Reviews of Conversations on Consciousness OUP 2005
The Philosopher’s Magazine
Not only a brilliant overview of the many different positions in the subject, it also allows the personalities of Blackmore and her interviewees to shine through.
Julian Baggini, August 2007
Susan Blackmore … proves to be an expert interviewer… she probes both the theories and the beliefs of the scientists, posing such fundamental questions as: can there be free will? Is there an independent self? Can consciousness survive the death of the body? The result is a fascinating insight into what neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran describes as the “biggest problem of all”. full review
Review by P D Smith
“Blackmore interrogates 20 mind-body experts – philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and various hybrids. She doesn’t stand on ceremony, is persistent, probing, honest about her puzzlements, and happy to defend her own views if the occasion arises, which once or twice creates a bit of friction (beware the baroness!)” full review
Review by Tom Clark, March 2006
“the intellectual analogue of … speed dating,”
“the often quirky personalities and mannerisms of the interviewees shine through the text”
“Blackmore herself comes across as spunky and clever” full review
Review by Adina Roskies, Nature, 26 January 2006
“The question What is consciousness? provokes all kinds of responses, ranging from jokes about psychedelic drugs to brow-furrowing discourses on life’s meaning… Susan Blackmore posed this question to 21 leading scientists and philosophers who study consciousness for a living.”
Reviewed by Richard Lipkin
“Are some scientists zombies? That is among the thoughts raised by this diverting collection of interviews with neurobiologists, philosophers and others engaged in the study of the mind
… a very efficient overview of contemporary strands of thinking about its subject.”
by Steven Poole, Full review Guardian Unlimited 17 December 2005.
“Blackmore does a good job of teasing out each contributor’s take on it, but don’t expect any easy answers”
Rita Carter, Focus, February 2006
“a frustrating guide to a highly complex subject”.
Science News Review
Consciousness. Where does it come from? Is it somehow separate from the human brain? Can the brain itself comprehend it? Blackmore, a lecturer in psychology at the University of the West of England, poses these and other intriguing questions to some of the top thinkers in philosophy and brain studies. In each interview, the author gets to the heart of the struggle to explain subjective experience in objective, scientific terms. Francis Crick, Daniel Dennett, John Searle, David Chalmers, and others describe the fundamental ideas behind the study of consciousness, including free will, the separation of mind and body, artificial intelligence, and conscious versus unconscious experience.
One remarkable aspect of the consciousness research field is the lack of agreement on what the key subject matter should be. What is the phenomenon for which we need an explanation? Susan Blackmore begins with these questions in Conversations on Consciousness, a collection of interviews with 21 prominent scientists and philosophers. Their answers introduce the reader to some of the concepts and puzzles at the centre of this field…Conversations on Consciousness provides a casual and accessible introduction to the topic. Few topics are specifically detailed, but the empirical and philosophical work summarized in the book is fascinating and easy to read.
Ephraim Glick, EMBO Reports, April 2006
Journal of Consciousness Studies
“Blackmore takes an aggressive, Socratic stance just often enough to make one wish she had tried it more… the book provides a window into the convictions and concerns, both academic and personal, of the key players.”
by Shannon Vallor, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 13, No.6 (2006)
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