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Hardcover | Out of Print | 248 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 3 color photos, 2 b&w photos, 16 figures | December 2008 | ISBN: 9780262012737
Paperback | $25.00 Short | £19.95 | 248 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 3 color photos, 2 b&w photos, 16 figures | August 2011 | ISBN: 9780262516631
eBook | $18.00 Short | August 2011 | ISBN: 9780262257626
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Consciousness Revisited

Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts


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? To defend materialism, 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. In Consciousness Revisited, the philosopher Michael Tye, until now a proponent of the the phenomenal-concept strategy, argues that the 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

Michael Tye is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995), Consciousness, Color, and Content (2000), and Consciousness and Persons (2003), all published by the MIT Press.


“[An] impressive contribution to the study of consciousness…I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the study of consciousness and perception.”—Yaron Senderowicz, Pragmatics and Cognition


“In opposing dualism, and defending the view that mind is a form of matter, modern materialists often substitute a dualism of their own—a dualism of concepts rather than properties. Tye has been a leading advocate of this materialist strategy, in his classic Consciousness, Color, and Content and elsewhere. Consciousness Revisited marks a radical intellectual break: Tye offers powerful arguments against his previous position, and a new way to defend materialism, leaning on Bertrand Russell’s notion of knowledge by acquaintance. This book is terrific—the many admirers of the early Tye may be reassured that the later Tye is just as good.”
Alex Byrne, Department of Philosophy, MIT and co-author of Disjunctivism
“This marvelously informed, powerfully argued book is Michael Tye's latest contribution to the task of finding a naturalistic understanding of consciousness. It is an agenda setter.”
Frank Jackson, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University