|Author||Steven W. Smith||Entered||2002-05-07 01:38:42 by kalkibagawan|
|Edit||edit data record||Freedom||Copyrighted, doesn't cost money to read, but otherwise not free (disclaimer)|
|Subject||B. - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion|
|Lecture, 1 Good Idea, and Lame Arguments about Awareness|
by Lion Rushton Brock Kimbro (lion x speakeasy x org) on 2002-05-21 18:40:07, review #189
This is a bad book with a single good idea in it. Read chapters 7 and 8 to get the good idea, and then dispose of the book.
Chapters 1-6 are a waste of human effort, unless you want an introduction to the nervous system, want to know what neurons are, would like a general understanding of the mind-body problem, don't know who DesCartes was, and are stuck on a island with access to only this book. The author could very well have referred the reader to better books on the subjects; The market is already full of such materials, in every permutation of breadth or deapth that you could possibly want. I suppose the author did it because he'd feel sheeping making a 2-3 chapter long book, and decided to fill the book with something to make it longer.
The only chapter really necessary is Chapter 7: The Subreality Machine in the Brain. (Chapter 8 is also worthwhile, and extends Chapter 7 by a few pages.) The idea is that the experience of dreams and the experience of our conscious life are of the same quality, the only major difference being that when we are awake, the dream is made to coordinate with our sensory perceptions.
He argues primarily from experiences people have in dreams that sometimes have the same quality and clarity of sensory experience as conscious experience, and from the non-perception of blind spots, and the existence of visual bloopers of interpretation. (I agree with his conclusions).
The remainder of the book is a worthless argument that is a variety of the popular "You aren't really aware, you just THINK you are" line of thought. I don't say worthless because of the actual argument itself (which I think is false, but not worthless), but rather, because it doesn't contribute anything new to the previously existing literature. Again, he could have just said "I agree with Denett", or "I agree with blah blah", and just included a reference to these people's books and arguments. It does not present a better or canonical codification of the arguments. The only thing of possible merit is his addition of discussion that includes material from Chapters 7 and 8, but I find that- our perception of reality or subreality alike, it adds no real weight to his convinctions. I agree with his conclusions in 7 and 8, but fail to see how they make the remainder of arguments, already well covered elsewhere, any bit stronger.
The writing is of mediocre quality. Sometimes it reads like PT Barnum spoke, or reminiscent of "a Boy and a Battery": "Many readers will find the ideas in this book bizarre, something more akin to science fiction than science. But science itself has become increasingly strange during the last one hundred yeras..." We are given cute admonishments: "Science is about keeping the method and procedures pure, and then accepting whatever consequences result. What we end up believing is not important; our justification for believing it is everything. This is the way of science." I suppose this is a warning, lest we doubt his conclusions at the end of the book.
My advice is to read the portions that have to do with explaining the nature of the subreality engine, and how an idea world is constructed from the physical world.
You can safely dispense with the remainder.
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