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Cognitive Science

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: An Introduction

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: An Introduction

By: Graham, George
$20.95
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This book is the most comprehensive introduction yet written to the philosophy of mind: one of philosophy's most active and popular areas. For the philosophy student such topics as mind/body, consciousness, and freedom of the will are examined. For student and general reader, it discusses 'afer-death experience', happiness, mental illness and the minds of animals and God.
PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: Classcial & Contemporary Readings

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: Classcial & Contemporary Readings

$46.95
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What is the mind? Is consciousness a process in the brain? How do our minds represent the world?

Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings is a grand tour of writings on these and other perplexing questions about the nature of the mind. The most comprehensive collection of its kind, the book includes sixty-three selections that range from the classical contributions of Descartes to the leading edge of contemporary debates. Extensive sections cover foundational issues, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of mental content. Three of the selections are published here for the first time, while many other articles have been revised especially for this volume. Each section opens with an introduction by the editor. Philosophy of Mind is suitable for students at all levels and also for general readers.

PLAYFUL BRAIN: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind

PLAYFUL BRAIN: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind

By: Kim, Scott
$16.00
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PURPLE HAZE

PURPLE HAZE

By: Levine, Joseph
$22.00
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Conscious experience presents a deep puzzle. On the one hand, a fairly robust materialism must be true in order to explain how it is that conscious events causally interact with non-conscious, physical events. On the other hand, we cannot explain how physical phenomena give rise to conscious experience.
In this wide-ranging study, Joseph Levine explores both sides of the mind-body dilemma, presenting the first book-length treatment of his highly influential ideas on the "explanatory gap," the fact that we can't explain the nature of phenomenal experience in terms of its physical realization. He presents a careful argument that there is such a gap, and, after providing intriguing analyses of virtually all existing theories of consciousness, shows that recent attempts to close it fall short of the mark. Levine concludes that in the foreseeable future consciousness will remain a mystery.
RACE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS

RACE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS

By: Taylor, John G
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Scientists may be approaching the finish-line in the race to understand consciousness. John Taylor introduces the contending theories, including his own.

There is a sense among scientists that the time is finally ripe for the problem of consciousness to be solved once and for all. The development of new experimental and theoretical tools for probing the brain has produced an atmosphere of unparalleled optimism that the job can now be done properly: The race for consciousness is on!

In this book, John Taylor describes the complete scene of entries, riders, gamblers, and racecourses. He presents his own entry into the race, which he has been working on for the past twenty-five years--the relational theory of consciousness, according to which consciousness is created through the relations between brain states, especially those involving memories of personal experiences. Because it is an ongoing and adaptive process, consciousness emerges from past brain activity. It is this highly subtle and delicate process of emergence that leads to the complexity of consciousness. Taylor does not just present another theory of consciousness, but makes comprehensible the nuts-and-bolts methodology behind the myriad attempts to win the race.

RATIONALITY IN ACTION

RATIONALITY IN ACTION

By: Searle, John R
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The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls the Classical Model of rationality and shows why they are false. He then presents an alternative theory of the role of rationality in thought and action.

A central point of Searle's theory is that only irrational actions are directly caused by beliefs and desires--for example, the actions of a person in the grip of an obsession or addiction. In most cases of rational action, there is a gap between the motivating desire and the actual decision making. The traditional name for this gap is freedom of the will. According to Searle, all rational activity presupposes free will. For rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options.

Unlike many philosophical tracts, Rationality in Action invites the reader to apply the author's ideas to everyday life. Searle shows, for example, that contrary to the traditional philosophical view, weakness of will is very common. He also points out the absurdity of the claim that rational decision making always starts from a consistent set of desires. Rational decision making, he argues, is often about choosing between conflicting reasons for action. In fact, humans are distinguished by their ability to be rationally motivated by desire-independent reasons for action. Extending his theory of rationality to the self, Searle shows how rational deliberation presupposes an irreducible notion of the self. He also reveals the idea of free will to be essentially a thesis of how the brain works.

RECONSTRUCTING THE COGNITIVE WORLD

RECONSTRUCTING THE COGNITIVE WORLD

By: Wheeler, Michael
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In Reconstructing the Cognitive World, Michael Wheeler argues that we should turn away from the generically Cartesian philosophical foundations of much contemporary cognitive science research and proposes instead a Heideggerian approach. Wheeler begins with an interpretation of Descartes. He defines Cartesian psychology as a conceptual framework of explanatory principles and shows how each of these principles is part of the deep assumptions of orthodox cognitive science (both classical and connectionist). Wheeler then turns to Heidegger's radically non-Cartesian account of everyday cognition, which, he argues, can be used to articulate the philosophical foundations of a genuinely non-Cartesian cognitive science. Finding that Heidegger's critique of Cartesian thinking falls short, even when supported by Hubert Dreyfus's influential critique of orthodox artificial intelligence, Wheeler suggests a new Heideggerian approach. He points to recent research in "embodied-embedded" cognitive science and proposes a Heideggerian framework to identify, amplify, and clarify the underlying philosophical foundations of this new work. He focuses much of his investigation on recent work in artificial intelligence-oriented robotics, discussing, among other topics, the nature and status of representational explanation, and whether (and to what extent) cognition is computation rather than a noncomputational phenomenon best described in the language of dynamical systems theory.

Wheeler's argument draws on analytic philosophy, continental philosophy, and empirical work to "reconstruct" the philosophical foundations of cognitive science in a time of a fundamental shift away from a generically Cartesian approach. His analysis demonstrates that Heideggerian continental philosophy and naturalistic cognitive science need not be mutually exclusive and shows further that a Heideggerian framework can act as the "conceptual glue" for new work in cognitive science.

REFERENCE & CONSCIOUSNESS

REFERENCE & CONSCIOUSNESS

By: Campbell, John
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John Campbell investigates how consciousness of the world explains our ability to think about the world; how our ability to think about objects we can see depends on our capacity for conscious visual attention to those things. He illuminates classical problems about thought, reference, and experience by looking at the underlying psychological mechanisms on which conscious attention depends.
SCIENCE OF THE MIND

SCIENCE OF THE MIND

By: Flanagan, Owen
$34.00
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Consciousness emerges as the key topic in this second edition of Owen Flanagan's popular introduction to cognitive science and the philosophy of psychology. in a new chapter Flanagan develops a neurophilosophical theory of subjective mental life. He brings recent developments in the theory of neuronal group selection and connectionism to bear on the problems of the evolution of consciousness, qualia, the unique first-personal aspects of consciousness, the causal role of consciousness, and the function and development of the sense of personal identity. He has also substantially revised the chapter on cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence to incorporate recent discussions of connectionism and parallel distributed processing.
SEEING RED: STUDY IN CONSCIOUSNESS

SEEING RED: STUDY IN CONSCIOUSNESS

By: Humphrey, Nicholas
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"Consciousness matters. Arguably it matters more than anything. The purpose of this book is to build towards an explanation of just what the matter is."

Nicholas Humphrey begins this compelling exploration of the biggest of big questions with a challenge to the reader, and himself. What's involved in "seeing red"? What is it like for us to see someone else seeing something red?

Seeing a red screen tells us a fact about something in the world. But it also creates a new fact--a sensation in each of our minds, the feeling of redness. And that's the mystery. Conventional science so far hasn't told us what conscious sensations are made of, or how we get access to them, or why we have them at all. From an evolutionary perspective, what's the point of consciousness?

Humphrey offers a daring and novel solution, arguing that sensationsare not things that happen to us, they are things we do--originating in our primordial ancestors' expressions of liking or disgust. Tracing the evolutionary trajectory through to human beings, he shows how this has led to sensations playing the key role in the human sense of Self.

The Self, as we now know it from within, seems to have fascinating other-worldly properties. It leads us to believe in mind-body duality and the existence of a soul. And such beliefs--even if mistaken--can be highly adaptive, because they increase the value we place on our own and others' lives.

"Consciousness matters," Humphrey concludes with striking paradox, "because it is its function to matter. It has been designed to create in human beings a Self whose life is worth pursuing."

SELF COMES TO MIND: Constructing the Conscious Brain

SELF COMES TO MIND: Constructing the Conscious Brain

By: Damasio, Antonio
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A leading neuroscientist explores with authority, with imagination, and with unparalleled mastery how the brain constructs the mind and how the brain makes that mind conscious.

Antonio Damasio has spent the past thirty years researching and and revealing how the brain works. Here, in his most ambitious and stunning work yet, he rejects the long-standing idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the body, and presents compelling new scientific evidence that posits an evolutionary perspective. His view entails a radical change in the way the history of the conscious mind is viewed and told, suggesting that the brain's development of a human self is a challenge to nature's indifference. This development helps to open the way for the appearance of culture, perhaps one of our most defining characteristics as thinking and self-aware beings.

SELF EXPRESSIONS

SELF EXPRESSIONS

By: Flanagan, Owen
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"Marked by many sparkling insights." -- The Modern Schoolman. In this trailblazing collection, Flanagan pursues essential philosophical questions from new angles, bringing in the latest insights of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychiatry. He explores questions such as whether the conscious mind can be explained scientifically, whether dreams are self-expressive or just noise, and the nature of psychological phenomena such as multiple personality disorder and false memory syndrome.
SELF-EMBODYING MIND

SELF-EMBODYING MIND

By: Brown, Jason
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This superbly written and finery argued philosophical essay has potentially revolutionary importance for understanding "human consciousness, " and its author has accordingly been celebrated by the likes of Oliver Sachs and Karl Pribram. Showing the relevance of neuropathology for understanding the unifying processes behind perception, memory, and language, Jason Brown offers an exciting new approach to the mind/brain problem, freely crossing the boundaries of neurophysiology, psychology, and philosophy of mind. Hard science and the study of the nature of mind (including Buddhist perspectives) come together in new ways, and without advocating the reductionist "computational model" for the mind/brain relation which dominates cognitive science today.

Brown finds that every event in conscious life passes through highly determinate stages in a fraction of a second. These repeat both the stages of individual growth and of the evolution of the species: Not only does ontogeny recapitulate phylogeny, but the emergence of every moment of awareness recapitulates them both. This process begins deep in the brain stem with the mere awareness of duration, proceeds through concept-formation and image selection, and terminates with the apprehension of an object in the external world. The external object acts as a realistic constraint on consciousness. But in conditions such as brain damage, dream, meditation, as well as creativity, the preconscious stages enter into direct awareness, giving us explicit glimpses of developmental and evolutionary process and presenting a startling reversal of common ideas about the development of mind. Concept and image do not derive from perception and sensation, theycome first. And the principle of consciousness, rather than being a latecomer on the evolutionary and developmental scene, is a potentiality throughout.

This lucidly written book will not disappoint the many readers concerned with the great frontier of scientific exploration -- the nature of consciousness.

SELFLESS INSIGHT: Zen and the Meditative Transformations of Consciousness

SELFLESS INSIGHT: Zen and the Meditative Transformations of Consciousness

By: Austin, James H
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Attention, self-consciousness, insight, wisdom, emotional maturity: how Zen teachings can illuminate the way our brains function and vice-versa.

When neurology researcher James Austin began Zen training, he found that his medical education was inadequate. During the past three decades, he has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. Now, in Selfless Insight, Austin arrives at a fresh synthesis, one that invokes the latest brain research to explain the basis for meditative states and clarifies what Zen awakening implies for our understanding of consciousness. Austin, author of the widely read Zen and the Brain, reminds us why Zen meditation is not only mindfully attentive but evolves to become increasingly selfless and intuitive. Meditators are gradually learning how to replace over-emotionality with calm, clear objective comprehension. In this new book, Austin discusses how meditation trains our attention, reprogramming it toward subtle forms of awareness that are more openly mindful. He explains how our maladaptive notions of self are rooted in interactive brain functions. And he describes how, after the extraordinary, deep states of kensho-satori strike off the roots of the self, a flash of transforming insight-wisdom leads toward ways of living more harmoniously and selflessly. Selfless Insight is the capstone to Austin's journey both as a creative neuroscientist and as a Zen practitioner. His quest has spanned an era of unprecedented progress in brain research and has helped define the exciting new field of contemplative neuroscience.

SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS

SHALLOWS: WHAT THE INTERNET IS DOING TO OUR BRAINS

By: Carr, Nicholas
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"Is Google making us stupid?" When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net's bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet's intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by "tools of the mind"--from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer--Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic--a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption--and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes--Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive--even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.
STAIRWAY TO THE MIND

STAIRWAY TO THE MIND

By: Scott, Alwyn
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This book will encourage the general reader to appreciate current issues in this exciting area of modern research, and will also help a wide variety of scientists - from chemists and biochemists to psychologists and ethnologists- see how their detailed studies are related to an understanding of the nature of consciousness.
STUFF OF THOUGHT: Language as a Window into Human Nature

STUFF OF THOUGHT: Language as a Window into Human Nature

By: Pinker, Steven
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This New York Times bestseller is an exciting and fearless investigation of language from the author of Rationality, The Better Angels of Our Nature and The Sense of Style and Enlightenment Now.

"Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty."
--The New York Times Book Review

Bestselling author Steven Pinker possesses that rare combination of scientific aptitude and verbal eloquence that enables him to provide lucid explanations of deep and powerful ideas. His previous books - including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blank Slate - have catapulted him into the limelight as one of today's most important popular science writers. In The Stuff of Thought, Pinker presents a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. Considering scientific questions with examples from everyday life, The Stuff of Thought is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable work that will appeal to fans of everything from The Selfish Gene and Blink to Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
SUBCONSCIOUSNESS: AUTOMATIC BEHAVIOR AND THE BRAIN

SUBCONSCIOUSNESS: AUTOMATIC BEHAVIOR AND THE BRAIN

By: Agid, Yves
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We are conscious of only a small fraction of our lives. Because the brain constantly receives an enormous quantity of information, we need to be able to do things without thinking about them--to act in "autopilot" mode. Automatic behaviors--the vast majority of our activities--occur without our conscious awareness, or subconsciously. Yet the physiological basis of subconsciousness remains poorly understood, despite its vast importance for physical and mental health.

The neurodegenerative disease expert Yves Agid offers a groundbreaking and accessible account of subconsciousness and its significance. He pinpoints the basal ganglia--the ancient "basement of the brain"--as the main physiological hub of the subconscious. Agid examines its roles in the control and production of automatic behavior, including motor, intellectual, and emotional processes. He highlights the consequences for various brain pathologies, showing how malfunctions of the subconscious have clinical repercussions including not only abnormal involuntary movements, as seen in Parkinson's disease, but also psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorders and depression. Based on this understanding, Agid considers how seeing the basal ganglia as a therapeutic target can aid development of potential new treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Shedding new light on the physiological bases of our behavior and mental states, this book provides an innovative exploration of the complexities of the mind, with implications ranging from clinical applications to philosophy's thorniest problems.

SWEET DREAMS: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

SWEET DREAMS: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

By: Dennett, Daniel C
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In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explained was published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories--"so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of his theory of consciousness, taking into account major empirical advances in the field since 1991 as well as recent theoretical challenges.

In Consciousness Explained, Dennett proposed to replace the ubiquitous but bankrupt Cartesian Theater model (which posits a privileged place in the brain where "it all comes together" for the magic show of consciousness) with the Multiple Drafts Model. Drawing on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, he asserted that human consciousness is essentially the mental software that reorganizes the functional architecture of the brain. In Sweet Dreams, he recasts the Multiple Drafts Model as the "fame in the brain" model, as a background against which to examine the philosophical issues that "continue to bedevil the field."

With his usual clarity and brio, Dennett enlivens his arguments with a variety of vivid examples. He isolates the "Zombic Hunch" that distorts much of the theorizing of both philosophers and scientists, and defends heterophenomenology, his "third-person" approach to the science of consciousness, against persistent misinterpretations and objections. The old challenge of Frank Jackson's thought experiment about Mary the color scientist is given a new rebuttal in the form of "RoboMary," while his discussion of a famous card trick, "The Tuned Deck," is designed to show that David Chalmers's Hard Problem is probably just a figment of theorists' misexploited imagination. In the final essay, the "intrinsic" nature of "qualia" is compared with the naively imagined "intrinsic value" of a dollar in "Consciousness--How Much is That in Real Money?"

TELL-TALE BRAIN: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

TELL-TALE BRAIN: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

By: Ramachandran, V S
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In this landmark work, V. S. Ramachandran investigates strange, unforgettable cases--from patients who believe they are dead to sufferers of phantom limb syndrome. With a storyteller's eye for compelling case studies and a researcher's flair for new approaches to age-old questions, Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in brain science, including language, creativity, and consciousness.

TEN PROBLEMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

TEN PROBLEMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

By: Tye, Michael
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"A fascinating account of the phenomenal aspects of consciousness. Clearly written, philosophically sophisticated, and scientifically informed..Tye's book develops a persuasive and, in many respects, original argument for the view that the qualitative side of our mental life is representational in nature."
-- Fred Dretske, Stanford University

Can neurophysiology ever reveal to us what it is like to smell a skunk or to experience pain? In what does the feeling of happiness consist? How is it that changes in the white and gray matter composing our brains generate subjective sensations and feelings?

THINK SMART: NEUROSCIENTIST'S PRESCRIPTION FOR IMPROVING YOUR BRAINS PERFORMANCE

THINK SMART: NEUROSCIENTIST'S PRESCRIPTION FOR IMPROVING YOUR BRAINS PERFORMANCE

By: Restak, Richard
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From a renowned neuroscientist and bestselling author comes a book that shows readers how to improve and tone the brain.

In the last five years, there have been exciting new scientific discoveries about the brain, its function, and its performance. In this fascinating, entertaining book, brain expert Dr. Richard Restak has asked his colleagues-the world's leading brain scientists and researchers-an important question: What can I do to help my brain work more efficiently? Their surprising answers are at the heart of Think Smart. In his characteristically accessible style, Restak explains the latest scientific discoveries about our brain and gives readers strategies on how they can keep their most powerful organ in top condition and fight off its decline.

THINKING MATTER

THINKING MATTER

By: Catalano, Joseph S
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Thinking Matter is an original and provocative look at the nature of consciousness. While many contemporary philosophers have downplayed the significance of the body and subscribed to a brain/body dualism in human consciousness, Joseph S. Catalano argues that it is the entire fleshy body that thinks; the body of the dancer, the hands of the writer, and the eyes of the reader are not merely instruments of thought, but forms of thought itself. Calling for a thorough rethinking of philosophic traditions from Aristotle to Sartre, Catalano offers a holistic view of the bodily nature of consciousness--one that focuses on the total organic body rather than the brain alone.
TIDES OF MIND: UNCOVERING THE SPECTRUM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

TIDES OF MIND: UNCOVERING THE SPECTRUM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

By: Gelernter, David
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The holy grail of scientists and psychologists since the beginning of artificial intelligence has been to replicate thought patterns of the human mind. Challenging the notion that this can ever be achieved through state-of-the-art research, legendary AI authority David Gelernter--a "rock star" (New York Times) of the computing world--surprisingly turns to literature, hoping that the works of introspective geniuses like Shakespeare, J. M. Coetzee, and Karen Blixen can help answer the same fundamental questions that neuroscientists have been struggling with for generations. Indeed, Gelernter's landmark "spectrum of consciousness" decodes some of the deepest, most mysterious aspects of the human mind, such as the numinous light of early childhood, why sadism and masochism underpin some of our greatest artistic achievements, and why dreams often do predict the future. With "penetrating insight and a graceful, inviting presentation" (National Review), The Tides of Mind revolutionizes our very understanding of what it means to be a human being.

TOUCHING A NERVE: OUR BRAINS, OUR SELVES

TOUCHING A NERVE: OUR BRAINS, OUR SELVES

By: Churchland, Patricia
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What happens when we accept that everything we feel and think stems not from an immaterial spirit but from electrical and chemical activity in our brains? In this thought-provoking narrative--drawn from professional expertise as well as personal life experiences--trailblazing neurophilosopher Patricia S. Churchland grounds the philosophy of mind in the essential ingredients of biology. She reflects with humor on how she came to harmonize science and philosophy, the mind and the brain, abstract ideals and daily life.

Offering lucid explanations of the neural workings that underlie identity, she reveals how the latest research into consciousness, memory, and free will can help us reexamine enduring philosophical, ethical, and spiritual questions: What shapes our personalities? How do we account for near-death experiences? How do we make decisions? And why do we feel empathy for others? Recent scientific discoveries also provide insights into a fascinating range of real-world dilemmas--for example, whether an adolescent can be held responsible for his actions and whether a patient in a coma can be considered a self.

Churchland appreciates that the brain-based understanding of the mind can unnerve even our greatest thinkers. At a conference she attended, a prominent philosopher cried out, "I hate the brain; I hate the brain!" But as Churchland shows, he need not feel this way. Accepting that our brains are the basis of who we are liberates us from the shackles of superstition. It allows us to take ourselves seriously as a product of evolved mechanisms, past experiences, and social influences. And it gives us hope that we can fix some grievous conditions, and when we cannot, we can at least understand them with compassion.

VIEWS INTO A CHINESE ROOM

VIEWS INTO A CHINESE ROOM

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The most famous challenge to computational cognitive science and artificial intelligence is the philosopher John Searle's "Chinese Room" argument. Searle argued that, although machines can be devised to respond to input with the same output as would a mind, machines--unlike minds--lack understanding of the symbols they process. 19 essays by leading scientists and philosophers assess, renew, and respond to this crucial challenge.
WAKING, DREAMING, BEING: SELF AND CONSCIOUSNESS IN NEUROSCIENCE, MEDITATION, AND PHILOSOPHY

WAKING, DREAMING, BEING: SELF AND CONSCIOUSNESS IN NEUROSCIENCE, MEDITATION, AND PHILOSOPHY

By: Thompson, Evan
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A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain.

Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate--either in the waking state or in a lucid dream--we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me." We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self.

Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives.

WANDERING MIND: WHAT THE BRAIN DOES WHEN YOU'RE NOT LOOKING

WANDERING MIND: WHAT THE BRAIN DOES WHEN YOU'RE NOT LOOKING

By: Corballis, Michael C
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If we've done our job well--and, let's be honest, if we're lucky--you'll read to the end of this description. Most likely, however, you won't. Somewhere in the middle of the next paragraph, your mind will wander off. Minds wander. That's just how it is.

That may be bad news for me, but is it bad news for people in general? Does the fact that as much as fifty percent of our waking hours find us failing to focus on the task at hand represent a problem? Michael Corballis doesn't think so, and with The Wandering Mind, he shows us why, rehabilitating woolgathering and revealing its incredibly useful effects. Drawing on the latest research from cognitive science and evolutionary biology, Corballis shows us how mind-wandering not only frees us from moment-to-moment drudgery, but also from the limitations of our immediate selves. Mind-wandering strengthens our imagination, fueling the flights of invention, storytelling, and empathy that underlie our shared humanity; furthermore, he explains, our tendency to wander back and forth through the timeline of our lives is fundamental to our very sense of ourselves as coherent, continuing personalities.

Full of unusual examples and surprising discoveries, The Wandering Mind mounts a vigorous defense of inattention---even as it never fails to hold the reader's.

WAY WE THINK

WAY WE THINK

By: Turner, Mark
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In its first two decades, much of cognitive science focused on such mental functions as memory, learning, symbolic thought, and language acquisition -- the functions in which the human mind most closely resembles a computer. But humans are more than computers, and the cutting-edge research in cognitive science is increasingly focused on the more mysterious, creative aspects of the mind. The Way We Think is a landmark synthesis that exemplifies this new direction. The theory of conceptual blending is already widely known in laboratories throughout the world; this book is its definitive statement. Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner argue that all learning and all thinking consist of blends of metaphors based on simple bodily experiences. These blends are then themselves blended together into an increasingly rich structure that makes up our mental functioning in modern society. A child's entire development consists of learning and navigating these blends. The Way We Think shows how this blending operates; how it is affected by (and gives rise to) language, identity, and concept of category; and the rules by which we use blends to understand ideas that are new to us. The result is a bold, exciting, and accessible new view of how the mind works.
WEDNESDAY IS INDIGO BLUE: DISCOVERING THE BRAIN OF SYNETHESIA

WEDNESDAY IS INDIGO BLUE: DISCOVERING THE BRAIN OF SYNETHESIA

By: Eagleman, David
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How the extraordinary multisensory phenomenon of synesthesia has changed our traditional view of the brain.

A person with synesthesia might feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter "J" as shimmering magenta or the number "5" as emerald green, hear and taste her husband's voice as buttery golden brown. Synesthetes rarely talk about their peculiar sensory gift--believing either that everyone else senses the world exactly as they do, or that no one else does. Yet synesthesia occurs in one in twenty people, and is even more common among artists. One famous synesthete was novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who insisted as a toddler that the colors on his wooden alphabet blocks were "all wrong." His mother understood exactly what he meant because she, too, had synesthesia. Nabokov's son Dmitri, who recounts this tale in the afterword to this book, is also a synesthete--further illustrating how synesthesia runs in families.

In Wednesday Is Indigo Blue, pioneering researcher Richard Cytowic and distinguished neuroscientist David Eagleman explain the neuroscience and genetics behind synesthesia's multisensory experiences. Because synesthesia contradicted existing theory, Cytowic spent twenty years persuading colleagues that it was a real--and important--brain phenomenon rather than a mere curiosity. Today scientists in fifteen countries are exploring synesthesia and how it is changing the traditional view of how the brain works. Cytowic and Eagleman argue that perception is already multisensory, though for most of us its multiple dimensions exist beyond the reach of consciousness. Reality, they point out, is more subjective than most people realize. No mere curiosity, synesthesia is a window on the mind and brain, highlighting the amazing differences in the way people see the world.