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This fascinating short book is nicely read. It introduces the most important major topics of debate and discussion in consciousness studies, a field whose many unresolved, complex questions pose an especially difficult challenge for the writer of an introductory text like this. Blackmore has a knack for framing her discussion by starting with strange aspects of consciousness that we can all identify with from our daily experience, such as our sneaking suspicion that those around us might be zombies, or wondering whether the smell of coffee is the same to me as it is to others. She provides the most important theories regarding the issues under discussion, drawing from philosophy and cognitive science, then clearly states her own conclusions regarding which theory is most convincing. The book is very well-organized, focused around the “hard problem” regarding consciousness, meaning how the material brain creates it. A common shortcoming of introductory accounts of consciousness is an over-reliance on an often-regurgitated set of case studies that many authors dutifully recite without following up on the implications. This book avoids that mistake. Blackmore is careful to make sure the reader is always aware of the larger significance of the discussion. I found the final chapter especially exciting, where she decisively refutes the intuitive delusions that (1) selfhood perseveres consistently over time, and (2) that consciousness is a stream of experience.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Really thought-provoking. It explores the relationship between the physio-chemical functions of the brain and the phenomenon of consciousness. The author draws on research in various fields to explore questions that have traditionally been discussed by philosophers and mystics: Is there an eternal, unchangeable "me" underneath the fluctuations of my day-to-day experiences? Or is the sense that "I exist" really just an illusion? And lots of other interesting discussions. There are chapters on mental illness, perception and memory, the effects of psycho-active drugs on consciousness, and the question of free will. An interesting read for scientific-types as well as those with philosophical or spiritual orientations.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Interesting read (listen). Thought provoking & informative. Very much enjoyed and will no doubt listen to again. Recommended.
it explored the questions well, gave food for for thought, but I feel was quite biased. The author was on an atheist missionary trip and did well to misrepresent the positions of some religions.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful