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Consciousness Explained [Format Kindle]

Daniel C. Dennett
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

This book revises the traditional view of consciousness by claiming that Cartesianism and Descartes' dualism of mind and body should be replaced with theories from the realms of neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence. What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but "multiple drafts" of reality composed by a computer-like "virtual machine". Dennett considers how consciousness could have evolved in human beings and confronts the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures.

Biographie de l'auteur

Daniel Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea. He is currently the Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 4719 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 516 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0316180653
  • Editeur : Penguin; Édition : New Ed (24 juin 1993)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°76.355 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent 15 septembre 2011
Ce livre est vraiment excellent. Le défi de savoir qu'est-ce que la conscience chez l'être humain y est expliqué de façon claire.
Plusieurs modèles computationnels de la conscience y sont présentés.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
J'avais espéré des théories et des hypothèses scientifiques modernes, éventuellement des tentatives d'expliciter la notion de "conscience".
Ici on retoune a Volaire, Diderot et autres....donc..pour une vue littéraire et historique de la notion de conscience parfait. Pour un essai scientifique: dehors.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 étoiles sur 5  158 commentaires
165 internautes sur 180 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Conscious is as conscious does 2 septembre 2002
Par Jeremy M. Harris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who once remarked with pride that he was a generous literary putter-inner, while minimalists like Ernest Hemingway were stingy leaver-outers. No one who finishes "Consciousness Explained" will doubt that Dennett belongs among the putter-inners. For example, on reaching page 280 the reader is casually told, "I have been coy about consciousness up to now." If only we had known, Daniel, that you've been toying with us through half the book...
Dennett does make a coherent case, but the theme is buried in so many asides and diversions that one needs a conceptual GPS to stay oriented. Since he has the whole map in his head, the author naturally tends to forget that others on the tour bus may have lost their bearings two or three turns ago. On the plus side, Dennett's pleasantly conversational tone, clever analogies and colorful terminology (Stalinesque, Multiple Drafts, Witness Protection Program) help to sustain our interest and clarify difficult concepts.
The big picture (I think) is that investigations of consciousness have traditionally been hindered by reliance on the concept of a "Cartesian Theater" in the mind where a homunculus (the audience) makes conscious observations. As long as the nature of the theater and the homunculus remain elusive, the whole approach merely begs the questions of what consciousness is and how it happens. Dennett proposes that neither the theater nor the audience exists (i.e. the analogies are empty) and that a massively parallel process he calls Multiple Drafts is more descriptive of what happens in a conscious brain. The thrust of his argument is that understanding consciousness requires no ultimate appeal to mind/brain dualities, souls, spirits, quantum weirdness or other trappings of the "it can't be straightforward" school. This has led disappointed devotees of the ineffable to make dismissive remarks like "Dennett explains everything under the sun EXCEPT consciousness." Don't believe it.
Dennett's background in philosophy serves him well in addressing the subtleties of cognition, but the resulting terminology may wear a bit on the reader. Sometimes I thought that if I saw the 22-letter monster "heterophenomenological" one more time, I would scream. On the other hand, Dennett's tale of the imaginary deity Feenoman, based on the root of this word, manages to be both hilarious and instructive. The book is an excellent choice for those who are not merely inclined, but also steadfastly determined, to learn more about the machinery of consciousness.
132 internautes sur 152 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Unfulfilled Promise, but a Worthy Read 2 juillet 2001
Par Brian Bagnall - Publié sur Amazon.com
