THOMAS METZINGER (ED.)
''The best concerted voice to date
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$19.90 (UK£ 9.95) ISBN 0 907845 05 3 (paperback)
$39.90 (UK£ 19.95) ISBN 0 907845 10 X (hardback)
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The key question is how can consciousness arise in a physical universe? Is it possible that phenomenal experience could just somehow emerge from a physical base? Could subjective sensations and the emergence of an inner perspective be components of the natural order -- or are we dealing with a grey area on the map of the scientific worldview that perhaps will have to remain a grey area as a matter of principle?
The problem of consciousness - perhaps together with the question of the origin of our universe -- today lies at the very limits of human understanding. It appears to many to be the last great puzzle and the greatest theoretical challenge of our time. Clearly a solution to the puzzle through empirical research alone would equal a scientific revolution of the first order. However it's much more likely that the challenge will involve a major theoretical upheaval, for three reasons. First of all it is not at all clear, on closer inspection, what the puzzle of consciousness actually is and what we would accept as a convincing solution. Secondly, we are concerned here with ourselves in a very strong sense of the word, because it is our own consciousness that we want to understand. The problem of consciousness, therefore, is also a problem of self-knowledge, which affects all of us -- not just philosophers and scientists. For this reason one may, thirdly, assume that such a revolution will have greater social and cultural ramifications than any prior theoretical upheaval. This could happen in the context of a radically changed picture of ourselves -- or new technologies derived from the neurosciences and artificial intelligence. These three reasons have led recently to an increasing restlessness in the participatory sciences, and also to a growing interest among the general public in the connection between brain and conscious experience.
Researchers in the empirical sciences are becoming increasingly aware that, more so than in any other area, consciousness research needs to be grounded in a philosophical context. It was philosophers who first mapped out this important complex of theoretical questions and who haveover the course of many centuries developed a variety of different answers and theories of consciousness. German philosopher Thomas Metzinger here presents an outstanding collection of the best current work by philosophers on the problem of consciousness.
The range of international authors chosen for this volume is breathtaking: Ansgar Beckermann, Peter Bieri, Dieter Birnbacher, David Chalmers, Patricia Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Rick Grush, Guven Guzeldere, Robert Kirk, Martin Kurthen, Joseph Levine, William Lycan, Colin McGinn, Norton Nelkin, Martine Nida-Rumelin, David Papineau, Diana Raffman, Georges Rey, David Rosenthal, Eva Ruhnau, Michael Tye, Robert van Gulick and Kathy Wilkes.
The contributions to this book are original articles.They represent an excellent cross-section of current philosophical work on consciousness and thereby allow students and readers from other disciplines to acquaint themselves with the very latest debate, so that they can then pursue their own research interests more effectively.
Together with a comprehensive general introduction into the problem ofconsciousness, the reader will find short introductions to the eight thematic subsections, combined with selected recommendations for further reading. At the end of this volume there is the best publicly available bibliography on consciousness in philosophy, cognitive science and brain research, covering the last 25 years and consisting of over 1000 entries in 18 thematic sections.
Taken together with the exceptionally low price for the paperback edition, this book offers excellent value, both for the general reader and the professional philosopher. It is a definite ``must'' for anyone with a serious interest in the newly emerging interdisciplinary field of consciousness research.
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Journal of Consciousness Studies