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The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521674126
ISBN-10: 0521674123
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Editorial Reviews


"This volume provides readers from many disciplines with the foundation and knowledge to date on the very comprehensive and complex study of consciousness."
--Janet L. Etzi, PsycCRITIQUES

"...the breath of coverage is impressive....a useful resource....In sum, the book displays how thoroughly our dualistically oriented culture's scientific investigation of human behavior is held in the grip of ancient traditional constructs that are imposed on observed events..."
--Noel W. Smith, State University of New York at Plattsburg, The Psychological Record

Book Description

This handbook brings together leading scholars from around the world who address the topic of consciousness from a wide variety of perspectives from philosophical to anthropological to neuroscientific. An authoritative desk reference which will also be suitable as an advanced textbook.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology
  • Paperback: 998 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521674123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521674126
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dr. Richard G. Petty on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently reviewed the excellent The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, and I had expected that this book would be similar. In fact the two are excellent complements to each other.

So what is this book about, how is it structured, and how does it differ from the Blackwell Companion?

Both books set out to answer some of the Big Questions: How does consciousness arise in the human brain? What is self-awareness? What are the most promising theoretical and experimental approaches to the questions of consciousness?

The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness casts a wide net. There are 31 substantial chapters written by almost fifty of the best known authorities in different aspects of consciousness.

1. Introduction

PART I The Cognitive Science Of Consciousness
A. Philosophy

2. A Brief History of the Philosophical Problem of Consciousness: William Seager
3. Philosophical Theories of Consciousness: Contemporary Western Perspectives: Uriah Kriegel
4. Philosophical Issues: Phenomenology: Evan Thompson and Dan Zahavi
5. Asian Perspectives: Indian Theories of Mind: Georges Dreyfus and Evan Thompson

B. Computational Approaches To Consciousness
6. Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness: Drew McDermott
7. Computational Models of Consciousness: A Taxonomy and Some Examples: Ron Sun and Stan Franklin

C. Cognitive Psychology
8. Cognitive Theories of Consciousness: Katharine McGovern and Bernard J. Baars
9. Behavioral, Neuroimaging, and Neuropsychological Approaches to Implicit Perception: Daniel J. Simons, Deborah E. Hannula, David E. Warren, and Steven W. Day
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Format: Paperback
The first two chapters are nearly impenetrable, but such is the nature of philosophers writing on consciousness. If I were to give awards for impenetrable literature I would award third place to political and economic philosophers (think Marx and Veblen), second place to corporate lawyers, and the grand prize to anyone writing on consciousness, with a special award to philosophers writing on consciousness. (Even Daniel Dennett-not a contributor to this volume--can be annoying!).

The first problem is defining consciousness itself. Most of the contributors to this heavy (3.6 pounds--don't drop it on your toe!) tome give, or at least attempt, some sort of definition; however often their definitions are so highly qualified and so thoroughly couched in technical language that the general reader is not further informed. This is clearly a book for specialists, the "handbook" in the title notwithstanding. ("hand.book n. 1. a concise manual or reference book providing specific information or instruction about a subject" --the American Heritage Dictionary).

But concise this handbook is not. There is little to no instruction that I could find, but there is information and plenty of it. Almost a thousand pages long, with each page containing two dense columns, this is the sort of book that will never be read from cover to cover by any but the most masochistic of readers. For those whose professional work requires being up to date on the latest thinking about consciousness, this book may be of some real value as a reference. The author index contains about 3,500 individual names! The subject index covers 42 double-column pages. Furthermore, each essay (there are 31 of them) contains book and article references, in all hundreds of them. And there are some footnotes.
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