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Paperback | $17.95 Trade | £12.95 | ISBN: 9780262621939 | 357 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 14 illus.| August 2004
 

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Essential Info

Radiant Cool

A Novel Theory of Consciousness

Overview

Professor Grue is dead (or is he?). When graduate student/sleuth Miranda Sharpe discovers him slumped over his keyboard, she does the sensible thing—she grabs her dissertation and runs. Little does she suspect that soon she will be probing the heart of two mysteries, trying to discover what happened to Max Grue, and trying to solve the profound neurophilosophical problem of consciousness. Radiant Cool may be the first novel of ideas that actually breaks new theoretical ground, as Dan Lloyd uses a neo-noir (neuro-noir?), hard-boiled framework to propose a new theory of consciousness.

In the course of her sleuthing, Miranda encounters characters who share her urgency to get to the bottom of the mystery of consciousness, although not always with the most innocent motives. Who holds the key to Max Grue's ultimate vision? Is it the computer-inspired pop psychologist talk-show host? The video-gaming geek with a passion for artificial neural networks? The Russian multi-dimensional data detective, or the sophisticated neuroscientist with the big book contract? Ultimately Miranda teams up with the author's fictional alter ego, "Dan Lloyd," and together they build on the phenomenological theories of philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) to construct testable hypotheses about the implementation of consciousness in the brain. Will the clues of phenomenology and neuroscience converge in time to avert a catastrophe? (The dramatic ending cannot be revealed here.) Outside the fictional world of the novel, Dan Lloyd (the author) appends a lengthy afterword, explaining the proposed theory of consciousness in more scholarly form.

Radiant Cool is a real metaphysical thriller—based in current philosophy of mind—and a genuine scientific detective story—revealing a new interpretation of functional brain imaging. With its ingenious plot and its novel theory, Radiant Cool will be enjoyed in the classroom and the study for its entertaining presentation of phenomenology, neural networks, and brain imaging; but, most importantly, it will find its place as a groundbreaking theory of consciousness.

About the Author

Dan Lloyd is Thomas C. Brownell Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College and the author of Simple Minds and Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness, both published by the MIT Press

Reviews

"...[A] book that is both a gripping story and an intellectual challenge.", Susan Blackmore, NewScientist

"...A fine read for anyone interested in consciousness studies as well as fictionalized science.", Jaak Panksepp, JAMA

"A deft and engrossing noir mystery.", Daniel C. Dennett, TLS

"As Lloyd's final pages make clear, consciousness may in principle by partly opaque.", George Scialabba, Boston Sunday Globe

"Other writers, including Umberto Eco, have used literature to illuminate science. Lloyd...[has] done it the other way round.", Walter Ellis, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Radiant Cool has the makings of a gripping noir thriller, but the novel is also a serious work of scholarship.", Emily Eakin, New York Times

"...A fine read for anyone interested in consciousness studies as well as fictionalized science." Jaak Panksepp JAMA

"...[A] book that is both a gripping story and an intellectual challenge." Susan Blackmore NewScientist

"As Lloyd's final pages make clear, consciousness may in principle by partly opaque." George Scialabba Boston Sunday Globe

"Other writers, including Umberto Eco, have used literature to illuminate science. Lloyd...[has] done it the other way round." Walter Ellis Times Higher Education Supplement

Endorsements

"Dan Lloyd has written a witty and ingenious fable about the puzzles and paradoxes of the phenomenon of consciousness, with an illuminating nonfictional appendix expounding his own take on the subject. He manages to be both entertaining and instructive about a complex subject."
David Lodge, author of Thinks...

"Somehow the brain must be the mind—your brain must be your mind. How can we get to a vantage point from which we can understand this? The steady march of neuroscience, or the mincing crabwalk of academic philosophy, will take you only a few steps. Dan Lloyd has found a delicious way of seducing our imaginations into brand new places, the places we have all been trying to reach: try mind dancing, in this new genre, the neuroscience novel of consciousness."
Daniel Dennett, author of Brainchildren, Conciousness Explained, and Freedom Evolves.

"Dan Lloyd may not have solved the mystery of consciousness, but he has done something nearly as difficult: he has turned the quest for that solution into a page-turner. Ecstatically playful, Radiant Cool breaks new ground in the genre of philosophical fiction."Rebecca Goldstein, author of The Mind-Body Problem