Harold Langsam

Harold Langsam is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia.

  • The Wonder of Consciousness

    The Wonder of Consciousness

    Understanding the Mind through Philosophical Reflection

    Harold Langsam

    An argument that what makes consciousness wonderful is its intelligibility.

    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.

    Langsam first examines the way certain features of some of our conscious states intelligibly relate us to features of the world of which we are conscious. Consciousness is radically different from everything else in the world, and yet it brings us into intimate connection with the things of the world. Langsam then examines the causal powers of some of our conscious states. Some of these causal powers are determined in an intelligible way by the categorical natures of their conscious states: if you know what consciousness is, then you can also know (by the mere exercise of your intelligence) some of what consciousness does.

    Langsam's intent is to get the philosophy of mind away from the endless and distracting debates about whether consciousness is physical or not. He shows that there are substantive things that we can discover about consciousness merely through philosophical reflection. The philosopher who takes this approach is not ignoring the empirical facts; he is reflecting on these facts to discover further, nonempirical facts.

    • Hardcover $19.75 £14.99


  • Disjunctivism


    Contemporary Readings

    Alex Byrne and Heather Logue

    Classic texts that define the disjunctivist theory of perception.

    A central debate in contemporary philosophy of perception concerns the disjunctive theory of perceptual experience. Until the 1960s, philosophers of perception generally assumed that a veridical perception (a perceptual experience that presents the world as it really is) and a subjectively similar hallucination must have significant mental commonalities. Disjunctivists challenge this assumption, contending that the veridical perception and the corresponding hallucination share no mental core. Suppose that while you are looking at a lemon, God suddenly removes it, while keeping your brain activity constant. Although you notice no change, disjunctivists argue that the preremoval and postremoval experiences are radically different. Disjunctivism has gained prominent supporters in recent years, as well as attracting much criticism. This reader collects for the first time in one volume classic texts that define and react to disjunctivism. These include an excerpt from a book by the late J. M. Hinton, who was the first to propose an explicitly disjunctivist position, and papers stating a number of important objections.

    Contributors Alex Byrne, Jonathan Dancy, J. M. Hinton, Mark Johnston, Harold Langsam, Heather Logue, M. G. F. Martin, John McDowell, Alan Millar, Howard Robinson, A. D. Smith, Paul Snowdon

    • Hardcover $15.75 £12.99
    • Paperback $19.75 £14.99