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📙 Conversations on Consciousness: What the Best Minds Think about the Brain, Free Will, and What It Means to Be Human by Susan Blackmore — pdf free


This is an interesting book allright. Blackmore is well aware that many important people are missing in this book, but it was never intended to be an encyclopedia of conciousness research. It was intended to be a fresh, simple introduction to the views some philosophers and scientists have on the problems of consiousness, and in this I believe it succeeds. It is certainly not to be read as a definitive source on the views of the various people interviewed. However, it was a refreshing read. And for those who are familiar with the authors extense works, but were perplexed by the complexity of extravagant philosophizing, this little book will be very welcome. By focusing on simple questions, such as "are zombies possible?", or "what is the hard problem?", Blackmore succeeds in focusing the discussions quite nicely. Of course, it would have been very interesting to ask other questions, about the knowledge argument, or blindsight, among many others. But of course, the same ways some important people had to be left out, some important questions had to be ommited. I believe the greatest defect in this book is not the selection of interviews, but the fact that some interviews seem to be quite old, and therefore, the views expressed might not be similar to those in some of the philosphers more current work. This happens, for example in Dennetts chapter. Antoher complain might be Blackmores insistance in asking about free will, only to guide the interview towards her determinist view and supposedly peaceful aceptance of it. Her repetitive mentioning of meditation and such is understandable, given her background, and does offer some intereting discussions (with Metzinger, Varela, for example). But again, the reader might be anoyed by the way she asks about the hard problem and the explanatory gap, where she takes their validity for granted and fails to remain objective in those discussions. It is also quite engaging to find out what many answer when asked about zombies or free will. Although at times the answer is unsurprising (Chalmers or Wegner), in others the aswers are really unexpected. However, Blackmore fails to specify the epistemic, cognitive or metaphysical sense in which she asks wether zombies are or not possible. And also fails to ask what the response given means for physicalism, or dualism, or functionalism. These would have been exellent follow up questions. This book cannot be used as a stand-alone reference for professional philosophers or scientists. However, it will be an entretaing read for them, and a great introduction for the general public as well. For the hardcore followers of the consicousness debate, hearing from the authors themselves, after reading their original works, is an opportunity not to be missed.

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