By adulthood, most of us have become experts in human behavior, able to make sense of the myriad behaviors we find in environments ranging from the family home to the local mall and beyond. In philosophy of mind, our understanding of others has been largely explained in terms of knowing others’ beliefs and desires; describing others’ behavior in these terms is the core of what is known as folk psychology.
We form individual memories by a process known as consolidation: the conversion of immediate and fleeting bits of information into a stable and accessible representation of facts and events. These memories provide a version of the past that helps us navigate the present and is critical to individual identity. In this book, Thomas Anastasio, Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, Patrick Watson, and Wenyi Zhang propose that social groups form collective memories by analogous processes.
Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance.
Episodic memory proves essential for daily function, allowing us to remember where we parked the car, what time we walked the dog, or what a friend said earlier. In How We Remember, Michael Hasselmo draws on recent developments in neuroscience to present a new model describing the brain mechanisms for encoding and remembering such episodes as spatiotemporal trajectories.
When neurology researcher James Austin began Zen training, he found that his medical education was inadequate. During the past three decades, he has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. Now, in Selfless Insight, Austin arrives at a fresh synthesis, one that invokes the latest brain research to explain the basis for meditative states and clarifies what Zen awakening implies for our understanding of consciousness.
Dreams have attracted the curiosity of humankind for millennia. In A Dream Interpreted Within a Dream, Elliot Wolfson guides the reader through contemporary philosophical and scientific models to the archaic wisdom that the dream state and waking reality are on an equal phenomenal footing--that the phenomenal world is the dream from which one must awaken by waking to the dream that one is merely dreaming that one is awake. By interpreting the dream within the dream, one ascertains the wakeful character of the dream and the dreamful character of wakefulness.
Consciousness is a wonderful thing. But if we are fully to appreciate the wonder of consciousness, we need to articulate what it is about consciousness that makes it such an interesting and important phenomenon to us. In this book, Harold Langsam argues that consciousness is intelligible--that there are substantive facts about consciousness that can be known a priori--and that it is the intelligibility of consciousness that is the source of its wonder.
In Our Own Minds, Radu Bogdan takes a developmental perspective on consciousness—its functional design in particular—and proposes that children's functional capacity for consciousness is assembled during development out of a variety of ontogenetic adaptations that respond mostly to sociocultural challenges specific to distinct stages of childhood.
The concepts of time and identity seem at once unproblematic and frustratingly difficult. Time is an intricate part of our experience—it would seem that the passage of time is a prerequisite for having any experience at all—and yet recalcitrant questions about time remain. Is time real? Does time flow? Do past and future moments exist? Philosophers face similarly stubborn questions about identity, particularly about the persistence of identical entities through change.
In Mental Reality, Galen Strawson argues that much contemporary philosophy of mind gives undue primacy of place to publicly observable phenomena, nonmental phenomena, and behavioral phenomena (understood as publicly observable phenomena) in its account of the nature of mind. It does so at the expense of the phenomena of conscious experience. Strawson describes an alternative position, "naturalized Cartesianism," which couples the materialist view that mind is entirely natural and wholly physical with a fully realist account of the nature of conscious experience.