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A Universe Of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination Paperback – March 6, 2001
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Though Edelman and Tononi do make a good effort to help out the lay reader, ultimately A Universe of Consciousness is aimed at the interdisciplinary gang of scientists and academics trying to understand our shared but invisible experience. The first sections of the book cover the basic philosophical, psychological, and biological elements essential to their theory. Swiftly the authors proceed to define terms and concepts (even the long-abused term complexity gets a reappraisal) and elaborate on these to create a robust, testable theory of the neural basis of consciousness. Following this hard work, they consider some ramifications of the theory and take a close look at language and thinking. This much-needed jump-start is sure to provoke a flurry of experimental and theoretical responses; A Universe of Consciousness might just help us answer some of the greatest questions of science, philosophy, and even poetry. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Scientific American
EDITORS OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors describe their work as a "theory of consciousness"--completely misleading in another sense. Even if we were able to precisely understand what neural processes lead to consciousness, which neurons were involved, etc., the consciousness mystery still would not be solved. The most fascinating and mysterious question is "HOW do the neural processes lead to consciousness?" Uncovering the neural processes associated with consciousness is a great way to begin, perhaps the only way. However, to call the authors' work a "theory of consciousness" is absurd. Imagine a 18th century person able to view the modern automobile through timetravel. Suppose here were able to deduce that turning a key started the automobile, pushing the right pedal made it accelerate, etc. before he was forced to return to his time. Would his knowledge be a "theory of the automobile"?Read more ›
The early parts of the book discuss the `impasse' reached by many philosophers in their attempts to explain the `mind-body' problem whilst rejecting both strong dualist and reductionist positions: "..consciousness requires the activity of specific neuronal substrates .......... but is itself a process, not an object". There is a clear appeal to holistic thinking here (`the whole is greater than the sum of its parts') - but the message is more subtle. What Edelman & Tononi are pointing out is that, still in need of explanation is the fact that although the contents of consciousness change continually, its possessor remains continuous.Read more ›
It is certainly not an easy book. One should have a basic knowledge of the constitution and the working of the brain.
I, personally, would have liked more concrete examples, like those for instance in the book of C.J. Lumsden and E.O. Wilson 'Promethean Fire'.
This book doesn't explain how consciousness arises, but what it is (properties) and how it works.
Consciousness is not a thing or a property, but a process (of neural interactions).
One of the reviewers here compares consciousness to a car. But a car is a thing, not a process.
Consciousness is a private, integrated, coherent, differentiated, informative, continually changing process.
The authors make also the opportune distinction between primary (animal, unconscious) and higher-order consciousness (the ability to be conscious of being conscious).
Crucial for the authors are re-entrant interactions, degeneracy (recategorical memory), and a part of the brain 'the dynamic core' (a subset of neuronal groups responsible for consciousness).
The dynamic core provides then a rationale for distinguishing conscious processes from unconscious ones (e.g. the circuits that regulate blood pressure).
This book shows clearly that the brain is not a computer and that it doesn't work as a computer program or algorithm.
It has also very important philisophical consequences, which the authors summarize as follows: being is prior to describing, selection is prior to logic and doing is prior to understanding.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most complete and convincing account of the development of the embodied brain yet written. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Charles Scurlock
Although the true nature of consciousness may be as elusive as ever, Edelman & Tononi make a compelling case for it arising as a 'dynamic core' of integrated neural responses to... Read morePublished 17 months ago by R.H.Page
It is redundant the admiration suscited by the Reading of one more of yours writings, and this opens news ideas about the interaction among consciousness and imagination.Published 19 months ago by Antonio Sapienza
I first read Edelman's "Bright Air Brilliant Fire" sometime around 1990; at that time I was beginning to change my "search for the meaning of 'Truth'" from studying... Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by "Suttle Fox"
Finally, presented here, is an alternative (actually a solution) to the mind/brain hard problem. Edelman and Tononi posit that consciousness is not a separate entity from the... Read morePublished on August 17, 2012 by MokuDo Taobul
I found the book interesting and appreciated the attention given to the neural circuit of the cortex-thalamus- and various subsystems (especially the basil ganglia). Read morePublished on February 13, 2012 by barryb