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Susan Greenfield and Colin Blakemore


The nature of consciousness is one of the hard problems of philosophy, but it isn't just a philosophical question - neuroscience is making significant progress in this area. Mindwaves, edited by Susan Greenfield and Colin Blakemore is a collection of 32 articles on various aspects of this subject, with many well know contributors such as John Searle, Roger Penrose, Marian S Dawkins and John Eccles.

The first part of the book looks at what constitutes a person - in divided brain patients are there two minds or one? The second part asks what degree of consciousness exists in animals.

There is then a section examining the possibilities of machine consciousness, followed by a look at how consciousness might arise from the physical structure of the brain. The last part of the book is rather a let down - philosophy of the worst kind, going on about the meaning of words and the like. For instance, you shouldn't say that the eyes communicate information to the brain because that implies a conscious receiver. But the advantage of a book like this is that you can evaluate the views of various people without having to plough through a whole book by each of them. Overall I would say that the diversity of viewpoints are helpful in making sense of a confusing subject, and, although it is nearly 20 years old, it would be a useful addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in the study of consciousness  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews