The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture collects essays and lectures by Georges Bataille spanning 30 years of research in anthropology, comparative religion, aesthetics, and philosophy. These were neither idle nor idyllic years; the discovery of Lascaux in 1940 coincides with the bloodiest war in history—with new machines of death, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. Bataille's reflections on the possible origins of humanity coincide with the intensified threat of its possible extinction.
In Onflow, Ralph Pred supplies an account of the nature of consciousness that grapples with "the raw unverbalized stream of experience." Unlike other recent philosophical accounts of consciousness, Pred's analysis deals with the elusive and commonly neglected continuities in the stream of consciousness. Pred offers a general characterization and analysis of experience as well as a highly detailed interpretation of experience from within.
In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explained was published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories—"so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of his theory of consciousness, taking into account major empirical advances in the field since 1991 as well as recent theoretical challenges.
Cognitive science approaches the study of mind and intelligence from an interdisciplinary perspective, working at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. With Mind, Paul Thagard offers an introduction to this interdisciplinary field for readers who come to the subject with very different backgrounds. It is suitable for classroom use by students with interests ranging from computer science and engineering to psychology and philosophy.
In Frank Jackson's famous thought experiment, Mary is confined to a black-and-white room and educated through black-and-white books and lectures on a black-and-white television. In this way, she learns everything there is to know about the physical world. If physicalism—the doctrine that everything is physical—is true, then Mary seems to know all there is to know. What happens, then, when she emerges from her black-and-white room and sees the color red for the first time?
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.
How did the human brain evolve so that consciousness of art could develop? In The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain, Robert Solso describes how a consciousness that evolved for other purposes perceives and creates art.
In What Is Thought? Eric Baum proposes a computational explanation of thought. Just as Erwin Schrodinger in his classic 1944 work What Is Life? argued ten years before the discovery of DNA that life must be explainable at a fundamental level by physics and chemistry, Baum contends that the present-day inability of computer science to explain thought and meaning is no reason to doubt there can be such an explanation.
In Consciousness and Persons: Unity and Identity, Michael Tye takes on the thorny issue of the unity of consciousness and answers these important questions: What exactly is the unity of consciousness? Can a single person have a divided consciousness? What is a single person? Tye argues that unity is a fundamental part of human consciousness—something so basic to everyday experience that it is easy to overlook.
Mental reflexivity, or metamentation—a mind thinking about its own thoughts—underpins reflexive consciousness, deliberation, self-evaluation, moral judgment, the ability to think ahead, and much more. Yet relatively little in philosophy or psychology has been written about what metamentation actually is, or about why and how it came about. In this book, Radu Bogdan proposes that humans think reflexively because they interpret each other's minds in social contexts of cooperation, communication, education, politics, and so forth.