The good news is, this is a thought-provoking book, and anyone reading it will walk away feeling they know a little more about what makes humans conscious. The bad news is he doesn't come close to fulfilling the promise of the title. Dennett presents a pretty simple theory that could be explained in a few pages and a nice diagram. The theory is this: `Basically, instead of a tiny "soul" that represents consciousness, our mind is composed of many simple task-specific processes'. He could have presented this concisely and dug deeper into the components of the theory. Instead he seems to want to stretch it out unnecessarily for about the first 200 pages of the book, and he's not even clear in explaining it! He also overstates the impact of this theory repeatedly - commenting that it "might seem outrageous" and that it's "counterintuitive". Actually, it's neither of those things, so it just seems like he's trying to over inflate the theory. Usually when reading these types of books I get that "Aha!" feeling now and then, but I didn't get it once reading this book.
He also builds up a straw man in the form of "the Cartesian theater" and repeatedly bashes it. I don't know why it's so important to him to put this theory to rest - probably this is something important in philosophical circles. If this Cartesian Theater is a big force in philosophy, I must say I'm a little disappointed in the whole philosophical field. They should learn about programming. I would much rather see him building on his existing model, digging deeper into the specifics, cataloguing and explaining what some of these "mini-homunculi" or automatic functions might be. Instead he repeatedly beats a dead horse.
Most programmers have the mindset that complex behavior can be built up from many simple functions. It's what we all do day in and day out when programming. This is exactly what Dennett argues about the human mind, so it is nothing new. Then he starts arguing against the theory of the Cartesian Theater, which posits that the mind has a "center" or pineal gland, or soul, or one of many names it is given. As an atheist, this argument is also pretty much unnecessary to me, and probably to a lot of other readers out there. So it's similar to arguing to an astronaut that the earth is round. For 300 more pages! After a while you just want him to move on.
He also didn't explore very much the role that emotions play, and how these might make our own consciousness seem slightly magical. I would have been interested in hearing him ponder that. He also talked about how words are important to thought, but then never bothered to mention how meditation (the absence of words/pictures/thoughts in the mind) is related to all this. If words are so important, is it possible to do thought without their use? I don't know - he never mentioned it.
It may sound like I didn't like this book, but actually it is extremely thought provoking. Dennett is firmly in the materialist camp, so anyone with a scientific mind towards nature will agree with pretty much everything he says. The chapter on the evolution of consciousness is especially delicious. But it's like reading an astronomy book about the latest theories of the origins of the universe, and every five pages the author builds another straw man in the form of the earth being flat, then gleefully bashes the man down. Too much defense, not enough offense! He should have been braver and included more specifics. I think he was a little fearful of being proven wrong if he mentioned too many details. But a worthwhile read anyway.
74 internautes sur 89 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Break from Decartes 30 janvier 2000
Par Dan O'Day - Publié sur Amazon.com
Contrary to other reviewers, I believe Dennett has a very powerful definition of Consciousness. Having studied this subject for over 12 years I found this book to be truly original. It was a breakthrough - even for Dennett himself (having read many of his other works).
His theory is that there is NO central meaner. No homunculus sitting in our heads that "understands" us or exists separate from our body. We are all narratives of our own existence. No more or less real than a character in a story, and like a story our experience is drafted - the blanks are filled in with the most reasonable explanation. Self is the center of narrative gravity of a body. Not something separate from it.
Dennett goes to great length to discredit other theories before presenting his own. Thus Dennett holds out from explaining his theory until the end of the book. This may cause many readers to loose interest. If you enjoy reading philosophy you will enjoy this book.
IMHO - There is a good chance that 100 years from now Dennett's view of Consciousness will be widely held.
36 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Best Book on Consciousness I've Seen So Far 15 avril 2007
Par Stuart W. Mirsky - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This book's great drawback is that it is probably overly long. I'm sure the basic ideas could have been laid out more succinctly with much greater verbal economy. That said, however, it is probably the case that there are few books out there which do a better job of deconstructing the idea of consciousness. This is a big debate, particularly among some philosophers, no doubt reflecting the tendency to want to believe in the specialness of consciousness. But it's Dennett's contention that consciousness is not so special after all, that it is a natural result of evolutionary forces and that it can be adequately explained in mechanistic terms, thus discarding the misleading "ghost in the machine" notion which seems to infect our thinking about mind at every turn.

