What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. This engaging book–part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation–describes Koch’s search for an empirical explanation for consciousness.
Ray Jackendoff's Language, Consciousness, Culture represents a breakthrough in developing an integrated theory of human cognition. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of cognitive scientists, including linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.
This volume of Ned Block's writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism. A number of these papers treat the significance of the multiple realizability of mental states for the mind-body problem—a theme that has concerned Block since the 1960s. One paper on this topic considers the upshot for the mind-body problem of the possibility of a robot that is functionally like us but physically different—as is Commander Data of Star Trek's second generation.
Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the issue. Like actions, he argues, the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain. Yet if psychological and neural mechanisms are responsible for all human behavior, how could we have conscious will?
Physicalism is the idea that if everything that goes on in the universe is physical, our consciousness and feelings must also be physical. Ever since Descartes formulated the mind-body problem, a long line of philosophers has found the physicalist view to be preposterous. According to John Perry, the history of the mind-body problem is, in part, the slow victory of physical monism over various forms of dualism. Each new version of dualism claims that surely something more is going on with us than the merely physical.
This book investigates the philosophical, empirical, and theoretical bases on which a cognitive neuroscience of consciousness can be founded. The research questions reviewed include: Does perception occur without awareness? Can the neural bases of perceptual awareness be visualized with brain-imaging methods? What do unilateral neglect and extinction tell us about conscious and unconscious processing? What is the contribution of brainstem nuclei to conscious states? How can we identify mental processes uniquely associated with consciousness?
Can there be a science of consciousness? This issue has been the focus of three landmark conferences sponsored by the University of Arizona in Tucson. The first two conferences and books have become touchstones for the field. This volume presents a selection of invited papers from the third conference. It showcases recent progress in this maturing field by researchers from philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, phenomenology, and physics.
At the 1994 landmark conference "Toward a Scientific Basis for Consciousness," philosopher David Chalmers distinguished between the "easy" problems and the "hard" problem of consciousness research. According to Chalmers, the easy problems are to explain cognitive functions such as discrimination, integration, and the control of behavior; the hard problem is to explain why these functions should be associated with phenomenal experience. Why doesn't all this cognitive processing go on "in the dark," without any consciousness at all?
What is consciousness? The answer to this question has been pondered upon, grappled with, and argued about since time immemorial. There has never been an answer that achieved consensus; certainly philosophers have never agreed.