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Consciousness Explained (Penguin Science)

Consciousness Explained (Penguin Science) [Kindle Edition]

Daniel C. Dennett
3.4 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (33 Kundenrezensionen)

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Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience--the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes--that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett's attempt to resolve this dilemma is the "heterophenomenological" method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally--not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater--the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached.

Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. --Glenn Branch


This book revises the traditional view of consciousness by claiming that Cartesianism and Descartes' dualism of mind and body should be replaced with theories from the realms of neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence. What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but "multiple drafts" of reality composed by a computer-like "virtual machine". Dennett considers how consciousness could have evolved in human beings and confronts the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen Dissolving our last great mystery. 15. Juli 2000
This is an extraordinary book but an extraordinarily difficult book to read and understand. You will need to examine your own belief system about consciousness, set it aside while you read the book and try to understand the authors point of view.
Three philosophical ideas run through this book, the first two to be demolished by the author and the third to be put in their place. (1)"The Cartesian Theatre": This is the idea that there is a non-physical mind, separate from the physical brain, where all understanding and consciousness occurs. You can probably already see how this is no explanation at all. But it is a strongly held view by a very large proportion of the population. (2)"Cartesian Materialism": This is the idea that there is a "center" within the brain where all the understanding and consciousness occurs. Again you can probably see that this is no explanation either. It pushes the problem further into the brain and if we now look at this "center" for an explanation of consciousness we are left looking for a center within the "center" and so on in an infinite regress. Its many disguises will fool even the very attentive reader. (3)"Multiple Drafts Theory": This is the theory teased together from the many ideas of the author and his contemporaries. He presents this early on in the book and expands on it throughout the book by means of anecdotes, analogies and thought experiments and shows how this theory can explain well-known conundrums that are unable to be explained by other theories.
Reviewers of this book are basically divided into three camps depending on how they re-interpret the books title. (1)"Consciousness Not Explained": Well, what can I say?
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great, but very heady! 5. Juli 2000
This book is not for someone who bores easily with tedious, abstract philosophical meanderings. While Dennet is a superb thinker, his writing is not for everyone. I recommend the book, but only for those of you with lots of leisure time to deeply ponder the excellent arguments the author makes.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Despite the claims of some reviewers, Dennett does provide an explanation, of sorts, for consciousness. The problem is that very few readers are going to find it a satisfactory one. By integrating findings from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, and by using a clear, persuasive, lively prose style, Dennett gets us to go along with him that it's all just neurons firing in the brain. But where he seems to lose most readers (and where he lost me, even after reading the book twice) is in his discussion of "qualia" (the subjective, "internal" aspects of conscious experience, such as enjoying a glass of wine or a sunset). Qualia, we are told, are illusions that somehow arise from the operations of the nervous system (that is, the processing of sensory information in the brain results in the brain entering a "discriminative state" that just is the sensation of enjoyment that we experience). Well... ok. But I think that most people who are approaching this book are looking for some sort of account of how that neural activity becomes your enjoyment of the colors of a sunset. And I could not really extract such an account from this book (maybe it's there and I just didn't get it).
Dennett is the first to admit (at several places in this book) that his theory is not complete, and that this account offers more of a sketch or outline of what a materialist theory of consciousness would like. The questions that he asks, and his dissection and analyses of actual experimental results, makes this an interesting read. "Half the fun is getting there," as they say. But I think that materialists and mysterians will both find this explanation of consciousness ultimately dissatisfying.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The naysayers are missing the point. 17. November 1998
Consider this: A magician makes a coin "disappear" and you are asked to explain it. You can analyze the illusion and figure out how it works, but you can't actually explain how he made it vanish, since he didn't. It's just a trick, so all you need to do is explain how the trick works, how he made it SEEM to happen. That should be enough to please anyone, but then someone in the audience, upset that you've taken away the mystery, complains that you didn't explain how the disapearance "actually" happened.
This is exactly the reaction Dennett's book is getting. He analyzes what consciousness really is and how it must have come to be, yet these people want something more. Not content with having the actual explained, they demand that he explain the mythical but intuitive notions of the Cartesian theater and qualia and a host of other pleasant falsehoods, just so that they can lock science and philosophy out of the human mind, to keep it sacred for the new mysterians.
Well, they just can't have it. Dennett does explain consciousness, but to do so he must first blow away the myths and that makes the myth-believers unhappy. He shows that evolution is frugal, never paying for more than is actually needed to get the job done. And this leaves us with a true understanding that is all that much more awesome than the illusion it replaces.
If you want to live in a world of pretty colors, avoid this book. But if you care about the truth and want to know what consciousness is and isn't, read it now.
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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
3.0 von 5 Sternen "Anekdoteritis"
Recht unterhaltsame Lektüre, aber die versprochenen Antworten erhält man dann doch nicht. The book may be brilliantly written, but in the end Dennet has quite few to say.
Vor 4 Monaten von Zardos veröffentlicht
4.0 von 5 Sternen What does Dennet expect?
I thought Dennet and a previous reviewer hit upon a significant point by making the comment about "the centre of gravity" - even though the reviewer was somewhat mislead... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 4. März 2000 veröffentlicht
3.0 von 5 Sternen An interesting read, but it falls short.
This book ultimately fails because it doesn't explain consciousness. But never-the-less, it makes an interesting read for philosophically minded people who are interested to read... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 20. Februar 2000 von Andy
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Break from Decartes
Contrary to other reviewers, I believe Dennett has a very powerful definition of Consciousness. Having studied this subject for over 12 years I found this book to be truly... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 30. Januar 2000 von Dan O'Day
5.0 von 5 Sternen It's Tough Going, but ultimately, it succeeds in its aim
This is a truly brilliant work, by one of the (seemingly few) philosophers who, in my opinion, has finally discovered the right way to think about consciousness. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 29. Januar 2000 von Neil Fitzgerald
3.0 von 5 Sternen Consciousness Avoided
A suitable book for obtaining a general idea of the philosophical debates over consciousness. However, the title is misleading. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 22. Januar 2000 von Luis
2.0 von 5 Sternen Not exactly an investigation of consciousness . . .
This book, as has been often said, might better have been titled "Consciousness Explained Away. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 15. Oktober 1999 von Tom Huston
1.0 von 5 Sternen What?
I'm afraid this book doesn't explain consciousness. It doesn't explain how inanimate matter can understand anything. It doesn't explain how Dennet understands anything. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 2. Oktober 1999 von "the_bunnyman"
1.0 von 5 Sternen This book is waste paper.
And so is any book that purports to "reduce" consciousness to something else. If you enjoy handwaving, you'll enjoy watching Dennett try to deny the very existence of... Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 21. September 1999 veröffentlicht
1.0 von 5 Sternen Consciousness pretty much skipped altogether
The one-line summary above says it all. Would that Dennett had been so terse; his failure to address the subject he claims to address would have been obvious.
Am 13. September 1999 veröffentlicht
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consciousness, the special ingredient that turns mere happenings into doings. &quote;
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sometimes an impossibility in fact is theoretically more interesting than a possibility in principle, &quote;
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Its aim was to find a new foundation for all philosophy (indeed, for all knowledge) based on a special technique of introspection, in which the outer world and all its implications and presuppositions were supposed to be bracketed in a particular act of mind known as the epoché. &quote;
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