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Perplexities of Consciousness

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  30 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Western philosophical tradition in nearly unanimous on the accuracy of our knowledge or current conscious experience. Schwitzgebel is skeptical. Drawing from historical and recent philosophy and psychology, this book examines such topics as visual perspective, human echolocation, and more.
Hardcover, 225 pages
Published January 28th 2011 by MIT Press (MA)
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Nov 29, 2011 Nat added it
Schwitzgebel overturns the Cartesian idea that we have better epistemic access to the contents of our own minds than we do to the external world with an entertaining variety of skeptical arguments. He convincingly demonstrates that there is reason to be skeptical about how well we know all of the following mental phenomena:

-whether we dream in color or in black and white, or neither;
-whether round objects look round or look elliptical when viewed from an oblique angle;
-the nature of our own m
Petr Špecián
Excelent. An amuzing and illuminating book for those who have doubts about the reliability of phenomenological descriptions and especially for those who don't. If you don't have much time, read just Chapter 7 that sums up the basic arguments nicely.
This book should be subtitled "Thinking yourself into a box in 8 easy chapters".
It's not that I didn't enjoy it; this book tends rather towards the repetitive and while one chapter about how difficult it is to accurately and reliably describe our own introspective experience (what does the world look like to us? Do we dream in color? Do we notice what we perceive when we're not paying attention to it?) is fascinating, eight begin to feel like the author is running around asking :How do we brain?
Assaf Weksler
Writing style is great: lively, informally and personal. The author uses empirical methods in a convincing way (usually I'm skeptical about the prospects of empirical methods in philosophy). He is trying - and I think succeeding - in being a "Hume of introspection", in making us feel very uncertain about introspection, plus he feels despair at the end. The book contains a lot of discussions about phenomenal character, which are illuminating regardless of their skeptical conclusion. Lastly, the a ...more
Josh Trapani
It really takes a lot for me to read about a subject - any subject, no matter how esoteric - and think to myself: who gives a rat's ass? But this book accomplished that. The larger and fascinating question of how much (or little) we truly understand our own conscious experience remains, but the minutiae addressed here have to be extrapolated well beyond the scope of this book to be of general interest. I think my real frustration: it was worth being exposed to this, but a 10-page paper could hav ...more
Very interesting exploration of the limits of introspection. I liked his writing style a lot.
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Perplexities of Consciousness (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology) The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2015 Describing Inner Experience?: Proponent Meets Skeptic Describing Inner Experience?: Proponent Meets Skeptic Describing Inner Experience?: Proponent Meets Skeptic

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