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Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist par [Koch, Christof]
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Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist Reprint , Format Kindle

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Description du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. This engaging book -- part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation -- describes Koch's search for an empirical explanation for consciousness. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest -- his instinctual (if "romantic") belief that life is meaningful.Koch describes his own groundbreaking work with Francis Crick in the 1990s and 2000s and the gradual emergence of consciousness (once considered a "fringy" subject) as a legitimate topic for scientific investigation. Present at this paradigm shift were Koch and a handful of colleagues, including Ned Block, David Chalmers, Stanislas Dehaene, Giulio Tononi, Wolf Singer, and others. Aiding and abetting it were new techniques to listen in on the activity of individual nerve cells, clinical studies, and brain-imaging technologies that allowed safe and noninvasive study of the human brain in action. Koch gives us stories from the front lines of modern research into the neurobiology of consciousness as well as his own reflections on a variety of topics, including the distinction between attention and awareness, the unconscious, how neurons respond to Homer Simpson, the physics and biology of free will, dogs, Der Ring des Nibelungen, sentient machines, the loss of his belief in a personal God, and sadness. All of them are signposts in the pursuit of his life's work -- to uncover the roots of consciousness.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 589 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 195 pages
  • Editeur : The MIT Press; Édition : Reprint (9 mars 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B007D58OM6
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  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client
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Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Au cours de ces dix chapitres écrits dans une langue simple, claire et concise, Christof Koch évoque son parcours intellectuel, sa collaboration avec Francis Crick, et leurs recherches sur le fonctionnement du cerveau et sur l'élaboration de la conscience. Chemin faisant, l'auteur expose les questions auxquelles les philosophes et les scientifiques essayent de répondre depuis des siècles au sujet de la nature de la conscience et des différents niveaux de l'inconscient humain, ou animal.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards) 4.3 étoiles sur 5 52 commentaires
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wonderful book 19 janvier 2016
Par Tony H. - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Wonderful book. Very easy to read. I most admired his 'courage' to go directly into topics such as free will and god that most scientists try to avoid; thus leaving such important topics at the hands of philosophers or the religious gurus - both of whom are no more qualified to speak about them than anyone else in the world. However, it's about time we address such issues as consciousness, god, free will from the basis of empirical evidence and scientific research. I also really admired his openness in the last chapter about his own insecurities and skepticism about how to interpret all the scientific information on these topics. Overall, I think Christof is a good scientist but more than that he's an authentic, genuinely kind (read his take on being a vegetarian) person seeking for the ultimate questions via science, not just mystical poetic talks. Thank you Christof for sharing your thoughts with us!!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An intimate approach to the topic of consciousness 24 septembre 2014
Par Odysseus at home - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Consciousness is one of the hot topics today in science. Perhaps nobody feels especially affected by the multiverses or by what the dark matter or the dark energy are. But everyone has an idea, has been affected or plain and simple wanted to know what is this stuff that "speaks" all the time inside our heads.

So in my case I bought this book because it gives an explanation through a detailed account about what consciousness is (not a ghost, just in case), which means what we know about it today, what it is consciousness now, and what we could expect to know for the future. