Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness

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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 25 Oct 2022


A concise, elegant, and thought-provoking exploration of the mystery of consciousness and the functioning of the brain.

Despite decades of research, remarkable imagery, and insights from a range of scientific and medical disciplines, the human brain remains largely unexplored. Consciousness has eluded explanation.

Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness offers a brilliant overview of the state of modern consciousness research in twenty brief, revealing chapters. Neuroscientist and author Patrick House describes complex concepts in accessible terms, weaving brain science, technology, gaming, analogy, and philosophy into a tapestry that illuminates how the brain works and what enables consciousness. This remarkable book fosters a sense of mystery and wonder about the strangeness of the relationship between our inner selves and our environment.

A concise, elegant, and thought-provoking exploration of the mystery of consciousness and the functioning of the brain.

Despite decades of research, remarkable imagery, and insights from a range of...

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ISBN 9781250151179
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Featured Reviews

Fascinating reflections on consciousness from a variety of perspectives. Definitely a source of many a-ha moments and provocative questions in my consciousness.

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<b>The Median Price of a Thrift-Store Bin of Evolutionary Hacks Russian-Dolled into a Watery, Salty Piñata We Call A Head</b>

If that chapter title alone doesn’t intrigue you, you probably shouldn’t bother with this book. And if you’re looking for a detailed scientific exploration of how the brain works, read Sapolsky’s [book:Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst|31170723] instead. But if you’re looking for unusual, thought-provoking, almost poetical musings about what consciousness is, then this is definitely the book for you.

House takes a unique approach to his topic, inspired by a book of translations of a Chinese poem. (Many very different translations, each capturing a different part of the essence of the original.)

He takes one single phenomenon - the ability to make someone laugh by stimulating specific parts of their brain - and then looks at what’s going on in nineteen different ways, presenting different theories of consciousness. The result is not a coherent, homogenous explanation of consciousness. On the contrary, it’s messy, sometimes contradictory, and occasionally confusing. But that’s what makes this book so illuminating. The truth is, we don’t really know how the brain works, how we think, or what consciousness is. We have a lot of ideas which are partially right (to the best of our knowledge, but they will almost certainly be proved wrong at some point), but we don’t actually have any definitive answers.

House makes us think about these different perspectives on consciousness. What’s the difference between human thought and AI? What can human brains teach us about AI, and what can AI teach us about human brains? What’s biological in origin, what’s electrical, and what’s social? What do we mean by self? Or reality, come to that? These are all valid discussions, sometimes covering the same ground, but often offering unique insights into who we are as individuals and as a species.

It's a fairly quick, easy read. It's not too heavy on the science, and it's written with humor. I'd recommend reading a chapter a day, then putting it aside to consider how to assimilate that with everything that's gone before.

<i>I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.</i>

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Entertaining and accessible. A recommended purchase for collection where psychology and pop science books are popular.

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I gained a lot of insight from this book on the working of the mind.
I highly recommend reading this book.

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