Enter your mobile number 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.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $12.95
  • Save: $3.05 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In stock on August 1, 2016.
Order it now.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The Mystery of Consciousn... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Support Your Planet. Buy CLEAN EARTH BOOKS. Shipping orders swiftly since 2008. This book is in excellent condition and comes with a 100% Money Back Guarantee. Our customer service can't be beat! Tracking included on all orders.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

The Mystery of Consciousness Paperback – January 1, 1990

3.9 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$5.37 $0.83

Up to 50% off select Non-Fiction books
Featured titles are up to 50% off for a limited time. See all titles
$9.90 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In stock on August 1, 2016. Order it now. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Mystery of Consciousness
  • +
  • Mind: A Brief Introduction (Fundamentals of Philosophy Series)
  • +
  • The Rediscovery of the Mind (Representation and Mind)
Total price: $57.89
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


For sheer intellectual brio, it would be hard to beat John R. Searle's The Mystery of Consciousness. Mr. Searle, a philosopher at Berkeley, casts a critical eye on recent attempts to solve the mind-body problem--how it is that the lump of gray meat in your skull produces consciousness--by eminent thinkers like Daniel Dennett, Roger Penrose and Francis Crick. Often he gives a clearer account of their ideas than can be found in their own books. With vigorous logic, he teases out the contradictions of dualism, materialism and computer-inspired "artificial intelligence," which denies the very existence of consciousness. For evidence to the contrary, he urges the reader to pinch himself--which is the only thing that might detract from the pleasure of this book. -- The Wall Street Journal, Jim Holt

About the Author

John Searle is Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent publications include Mind: A Brief Introduction (2004), Consciousness and Language (2002) and Rationality in Action (2001, 2003).

Chalmers is Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The New York Review of Books; 1st edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940322064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940322066
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Gwinn on November 21, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Searle is certainly not timid in this collection of essays, based on reviews he wrote in the New York Review of Books. However, Searle is not really combative either - he is rather very straightforward in his argumentation. That, combined with the back-and-forth responses between Searle and some of the reviewed authors is very instructive to introducing one to some of the various philosophical stances toward consciousness and the mind-brain problem.
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 ›
1 Comment 68 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Searle's new book is a compilation of articles previouslypublished in The New York Review of Books, from 1995-1997. While thearticles are self-contained, there is a definite theme that runsthrough them: that recent attempts to explain consciousness are either based on conceptual confusion or offer solutions that are at best promissory notes. Among those singled out for conceptual confusion are Roger Penrose, Daniel Dennett, and David Chalmers. Those who are in the right ballpark but do not deliver on their claims are Francis Crick, Gerald Edelman, and Israel Rosenfeld. Or, to put it more succinctly, the former group is conceptually confused since they do not share Searle's view that consciousness is an irreducible biological property of the brain. The latter group fails to deliver because, while they correctly treat consciousness as a biological phenomenon, they do not explain consciousness in the sense of giving an account of how the brain actually causes conscious states.
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 ›
2 Comments 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
"The Mystery of Consciousness" is simply an expansion and revision of a series of book reviews from the mid 90s. Searle has added a first and last chapter in which he expounds his own views and included the written responses of a couple of the authors to his original reviews. Essentially then, the book is a work of criticism with a dash of the author's own views.

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 ›
1 Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: consciousness, humanism, science books, access consciousness