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Editor reviews

An ideal starting point for those interested in learning more about human consciousness, accomplished British author Susan Blackmore provides a cohesive, astutely written primer that addresses the neurological, psychological, and philosophical issues surrounding the increasingly popular and sometimes unclassifiable area of study, including, but not limited to, explorations of free will, self-awareness, obscure medical conditions, and drug-induced hallucinations.

Tamara Marston’s pleasant, energetic tone elevates Blackmore’s already accessible prose, making for an illuminating and informative listen.

Summary

"The last great mystery for science," consciousness has become a controversial topic.

Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction challenges listeners to reconsider key concepts such as personality, free will, and the soul. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? Exciting new developments in brain science are opening up these debates, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers.

This audiobook clarifies the potentially confusing arguments and clearly describes the major theories. Topics include vision and attention, theories of self, experiments on action and awareness, altered states of consciousness, and the effects of brain damage and drugs.

This lively, engaging, and authoritative audiobook provides a clear overview of the subject that combines the perspectives of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience - and serves as a much-needed launch pad for further exploration of this complicated and unsolved issue.

©2005 Susan Blackmore (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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Excellent

Interesting read (listen). Thought provoking & informative. Very much enjoyed and will no doubt listen to again. Recommended.

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Good but bias

it explored the questions well, gave food for for thought, but I feel was quite biased. The author was on an atheist missionary trip and did well to misrepresent the positions of some religions.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Yerkes
  • 17-05-15

Substantial, Thought-Provoking, Clear Introduction

This fascinating short book is nicely read. It introduces the most important major topics of debate and discussion in consciousness studies, a field whose many unresolved, complex questions pose an especially difficult challenge for the writer of an introductory text like this. Blackmore has a knack for framing her discussion by starting with strange aspects of consciousness that we can all identify with from our daily experience, such as our sneaking suspicion that those around us might be zombies, or wondering whether the smell of coffee is the same to me as it is to others. She provides the most important theories regarding the issues under discussion, drawing from philosophy and cognitive science, then clearly states her own conclusions regarding which theory is most convincing. The book is very well-organized, focused around the “hard problem” regarding consciousness, meaning how the material brain creates it. A common shortcoming of introductory accounts of consciousness is an over-reliance on an often-regurgitated set of case studies that many authors dutifully recite without following up on the implications. This book avoids that mistake. Blackmore is careful to make sure the reader is always aware of the larger significance of the discussion. I found the final chapter especially exciting, where she decisively refutes the intuitive delusions that (1) selfhood perseveres consistently over time, and (2) that consciousness is a stream of experience.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 21-10-16

Fascinating

Really thought-provoking. It explores the relationship between the physio-chemical functions of the brain and the phenomenon of consciousness. The author draws on research in various fields to explore questions that have traditionally been discussed by philosophers and mystics: Is there an eternal, unchangeable "me" underneath the fluctuations of my day-to-day experiences? Or is the sense that "I exist" really just an illusion? And lots of other interesting discussions. There are chapters on mental illness, perception and memory, the effects of psycho-active drugs on consciousness, and the question of free will. An interesting read for scientific-types as well as those with philosophical or spiritual orientations.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle me this:
  • 30-09-15

I'm conscious because I'm typing this sentence!

Great job ! Thanks for having the courage and concentration to write this book. I will listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 21-01-14

Who wrote this book?

This is a clearly written book that deals with complicated issues in a vivid and easy-to-understand way. It is also very clearly read. A pleasure to listen to.

The book approaches consciousness from a strictly orthodox reductive materialist viewpoint, simply writing off with little real engagement the many points of view of this subject that do not fit that orthodoxy. All other points of view of "the hard problem" etc. get tagged with the epithet, "magic."

In the end, consciousness, mind, the will, the human self, and all continuity of experience or identity are attributed to delusion -- the strictly mindless brain tricking us into thinking that we exist. Since Susan Blackmore seems to be denying her own existence, one is left wondering, who wrote the extended and rather complex argument of this book?

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Imants Zudans
  • 23-07-14

Illustrations missing

Any additional comments?

The audio book makes references to illustrations in the printed book. However, PDF with illustrations is missing. Unacceptable. There must be a warning about this before placing an order.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Marcin
  • 27-05-18

A good intro. Embracing consciousness as illusion.

a lucid and engrossing introduction into problems with and theories of consciousness, embracing the theory of consciousness as illusion which is the leitmotif in the book. The taste of the motif you can get from a ca. 15min long informal review with S. Blackmore done by Richard Wiseman, where, among other things, she talks quite a lot about her background and sources of her theory of consciousness. For some fragments / pictures it is worth having a textual version of the book. The narration is good.

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  • Mike A Klotz
  • 08-06-17

Interesting but

The subject matter is way beyond the scope of the book. to be fair the author did say it was a short introduction. there are no answers to be found here but there are probably not answers to be found anywhere. This could serve as a road map to further investigation in other fields. I think the author went too far and wants Zen Buddhist Meditation to be the answer. I disagree.. one last note, I did not enjoy the narrator, she speaks too much like a computer for my liking and it was a little dry and emotionless.

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  • Ryan Kuster
  • 15-04-16

Excellent overview for newly interested

The narrator does a great job and the pace of the reading felt ideal. The actual contents seemed to rely heavily on the work of Dennett, which is not an entirely bad thing. For a comprehensive overview, I think more time could have been spent on modern alternatives to the multiple drafts hypothesis, even if less popular. Overall I would recommend this to anyone wanting to understand the problems involved with studying consciousness.