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No one should pay a cent for a theory of consciousness, let alone a review of it

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Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

Let alone a review of a theory of consciousness.

In “Neuroscience: The mind mapped” (Nature, 483, 271-272, 15 March 2012), Robert Stickgold reviews Christof Koch’s Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press: 2012), without providing a clear reason why we should consider reading the book,

The psychologist Stuart Sutherland wrote that it is impossible to define consciousness “except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means … Nothing worth reading has been written about it.” It is arguable whether Christof Koch’s Consciousness provides such a definition, but the book is definitely worth reading.

Is it?

From Koch’s collaborations with Crick, whom he seems to idolize, to his struggles with religion and free will, this is an engaging mixture of personal anecdote, scientific fact and pure speculation. It is often charming: Chapter 2, for instance, is entitled, ‘In which I write about the wellsprings of my inner conflict between religion and reason, why I grew up wanting to be a scientist, why I wear a lapel pin of Professor Calculus, and how I acquired a second mentor late in life’.

Koch’s theory of consciousness is introduced ( “integrated theory of consciousness.”) and at that point,

the story seems to stumble …

File under Yet another theory of consciousness. Won’t we soon need a new conceptual warehouse for all the new theories … ?

But seriously, get this: The review is paywalled ($32). Whoever heard of paywalling a review, for heaven’s sake? We can look inside the book itself (only $16.47, half the cost of the review) on the ‘Net, from this Uncommon Descent site. But not the review.

Okay, fine. Be your own reviewer and save.

One thing: If Koch had solved any problems about consciousness, we would have heard about it by now.

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This is one of those areas that is really almost impossible for humans to objectively study. We are all subject to consciousness. We are all in the same boat. How can a researcher get outside of himself and study human consciousness from an objective position? Agreed that there is probably nothing there of value. tjguy

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