Therefore both determinism and free will could coexist independently. Many psychologists believe that free will is an illusion. In chapter 7, altered states of consciousness, due to sleep and dream, psychoactive drugs, stimulants, out of body experiences, and meditation are discussed in relation to mind and consciousness.
The last chapter presents an interesting discussion about the evolution of consciousness and examines if animals have consciousness.
The author presents arguments in favor of lack of consciousness in animals because they do not have language skills. It is proposed that language and mathematical skills coupled with deep thoughts help humans to communicate about past, present and future that may confer consciousness. This argument is unclear since the term consciousness itself needs to be defined. This book is well written and it is recommended. A great scientist takes a wrong turning From Amazon I first encountered Blackmore's work when, after searching long and hard for a scientific explanation of out-of-body experiences, I came across her book Beyond the Body.
It was astonishingly well researched and offered a rational, convincing explanation for phenomena that were usually neglected by the scientific community. I became an instant fan and have followed her work ever since. In this book a shorter version of her Consciousness: An Introduction she follows Dennett by denying the existence of consciousness and then indulging in much speculation about the properties and evolutionary history of this non-existent entity.source link
Consciousness, she maintains, is an 'illusion', which she defines as something that exists but does not have the properties it appears to have. She then proceeds to discuss it as if it does not in fact exist, and slips into calling it a 'delusion', which she apparently regards as a synonymous term.
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So far, so Dennett. She follows Dawkins by labeling just about everything a 'meme' as Poe might have said 'All that we see or seem is but a meme within a meme' , unless she happens not to approve of it, in which case it is 'a virus of the mind'. As an example, she indulges in a quite intemperate and completely irrelevant rant against religion, in which Roman Catholicism is described as a parasitic infection.
Like Dennett and Dawkins, she leaves no axe unground. So why do I give the book 5 stars if I disagree with so much of it? Well, I guess you can't keep a good scientist down, and Blackmore is still a great scientist. She brings considerable knowledge and erudition to the subject, presents fair summaries of opposing views, and gives excellent descriptions of odd phenomena like Libet's Delay and the Cutaneous Rabbit.
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And her style is as readable as ever. I was suspicious when I saw that her son Jolyon had contributed many of the illustrations - it smacked of nepotism - but I have to say his drawings are really charming and add greatly to the text. The other illustrations are useful too - with the possible exception of a photograph of the author opening a fridge door - which isn't always the case with this series. The book ends with a very useful Further Reading list. It's thus an excellent introduction to the subject although I think John Searle's The Mystery of Consciousness is still the best place to start.
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So, I shall keep the faith and continue to read everything Susan Blackmore publishes. I just hope that one day, just as she once abandoned a belief in the paranormal, she sees the light and abandons the axis of drivel.
Susan Blackmore has produced a very bad cookbook or travel book for consciousness that offers very little - and barely relevant - science, a great deal of her own opinion, gossip, and a thoroughly muddled narrative. I was hoping for a brief introduction to real cognitive science. This is a book that my 7-year old grandson could have produced, given enough time, TV, video games, bribes, and no pressure at continuity.
The Romans identified it, the early Christians appropriated it, and Reformation Protestants and loyal Catholics relied upon its advice and admonition. Today it is embraced with equal conviction by non-religious and religious alike.
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