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20 books about Consciousness [sort by author]      

Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness
Donald R. Griffin
University of Chicago Press, 2001

In Animal Minds, Donald R. Griffin takes us on a guided tour of the recent explosion of scientific research on animal mentality. Are animals consciously aware of anything, or are they merely living machines, incapable of conscious thoughts or emotional feelings? How can we tell? Such questions have long fascinated Griffin, who has been a pioneer at the forefront of research in animal cognition for decades, and is recognized as one of the leading behavioral ecologists of the twentieth century.

With this new edition of his classic book, which he has completely revised and updated, Griffin moves beyond considerations of animal cognition to argue that scientists can and should investigate questions of animal consciousness. Using examples from studies of species ranging from chimpanzees and dolphins to birds and honeybees, he demonstrates how communication among animals can serve as a "window" into what animals think and feel, just as human speech and nonverbal communication tell us most of what we know about the thoughts and feelings of other people. Even when they don't communicate about it, animals respond with sometimes surprising versatility to new situations for which neither their genes nor their previous experiences have prepared them, and Griffin discusses what these behaviors can tell us about animal minds. He also reviews the latest research in cognitive neuroscience, which has revealed startling similarities in the neural mechanisms underlying brain functioning in both humans and other animals. Finally, in four chapters greatly expanded for this edition, Griffin considers the latest scientific research on animal consciousness, pro and con, and explores its profound philosophical and ethical implications.
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The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness
E. Paul Durrenberger
University Press of Colorado, 2012

Presenting prehistoric, historic, and ethnographic data from Mongolia, China, Iceland, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States, The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness offers a first step toward examining class as a central issue within anthropology. Contributors to this volume use the methods of historical materialism, cultural ecology, and political ecology to understand the realities of class and how they evolve.


Five central ideas unify the collection: the objective basis for class in different social orders; people's understanding of class in relation to race and gender; the relation of ideologies of class to realities of class; the U.S. managerial middle-class denial of class and emphasis on meritocracy in relation to increasing economic insecurity; and personal responses to economic insecurity and their political implications.


Anthropologists who want to understand the nature and dynamics of culture must also understand the nature and dynamics of class. The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness addresses the role of the concept of class as an analytical construct in anthropology and how it relates to culture. Although issues of social hierarchy have been studied in anthropology, class has not often been considered as a central element. Yet a better understanding of its role in shaping culture, consciousness, and people's awareness of their social and natural world would in turn lead to better understanding of major trends in social evolution as well as contemporary society. This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of anthropology, labor studies, ethnohistory, and sociology.

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Harvard University Press, 1999

Consciousness and the Acquisition of Language
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Northwestern University Press, 1979

The tools, concepts, and vocabulary of phenomenology are used in this book to explore language in a multitude of contexts.
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The Consciousness of the Litigator
Duffy Graham
University of Michigan Press, 2005

"An important and thought-provoking addition to the literature on the ethics of lawyers."
---Kimberly Kirkland, Franklin Pierce Law Center

The Consciousness of the Litigator investigates the role of the lawyer in modern American political and social life and in the judicial process, and plumbs lawyers' perceptions of themselves, their work, and, especially, their sense of right and wrong.

In so doing, the book sheds light on the unique and little-examined subject of the moral mind of the litigator, whose work extends to all corners of society and whose primary expertise---making legal arguments---is the fundamental skill of all lawyers.

The Consciousness of the Litigator stands with Michael Kelly's Lives of Lawyers as a must-read for the many law students, scholars, and practicing litigators who struggle to balance ethical questions with the dictates of their highly commercialized profession.
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Consequences of Consciousness: Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy
Donna Tussing Orwin
Stanford University Press, 2007

Russian psychological prose has made a distinct contribution to world culture—not only to literature, but also to practical psychology and even to neuropsychology. Consequences of Consciousness focuses primarily on Russian ideas of the self and subjectivity, and how these ideas find expression in the fiction of Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy—the most important founding authors of the Russian school of psychological realism. These writers explore both the limits and the autonomy of subjective consciousness, and their books are as relevant today as they have ever been. Through close analysis of many well-known texts, Orwin reveals that these three authors conversed with each other through their works. She emphasizes the role Western thought played in the development of their psychological prose and how it was transformed by a Russian context.

