- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (October 20, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316180661
- ISBN-13: 978-0316180665
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 159 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.59 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Consciousness Explained Paperback – October 20, 1992
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience--the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes--that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett's attempt to resolve this dilemma is the "heterophenomenological" method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally--not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater--the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached.
Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. --Glenn Branch
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers introduces the notion: qualia - phenomena where subjective processing is accompanied by ineffable aspects of conscious experience (which apprehends the redness of red, the beauty of mathematical forms, love, the selfness experience). Indeed, qualia are in the eye of the beholder: the beholder's perceptual experience, the beholder's subjective experience, and the beholder's conceptualization of esoteric attributes of the experience. Dennett presents an argument against qualia; that the concept is so confused it cannot be put to any use or be understood in empirical ways; that qualia do not constitute a valid extension of physical experience.
While refuting qualia, Dennett extols memes which are pregnant ideas and cultural items putatively transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes. Dennett, sees memes as a units of selection, which persist across generations like genes. He posits a neural Darwinism where meme evolution can even account for the origin of morality and explain religious belief and adherence to it (Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, also by Dennett)
Dennett attributes the seeming transcendence of consciousness beyond its neural network containment as the "tricky illusory theatrics of consciousness." Dennett's analyses of consciousness places much faith on what constitutes accepted scientific truth and dogma; on huge collections of reproducible experimental data, but not on imaginative thought about what the data might mean or ultimately signify. There is a large body of accumulated physical and neurophysiological data that virtually cries out for imaginative reinterpretation to break the logjam which is blocking blanket acceptance of the transcendence of human consciousness.
In My Universe - A Transcendent Reality Alex Vary offers an imaginative reinterpretation of the empirical data Dennett esteems and contemplates. Vary proposes a paradigmatic framework and some new concepts which can help explain the seemingly transcendent nature of human consciousness. What Vary proposes are akin to 'tools of thought' advocated by Dennett in Consciousness Explained and should serve at least for discussion and elucidation purposes.
Vary presumes that consciousness is an attribute of a reality that preexists its localized foci in self-aware human or their neural networks. Dennett dismisses the notion of such selfness existing before birth as a fiction, ". . . an organization of information that has structured your body's control system (or, to put it in its more usual provocative form, if what you are is the program that runs on your brain's computer), then you could in principle survive the death of your body as intact as a program can survive the destruction of the computer on which it was created and first run." Dennett characterizes the notion of an automaton's or a computer's assumption of transcendent consciousness as a hankering for immortality; as if a computer program could hanker for self-perpetuation, or anything beyond its ken. Dennett shrugs off the dilemma by declaring "as with all the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist - and hope - that there will never be a demystification of consciousness."
I resisted getting this book for a long time because I thought it was impossible to explain consciousness, and therefore that Dennett had to be wrong, and therefore the title implied that he was a pompous self-assured ass. But as is so often the case, I was wrong.
Dennett succeeds in completely dismantling the "Cartesian Theater", not just in an abstract philosophical way, but in a way that changed the model I have of myself. It's rare to have a truly new thought, but this book succeeded in planting one.
And now, I'm off to buy another Dennett book, because I want to know what he's had to say since 1992!
Most recent customer reviews
It will be much more useful to read well-structured modern papers in philosophy of mind than to...Read more