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Ned Block

Ned Block is Silver Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at New York University and was Chair of the Philosophy Program at MIT from 1990 to 1995. He is a coeditor of The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates (MIT Press, 1997).

Titles by This Author

Collected Papers

This volume of Ned Block's writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism. A number of these papers treat the significance of the multiple realizability of mental states for the mind-body problem—a theme that has concerned Block since the 1960s. One paper on this topic considers the upshot for the mind-body problem of the possibility of a robot that is functionally like us but physically different—as is Commander Data of Star Trek's second generation. The papers on consciousness treat such conceptual issues as phenomenal versus access consciousness, Dennett's theory of consciousness, and the function of consciousness, as well as such empirical matters as "How Not to Find the Neural Correlate of Consciousness," and (in an expanded version of a paper originally in Trends in Cognitive Sciences) an argument that there are distinct neural correlates for access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. Turning to the mind-body problem, Block defends physicalism against Max Black's argument concerning phenomenal modes of presentation. The papers on representationism consider "mental paint" as well as the "Inverted Earth" thought experiment—a world in which colors are reversed but there is a compensating reversal in the words that are used to describe them.

Consciousness, Function, and Representation, bringing together papers that have appeared primarily in journals and conference proceedings, can be regarded as Block's most complete statement of his positions on consciousness.

Titles by This Editor

Philosophical Debates

Intended for anyone attempting to find their way through the large and confusingly interwoven philosophical literature on consciousness, this reader brings together most of the principal texts in philosophy (and a small set of related key works in neuropsychology) on consciousness through 1997, and includes some forthcoming articles. Its extensive coverage strikes a balance between seminal works of the past few decades and the leading edge of philosophical research on consciousness.

As no other anthology currently does, The Nature of Consciousness provides a substantial introduction to the field, and imposes structure on a vast and complicated literature, with sections covering stream of consciousness, theoretical issues, consciousness and representation, the function of consciousness, subjectivity and the explanatory gap, the knowledge argument, qualia, and monitoring conceptions of consciousness. Of the 49 contributions, 18 are either new or have been adapted from a previous publication.

Edited by Ned Block

The "great debate" in cognitive science today is about the nature of mental images. One side says images are basically pictures in the head. The other side says they are like the symbol structures in computers. If the picture-in-the-head theorists are right, then computers will never be able to think like people.

This book contains the most intelligible and incisive articles in the debate, articles by cognitive psychologists, computer scientists and philosophers. The most exciting imagery phenomena are described, phenomena that indicate that mental images can be rotated and scanned, that smaller images are harder to see than larger ones, that when mental images are made larger they eventually overflow, that the "screen" they overflow from has a determinable shape (elliptical), and that this "screen" subtends a determinate visual angle, the angle of vision of the mind's eye.

Such experiments cry out for explanation. If images are pictures in the head, who (or what) looks at them? Why haven't brain scientists found them? Such questions are the subject of the great debate.

IMAGERY is an excellent choice for courses in cognitive psychology, perception: artificial intelligence, computer science; philosophy of mind, of psychology and of science; minds and machines, science and society.

Contributors include: Roger Brown and Richard Herrnstein (on the work of Roger N. Shepard), Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, Robert Schwartz, Stephen Kosslyn, Steven Pinker, George Smith, Steven Shwartz, and Zenon Pylyshyn.