Dennett's major antagonist in this debate has been John Searle whose Chinese Room argument has been deployed again and again to deny the possibility which Dennett is here asserting, that consciousness is basically a natural phenomenon (Searle agrees, by the way that consciousness is natural, while arguing against a genuinely naturalistic description). Dennett spends a lot of time exploring side paths and building alternative models for understanding consciousness as he works to get his reader to jettison old notions about the mind as an entity uniquely set apart from the things it attends to, what he calls the "central meaner" or the audience in the Cartesian theater (alluding to Descarte's insight that our mental life is qualitatively different from the physical world we encounter). Dennet builds his case by exploring recent research on brains and human behavior as well as by sketching out an evolutionary picture about how consciousness may have come to be. But he does not get around to dealing with Searle's Chinese Room argument until the book's end and then it is almost as though it were an afterthought.

It's the great strength of Dennett's book that, in fact, Searle's argument seems, by the time he comes to it, to be worth no more than that. Dennett rightly shows that Searle's argument fails because Searle insufficiently depicts the level of computer functionality required to generate and sustain a conscious mind. Where Searle, in his argument, notes that the simple mechanism of a look up table could not possibly constitute a program capable of creating mental life, Dennett rightly points out that this fails to address the problem since it is not a simple look up table that is at the heart of the claim of the AI people. If Searle's Chinese Room argument, constituted as Searle constitutes it, is inadequate for the purpose, this is yet to say nothing about the sort of system that would be required and is theoretically available. It is not a Chinese Room on the Searlean model that must be considered but, perhaps, using the same metaphor, a Chinese Building or a Chinese City. The capacity for sustaining consciousness would necessarily require a vast complex of systems and, as Dennett notes, it is this complex of systems itself, the full system, that would have to do the trick. Searle's argument says nothing about THAT model and so misses the point.

Dennett patiently explains how the systems would need to overlay one another and how this accords with the evolutionary evidence in the biological world as well as with the model of programs on computers which he likens to virtual machines on a platform of real machines. He carefully lays out the the way computers developed, as serial machines and proposes that since the brain is not a serial machine but a parallel processor, there would probably be the need to use the new parallel computing technologies coming on line as the platform, with virtual serial machines (their programs) running on them.

This is not a popular view in some quarters since the notion that we are merely machines is troubling to many. But Dennett does his best to defuse the notion while pointing out how the philosophical ideas of zombiehood and qualia really carry no water. He doesn't offer arguments so much as a debunking of these quaint notions with an eye toward opening us up toward the mechanistic model, dispelling our natural fear of embracing such a view. In the end he tells us there are no souls and no afterlife but that there's no reason this need scare us. And he gives us a basis for retaining a belief in a moral point of view despite this loss.

In all, this is a longish but excellent exposition of his profoundly materialistic ideas. One thing did strike me though and that was his overly clever swipes at political conservatism and the Reagan administration (he was writing this book during that era). At one point relatively early on he makes a somewhat snide backhand strike at what he obviously thinks is the low level of intellect to be found in the administration of that era, and punctures their seemingly foolish notion that cutting taxes will increase revenue. The Laffer Curve, which predicts just this result, is a hunk of hooey he suggests. Only one problem. The empirical evidence since those years is against his view. In fact government revenues did surge because the economy improved as a result of the Reagan tax cuts and they surged again when Bush II cut taxes early in his first term and again in 2003. Combined with the evidence of tax revenue jumps after the tax cuts of the JFK years, we are now 3 for 3 in terms of this argument. It just goes to show you that even smart guys like Dennett, who clearly has a strong handle on the idea of consciousness, are driven at times by their own biases and pre-existing beliefs.

48 internautes sur 58 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The naysayers are missing the point. 17 novembre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Consider this: A magician makes a coin "disappear" and you are asked to explain it. You can analyze the illusion and figure out how it works, but you can't actually explain how he made it vanish, since he didn't. It's just a trick, so all you need to do is explain how the trick works, how he made it SEEM to happen. That should be enough to please anyone, but then someone in the audience, upset that you've taken away the mystery, complains that you didn't explain how the disapearance "actually" happened.
This is exactly the reaction Dennett's book is getting. He analyzes what consciousness really is and how it must have come to be, yet these people want something more. Not content with having the actual explained, they demand that he explain the mythical but intuitive notions of the Cartesian theater and qualia and a host of other pleasant falsehoods, just so that they can lock science and philosophy out of the human mind, to keep it sacred for the new mysterians.
Well, they just can't have it. Dennett does explain consciousness, but to do so he must first blow away the myths and that makes the myth-believers unhappy. He shows that evolution is frugal, never paying for more than is actually needed to get the job done. And this leaves us with a true understanding that is all that much more awesome than the illusion it replaces.
If you want to live in a world of pretty colors, avoid this book. But if you care about the truth and want to know what consciousness is and isn't, read it now.
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