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Damasio's Error and Descartes' Truth: An Inquiry into Consciousness, Metaphysics, and Epistemology
Andrew Gluck
University of Scranton Press, 2007

The question of the relationship between mind and body as posed by Descartes, Spinoza, and others remains a fundamental debate for philosophers. In Damasio’s Error and Descartes’ Truth, Andrew Gluck constructs a pluralistic response to the work of neurologist Antonio Damasio. Gluck critiques the neutral monistic assertions found in Descartes’ Error and Looking for Spinoza from a philosophical perspective, advocating an adaptive theory—physical monism in the natural sciences, dualism in the social sciences, and neutral monism in aesthetics. Gluck’s work is a significant and refreshing take on a historical debate.
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Darwin's Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noösphere
Richard M. Doyle
University of Washington Press, 2011

This book inquires into the swarm of ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions provoked by psychedelic experience in the context of global ecological crisis. Richard M. Doyle is professor of English and science, technology, and society at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of On Beyond Living and Wetwares.
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Discourse, Consciousness, and Time: The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing
Wallace Chafe
University of Chicago Press, 1994

Wallace Chafe demonstrates how the study of language and consciousness together can provide an unexpectedly broad understanding of the way the mind works. Relying on close analyses of conversational speech as well as written fiction and nonfiction, he investigates both the flow of ideas through consciousness and the displacement of consciousness by way of memory and imagination.

Chafe draws on several decades of research to demonstrate that understanding the nature of consciousness is essential to understanding many linguistic phenomena, such as pronouns, tense, clause structure, and intonation, as well as stylistic usages, such as the historical present and the free indirect style. While the book focuses on English, there are also discussions of the North American Indian language Seneca and the music of Mozart and of the Seneca people.

This work offers a comprehensive picture of the dynamic natures of language and consciousness that will interest linguists, psychologists, literary scholars, computer scientists, anthropologists, and philosophers.
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Fighting for Life: Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness
by Walter J. Ong
Cornell University Press, 1981

"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly

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From Darkness To Light: Class, Consciousness, & Salvation In Revolutionary
Igal Halfin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000

In this interdisciplinary and controversial work, Igal Halfin takes an original and provocative stance on Marxist theory, and attempts to break down the divisions between history, philosophy, and literary theory.
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The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation
Beatrice Bruteau
University of Notre Dame Press, 2001

Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: A Commentary Based on the Preface and Introduction
Werner Marx
University of Chicago Press, 1988

Hegel's classic Phenomenology of Spirit is considered by many to be the most difficult text in all of philosophical literature. In interpreting the work, scholars have often used the Phenomenology to justify the ideology that has tempered their approach to it, whether existential, ontological, or, particularly, Marxist. Werner Marx deftly avoids this trap of misinterpretation by rendering lucid the objectives that Hegel delineates in the Preface and Introduction and using these to examine the whole of the Phenomenology. Marx considers selected materials from Hegel's text in order both to clarify Hegel's own view of it and to set the stage for an examination of post-Hegelian philosophy.

The primary focus of Marx's book is on the account. Hegel gives of the phenomenological journey from natural consciousness to philosophical wisdom (or absolute knowledge, as Hegel calls it). In showing that Hegel's many statements concerning consciousness 'finding itself' or 'knowing itself' in its world can be understood as discovering the rationality of the conditioning world, Marx offers a solution to several sets of interrelated problems that have troubled students of Hegel. His book contains valuable analyses of the relation between Hegel's thought and that of Descartes and Kant as well as that of Karl Marx, and it also sheds considerable light on the question of the internal unity or coherence of the Phenomenology.
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The Hidden Levels of the Mind: Swedenborg's Theory of Consciousness
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2011

At the core of Swedenborg’s thought is the understanding that our purpose in this life is to progress spiritually—to learn, to grow, to do good works, and, ultimately, to allow as much of God’s love as possible to enter into us and manifest through us.

