Thought and Experience: Consciousness

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Open University Worldwide, 2005 - Philosophy of mind - 278 pages
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This book deals with the nature of consciousness. Many philosophers and psychologists today believe that the mind is a physical phenomenon, whose processes can be explained in scientific terms. Consciousness presents the biggest challenge to this view (the so-called 'hard problem' for a science of the mind). Can the physical sciences really explain the nature of conscious experience-the way it feels to have a throbbing headache, or see a sunset, or smell freshly ground coffee? Or is there more to these experiences than a physical account can ever capture? If consciousness is non-physical, then it is hard to see how it can have effects within the physical world. But if it is physical, then why does it seem so different from other physical phenomena? And what physical processes does it involve? Is the feel of a conscious experience just a matter of what it represents? Does consciousness involve a form of inner awareness? Finally, could it be that our view of consciousness is mistaken? Do we need to rethink some of our fundamental assumptions about it? These questions go to the heart of our conception of ourselves and our place in the universe, and are the subject of vigorous debate among contemporary philosophers.

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