Theories of Consciousness : An Introduction and Assessment book cover
2nd Edition

Theories of Consciousness
An Introduction and Assessment

ISBN 9780415834094
Published February 25, 2016 by Routledge
402 Pages

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Book Description

Despite recent strides in neuroscience and psychology that have deepened understanding of the brain, consciousness remains one of the greatest philosophical and scientific puzzles. The second edition of Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment provides a fresh and up-to-date introduction to a variety of approaches to consciousness, and contributes to the current lively debate about the nature of consciousness and whether a scientific understanding of it is possible.

After an initial overview of the status and prospects of physicalism in the face of the problem of consciousness, William Seager explores key themes from Descartes - the founder of the modern problem of consciousness. He then turns to the most important theories of consciousness:

  • identity theories and the generation problem
  • higher-order thought theories of consciousness
  • self-representational theories of consciousness
  • Daniel Dennett’s theory of consciousness
  • attention-based theories of consciousness
  • representational theories of consciousness
  • conscious intentionality
  • panpsychism
  • neutral monism.

Thoroughly revised and expanded throughout, this second edition includes new chapters on animal consciousness, reflexive consciousness, combinatorial forms of panpsychism and neutral monism, as well as a significant new chapter on physicalism, emergence and consciousness.

The book’s broad scope, depth of coverage and focus on key philosophical positions and arguments make it an indispensable text for those teaching or studying philosophy of mind and psychology. It is also an excellent resource for those working in related fields such as cognitive science and the neuroscience of consciousness.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Consciousness & Physicalism  2. Themes from Descartes  3. Identity Theories & the Generation Problem  4. HOT Theory I: The Mentalistic Reduction of Consciousness  5. HOT Theory II: Animals, Mental Sophistication & Dispositions  6. Self-Representational Theories7. Dennett I: Qualia Eliminated  8. Dennett II: Consciousness Fictionalized  9. Consciousness & Attention10. Representational Theories of Consciousness I  11. Representational Theories of Consciousness II  12. Conscious Intentionality & the Anti-Cartesian Catastrophe  13. Consciousness, Information & Panpsychism  14. Panpsychism, Aggregation & Combinatorial Infusion  15. Monism & Models.  Index

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William Seager is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, Canada, where he has taught for over 25 years. He is the author of Metaphysics of Consciousness (1991), and Natural Fabrications: Science, Emergence and Consciousness (2012).


'A masterfully updated second edition. Seager has once again skillfully balanced the need to provide a critical overview of standard positions with an in-depth treatment of important recent developments on panpsychism, emergence, neutral monism, and higher-order and self-representational theories of consciousness. It sets the standard for the in-depth treatment of theories of consciousness, and is essential reading for anyone interested in consciousness studies.' - Rocco J. Gennaro, University of Southern Indiana, USA 

'This new edition is a substantial volume, impressive both in breadth and depth. Seager provides a thorough introduction to the maintheories and issues, as well as making a number of original contributions to the debate. It is a book which repays careful study by anyone wanting an advanced overview of the study of consciousness.' - Wayne Wu, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Praise for the first edition:

'This is an excellent survey of recent theories of consciousness.' - Barry Loewer, Rutgers University, USA

'This is a fine book, a fascinating set of discussions of an extremely interesting area.' - John Leslie, University of Guelph, Canada