Scattered throughout his works are descriptions of our mind and how it relates to both the physical and spiritual worlds. In this book, Taylor pulls these loose threads together and weaves them into a simple, coherent whole, presenting Swedenborg’s teachings as a system that anyone can follow. Taylor describes the external or natural mind as primarily concerned with material things, and the inner mind, in its essence, as love. As we elevate our thoughts toward higher and higher types of love and wisdom, we draw closer to God and begin the process of regeneration, or rebirth as spiritual beings.

This is the first time in many decades that a book has been published on Swedenborg’s philosophy of the mind. Taylor’s straightforward commentary gives readers a rare insight into this crucial aspect of Swedenborg’s theology.

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Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture
by Walter J. Ong
Cornell University Press, 1977

In Interfaces of the World, Walter J. Ong explores the effects on consciousness of the word as it moves through oral to written to print and electronic culture.

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Lonergan and the Philosophy of Historical Existence
Thomas J. McPartland
University of Missouri Press, 2001

Bernard Lonergan's ambitious study of human knowledge, based on his theory of consciousness, is among the major achievements of twentieth-century philosophy. He challenges the principles of contemporary intellectual culture by finding norms and standards not in external perceptions or reified concepts, but in the dynamism of consciousness itself.

Lonergan and the Philosophy of Historical Existence explores the implications of Lonergan's approach to the philosophy of history in a number of distinct but related contexts, covering a variety of intellectual disciplines. Each chapter can be read independently, but the series of chapters provides a coherent unfolding of Lonergan's case that the norms of inquiry endure as a standard of human thought and action amid continuous changes and fluctuations in politics, morals, religion, science, and scholarship. The book explains how Lonergan's idea of development follows from his theory of consciousness and how his treatment of human development inevitably focuses on historical development. The central theme of the book is that Lonergan's philosophy of history makes a pronounced distinction between historicity and historicism.

McPartland relates Lonergan's work to existentialist themes and, in the last chapters, to the work of Eric Voegelin. The book addresses the existentialist themes of dread, suffering, guilt, shame, and resentiment—within overall themes of history, philosophy, and religion. McPartland argues that Lonergan's unique perspective on scientific method, epistemology, metaphysics, and critical theory can illuminate what seem to be the quite alien topics of reason as religious experience, the anxiety of existence, the existential roots of bias, and mythopoesis and mystery. Here there is a remarkable parallel to the philosophy of history of Eric Voegelin. The concluding chapters of the book show how the equivalence of the two philosophies offers a mutually enriching dialogue between Lonergan's critical realism and Voegelin's existential exegesis.

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Benjamin LIBET
Harvard University Press, 2004

Our subjective inner life is what really matters to us as human beings--and yet we know relatively little about how it arises. Over a long and distinguished career Benjamin Libet has conducted experiments that have helped us see, in clear and concrete ways, how the brain produces conscious awareness. For the first time, Libet gives his own account of these experiments and their importance for our understanding of consciousness.

Most notably, Libet's experiments reveal a substantial delay--the "mind time" of the title--before any awareness affects how we view our mental activities. If all conscious awarenesses are preceded by unconscious processes, as Libet observes, we are forced to conclude that unconscious processes initiate our conscious experiences. Freely voluntary acts are found to be initiated unconsciously before an awareness of wanting to act--a discovery with profound ramifications for our understanding of free will.

