Susan Blackmore

Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction

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Consciousness, 'the last great mystery for science', remains a hot topic. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? Exciting new developments in brain science are continuing the debates on these issues, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. This controversial book clarifies the potentially confusing arguments, and the major theories, whilst also outlining the amazing pace of discoveries in neuroscience. Covering areas such as the construction of self in the brain, mechanisms of attention, the neural correlates of consciousness, and the physiology of altered states of consciousness, Susan Blackmore highlights our latest findings.
About the Series: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized…
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201 printed pages



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    Radomir Gluhovichas quoted6 months ago
    Yet with all these theories we must still ask why ‘what it’s like’ (i.e. subjective experience) provides a selective advantage over and above the specific abilities that have evolved. The final possibility is to throw out the idea that experiences themselves can do anything. In this ‘illusionist’ view consciousness is not an adaptation but an illusion, not because it is a useless by-product, but because it is not something separable from intelligence, perception, thinking, self-concept, language, or internal modelling.
    Radomir Gluhovichas quoted6 months ago
    If consciousness is an adaptation, if subjective experience is adaptive in its own right, it makes sense to say that we might have evolved without it. But in this case we would not be philosophers’ zombies; we would be more like Hollywood Haitian zombies—creatures deficient in something important. Evolution would then have favoured the conscies. If you take this view, you have to explain what consciousness adds, and you will remember the trouble we had with the concept of consciousness actually doing anything. For a start, it is difficult to see how subjective experiences or what it’s like to be could actually affect anything. Then there is all the evidence that conscious experiences come too late to be the cause of actions or to have the kinds of effects they are commonly thought to have.
    Radomir Gluhovichas quoted6 months ago
    Daniel Wegner suggests that unconscious processes give rise to both thoughts about action and the action itself. We then wrongly infer that our thoughts cause our actions

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