The Crucible of Consciousness
We are material beings in a material world, but we are also beings who have experiences and feelings. How can these subjective states be just a matter of matter? Philosophical materialists have formulated what is sometimes called “the phenomenal concept strategy” (which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences) to defend materialism. In Consciousness Revisited, philosopher Michael Tye, until now a proponent of the approach, argues that the phenomenal concept strategy is mistaken. A rejection of phenomenal concepts leaves the materialist with the task of finding some other strategy for defending materialism. Tye points to four major puzzles of consciousness that arise: How is it possible for Mary, in the famous thought experiment, to make a discovery when she leaves her black-and-white room? In what does the explanatory gap consist and how can it be bridged? How can the hard problem of consciousness be solved? How are zombies possible? Tye presents solutions to these puzzles--solutions that relieve the pressure on the materialist created by the failure of the phenomenal concept strategy. In doing so, he discusses and makes new proposals on a wide range of issues, including the nature of perceptual content, the conditions necessary for consciousness of a given object, the proper understanding of change blindness, the nature of phenomenal character and our awareness of it, whether we have privileged access to our own experiences, and, if we do, in what such access consists.
About the Author
The late Zoltan Torey was a clinical psychologist and independent scholar and the author of The Crucible of Consciousness: An Integrated Theory of Mind and Brain (MIT Press).
“The world view of the blind and that of the sighted is likely different, shaped by the distinct perceptual experience and the brain plasticity involved in adaptation to the loss of sight. Zoltan Torey is blind. I cannot but believe that this fact has endowed him with the needed vision to address the complex relation between brain and mind. Zoltan Torey writes with the needed eloquence, freshness, and originality that assures readers will be moved to think, and will understand not only what is being said, but also gain new insights about themselves and others.”-Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center"—
“Torey’s way of putting things sheds new light on just what is going on in the ‘computational’ brain, since he has to find alternative metaphors to stand in for the now somewhat overworked comparison with computers. Just as poets often find that the constraints of rhyme and meter force them to discover strikingly apt expressions of their thoughts, it turns out that couching a computational theory of the mind in resolutely noncomputational terms pays dividends. There is much to repay readers in this book: to the uninitiated, it is a graceful and wise introduction to many of the central problems and arguments; to the veterans, it is a quite bountiful source of arrestingly different slants on familiar topics.”--Daniel C. Dennett, Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University and author of Sweet Dreams"—Daniel C. Dennet