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Understanding Consciousness

Understanding Consciousness
Author: Max Velmans
ISBN 13: 9780415425162
ISBN 10: 415425166
Edition: 2
Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: 2009-05-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 408
List Price: $54.95

Understanding Consciousness, 2nd Edition provides a unique survey and evaluation of consciousness studies, along with an original analysis of consciousness that combines scientific findings, philosophy and common sense. Building on the widely praised first edition, this new edition adds fresh research, and deepens the original analysis in a way that reflects some of the fundamental changes in the understanding of consciousness that have taken place over the last 10 years.

The book is divided into three parts; Part one surveys current theories of consciousness, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. Part two reconstructs an understanding of consciousness from first principles, starting with its phenomenology, and leading to a closer examination of how conscious experience relates to the world described by physics and information processing in the brain. Finally, Part three deals with some of the fundamental issues such as what consciousness is and does, and how it fits into to the evolving universe. As the structure of the book moves from a basic overview of the field to a successively deeper analysis, it can be used both for those new to the subject and for more established researchers.

Understanding Consciousness tells a story with a beginning, middle and end in a way that integrates the philosophy of consciousness with the science. Overall, the book provides a unique perspective on how to address the problems of consciousness and as such, will be of great interest to psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists and other professionals concerned with mind/body relationships, and all who are interested in this subject.

Michael J. Schrift

This is an excellent, comprehensive review of the philosophical, psychological, and neurobiological aspects of the intriguing topic of consciousness. Written by an internationally recognized expert in the field, this book is a valuable contribution to the current understanding of this fascinating topic. The purpose is to inform the audience about the current state of understanding regarding the phenomena of consciousness and to emphasize that there is not just one mind-body problem, but many. The author makes a rather complicated topic relatively easy to comprehend. The intended audience is any one interested in this topic. You do not need to be a scientist to enjoy this book. The book features 308 pages divided into three parts and 12 chapters, including a reference, name, and subject section. In Part I the focus is on mind-body theories and their problems. In Part II a scientific approach to conscious experience is covered. In Part III, the author develops a ""new synthesis: reflexive monism."" The references are up to date and the index sections are helpful. This is a valuable and comprehensive summary of the state of knowledge of the phenomena of consciousness. Anyone who is interested in this topic, whether a nonprofessional or researcher, should read and refer to this book.