How do the physical activities of billions of cerebral nerve cells give rise to an integrated conscious subjective awareness? How can the subjective mind affect or control voluntary actions? Libet considers these questions, as well as the implications of his discoveries for the nature of the soul, the identity of the person, and the relation of the non-physical subjective mind to the physical brain that produces it. Rendered in clear, accessible language, Libet's experiments and theories will allow interested amateurs and experts alike to share the experience of the extraordinary discoveries made in the practical study of consciousness.

Table of Contents:


1. Introduction to the Question
2. The Delay in Our Conscious Sensory Awareness
3. Unconscious and Conscious Mental Functions
4. Intention to Act: Do We Have Free Will?
5. Conscious Mental Field Theory: Explaining How the Mental Arises from the Physical
6. What Does It All Mean?


Reviews of this book:
Libet only dared switch to the study of consciousness after he got tenure. It is fortunate for us that he did, and that he has presented us here with what amounts to a retrospective exhibition of his work...The refreshing result is that we are immediately engaged in an earnest one-to-one tutorial with [him]...In [his] work, philosophers have found grist for what they do best. Indeed, his experiments...must rank as one of the major contributions of experimental psychology to modern philosophy of mind...[W]hether or not one agrees with his thesis or not, one must acknowledge that his pioneering experimental work has certainly been stimulating.
--Kevan Martin, Nature

Reviews of this book:
What makes Benjamin Libet different from all the others writing on [consciousness] that he has actually spent the past 40 years experimenting on the topic. His findings have played a central role in others' speculations. Now he has put his life's work into a single short book.
--Steven Rose, New Scientist [UK]

Mind Time makes for extremely interesting, engaging reading. Its discussions of consciousness, subjectivity, free will, and perception will intrigue anybody in philosophy or psychology interested in those topics. This is a valuable book to have available.
--David Rosenthal, Philosophy and Cognitive Science Graduate Center, City University of New York

Benjamin Libet's discoveries are of extraordinary interest. His is almost the only approach yet to yield any credible evidence of how conscious awareness is produced by the brain. Mind Time endeavors to clarify these startling observations for the general public, set them in proper framework of neuroscientific knowledge, and probe their philosophical meaning. Libet's work is unique, and speaks to questions asked by all humankind.
--Robert W. Doty, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester

This book is strikingly different from most of the other books on consciousness in one key respect: it focuses on empirical discoveries, not speculation or argument.
--From the Foreword by Stephen Kosslyn
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Saying I No More: Subjectivity and Consciousness in the Prose of Samuel Beckett
Daniel Katz
Northwestern University Press, 1999

In recent criticism, Samuel Beckett's prose has been increasingly described as a labor of refusal: not only of what traditionally has made possible narrative and the novel but also of the major conventional suppositions concerning the primacy of consciousness, subjectivity, and expression for the artistic act. Beginning from the premise that Beckett never betrays his belief in "the impossibility to express," Saying I No More explores the Beckettian refusal. Katz posits that the expression of voicelessness in Beckett is not silence, that the negativity and negation so evident in the great writer's work are not simply affirmed, but that the valorization of abnegation, emptiness, impotence, or the "no" can all too easily become itself an affirmation of power or an inverted imposition of force.
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Harvard University Press, 2006

Who Says?: Working-Class Rhetoric, Class Consciousness, and Community
William DeGenaro
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007

In Who Says?, scholars of rhetoric, composition, and communications seek to revise the elitist “rhetorical tradition” by analyzing diverse topics such as settlement house movements and hip-hop culture to uncover how communities use discourse to construct working-class identity. The contributors examine the language of workers at a concrete pour, depictions of long-haul truckers, a comic book series published by the CIO, the transgressive “fat” bodies of Roseanne and Anna Nicole Smith, and even reality television to provide rich insights into working-class rhetorics. The chapters identify working-class tropes and discursive strategies, and connect working-class identity to issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Using a variety of approaches including ethnography, research in historic archives, and analysis of case studies, Who Says? assembles an original and comprehensive collection that is accessible to both students and scholars of class studies and rhetoric.
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