From the publisher’s copy for The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M.Wegner and Kurt Gray
The Mind Club explains why we love some animals and eat others, why people debate the existence of God so intensely, how good people can be so cruel, and why robots make such poor lovers. By investigating the mind perception of extraordinary targets–animals, machines, comatose people, god–Wegner and Gray explain what it means to have a mind, and why it matters so much. Fusing cutting-edge research and personal anecdotes, The Mind Club explores the moral dimensions of mind perception with wit and compassion, revealing the surprisingly simple basis for what compels us to love and hate, to harm and to protect. More.
A “simple basis”? Without realizing it, the publisher has signalled that this is yet another table propper for the cottage kitchen.
Yes, there is still a market out there for “It’s all really simple, see?! Our gimcrack theory… ”
But that market is no longer where the action is.
At Kirkus Reviews, we learn,
The authors’ approach to understanding the minds of others—whether those minds are those of people we consider enemies or people who for whatever reason cannot express themselves—is a touch softer than the hard-core neuroscience of, say, Antonio Damasio. Still, they look at some very tough questions: how do we sort our thoughts about the minds of others in such a way that we can rationalize torture? (The answer hinges on levels of empathy.) What kind of mind does God have, if God exists? (A provocative hint: “God is perceived as being very high in agency but relatively low in experience.”) And so forth, all leading to the wise if unsettling thought that “our perceptions are all we have.”
God is “very high in agency” but “low in experience”? The authors clearly haven’t heard of a globally prominent religion whose sacred scriptures’ main claim is that God became a man:
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, …
Now, one should not judge a book by its cover or its reviews, but there is so much of this sort of thing out there (= sound Cool while failing to grapple with facts), that one would recommend to those working with a limited budget, Gelernter’s Tides of Consciousness instead.
See also: An image of consciousness: the ebb and flow of tides
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
Animal minds: In search of the minimal self