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A Dialogue on Consciousness

ISBN: 9780195375305 | 0195375300
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Pub. Date: 1/13/2009

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What is consciousness? Is it a physical or a non-physical phenomenon? If it is physical, why does it elude scientific explanation? If it is not physical, how can it be explained? A Dialogue on Consciousness introduces readers, in dialogue form, to the problem of consciousness; it explores the main arguments for and against physicalism - the view that consciousness is entirely physical - and the several levels of debate surrounding those arguments. The dialogue takes place ina university library, after hours, where the two protagonists, impoverished graduate students Tollens and Ponens, sleep in lieu of proper accomodations. Through the course of five nights and a Saturday morning, they quote key passages from classic and contemporary texts while discussing the majortheories on the subject: Frank Jackson's knowledge argument, philosophical "zombies," the inverted spectrum, epiphenomenalism, neutral monism, panpsychism, the problem of mental causation, the ability hypothesis, the phenomenal concept strategy, and more. The dialogue ends with the studentscontemplating the merits and drawbacks of modern physicalist views and non-physicalist alternatives.While A Dialogue on Consciousness is an entertaining and accessible introduction to some of the most complicated issues in contemporary philosophy, it does not forego rigor. Arguements and responses are precisely formulated and discussed in non-technical terms. Positions are considered with the carethat they receive in professional literature. An expansive, categorized and annotated Reading Suggestions list is included at the end of the book to direct readers to the most relevant and helpful primary sources.Ideal for courses on the philosophy of mind and on consciousness, the book provides a thorough, up-to-date orientation to the debate about consciousness and physicalism.

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