Its Function and Brain Processes
- Gerd Sommerhoff - Trinity College, Cambridge
November 2000 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"This is surely the ultimate expression of the top-down approach to consciousness, written with Sommerhoff's characteristic clarity and precision. It says far more than other books four times the size of this admirably concise volume. This book is destined to become a pillar of the subject." —Rodney Cotterill, Technical University of Denmark The problem of consciousness has been described as a mystery about which we are still in a terrible muddle and in Understanding Consciousness: Its Function and Brain Processes, the author attempts to unravel this mystery by offering a clarification of the main concepts related to consciousness, and positing a comprehensive biological explanation. Consequently, this book will be ideal for a wide-range of upper level undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The author interprets consciousness as a property that can be possessed by many creatures lacking a language faculty and comprises all of the following: awareness of the surrounding world; awareness of the self as an entity; and awareness of such things as thoughts and feelings. He argues that a biological approach can achieve both the necessary conceptual clarifications and a joint explanation of these divisions of awareness in terms of just two accurately defined concepts of 'internal representation' and two empirically supported assumptions about the functional architecture of a specific set of brain processes. Despite this striking simplicity, his model covers these divisions of awareness both as objective faculties of the brain and as subjective experience. These conclusions are applied to a broad range of fundamental questions, including the biological rationale of subjective experience and where consciousness resides in the neural networks.
PART ONE: CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED IN SIMPLE FUNCTIONAL TERMS
A Methodical Biological Approach and Its Conclusions
Awareness of the Surrounding World
Awareness of the Self as an Entity and of One's Thoughts and Feelings
A Closer Look at the Four Main Propositions
Questions and Answers
PART TWO: THE FABRIC OF THE UNDERLYING BRAIN PROCESSES
Where Does Consciousness Reside in the Brain?
`This is surely the ultimate expression of the top-down approach to consciousness, written with Sommerhoff's characteristic clarity and precision. It says far more than other books four times the size of this admirably concise volume. This book is destined to become a pillar of the subject' - Rodney Cotterill, Technical University of Denmark