson and maybe one or two others, the various authors, all professional philosophers, seem helpless when offered opportunities to use big words when small ones would serve. Did they want to be understood, or admired at a distance by lesser beings? If I were grading the essays, writers in the habit of using words greater than 6 syllables would be encouraged to revise their sentences. Or hanged.
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More About the Author

Yujin Nagasawa is Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Birmingham in the UK. He is author of The Existence of God (Routledge, 2011) and God and Phenomenal Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and editor/co-editor of three books: There's Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument (MIT Press, 2004), New Waves in Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and Scientific Approaches to Philosophy of Religion (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). He was awarded the Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize in 2007 and the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise in 2008. Yujin Nagasawa's website:


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