Consciousness is arguably the most important interdisciplinary area in contemporary philosophy of mind, with an explosion of research over the past thirty years from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists. It is also perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world despite the fact that it is familiar to each of us. Consciousness also seems resistant to any straightforward physical explanation.
This book introduces readers to the contemporary problem of consciousness, providing a clear introduction to the overall landscape and a fair-minded critical survey of various theories of consciousness. Beginning with essential historical background to the problem of consciousness, Rocco Gennaro explores the following key topics and debates:
- the metaphysical problem of consciousness, including varieties of dualism and materialism;
- consciousness and neuroscience, particularly the question of whether consciousness can be reduced to brain activity or attentional mechanisms;
- representational and cognitive theories of consciousness;
- consciousness and psychopathology;
- animals, machines, and consciousness.
Extensive use is made of interesting phenomena throughout the book, ranging from blindsight, synaesthesia, and change blindness to phantom limb syndrome, split-brain cases, and dissociative identity disorder (DID).
The inclusion of chapter summaries, annotated further reading, and a glossary make this book essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and informative overview of the problem of consciousness, not only in philosophy but related fields such as psychology and cognitive science.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Problem of Consciousness
1. The Metaphysics of Consciousness
2. Consciousness, Neuroscience, and Attention
3. Representational and Cognitive Theories of Consciousness
4. Consciousness and Psychopathology
5. Animal and Machine Consciousness
Concluding Thoughts and Future Directions
Rocco J. Gennaro is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Indiana, USA. His most recent books are The Consciousness Paradox: Consciousness, Concepts, and Higher-Order Thoughts (2012) and Disturbed Consciousness: New Essays on Psychopathologies and Theories of Consciousness (2015).
Featured Author Profiles
'Consciousness is one of the central issues in philosophy of mind, and Rocco Gennaro’s book is a terrific introduction to the topic for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates. Indeed, anyone interested in consciousness or the mind is sure to learn much from it.' - Jacob Berger, Idaho State University, USA
'Drawing on a vast array of interdisciplinary sources, Gennaro shows how issues concerning consciousness intersect with a number of topics of contemporary concern - from selfhood to psychopathology, from animals to machines. Perfect for any reader looking for an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the debate about consciousness!' - Amy Kind, Claremont McKenna College, USA
'A clear, helpful and well-organized tour of the central issues that concern consciousness. Gennaro covers a broad range of theories - all of which are the basis of current research - in a way that is accessible to undergraduates. This is a great textbook for teaching, and an essential introduction to the subject of consciousness.' - Nico Orlandi, University of California at Santa Cruz, USA
'This is an excellent introduction to the topic of consciousness, providing an exciting tour through a wide range of topics of contemporary interest. It is accessible and highly readable, and at the same time rigorous and empirically informed. It is well suited for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, researchers, or anyone who wants to get up to speed on the cutting edge of consciousness research.' - Angela Mendelovici, University of Western Ontario, Canada