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Perplexities of Consciousness

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  42 Ratings  ·  7 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 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
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
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.
Assaf Weksler
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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?
Josh Trapani
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
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
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Schwitzgebel is an excellent writer, and here he reports many reasons to doubt our reports of what we consciously experience. Important for consciousness researchers. Includes empirical studies he did himself.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very interesting exploration of the limits of introspection. I liked his writing style a lot.
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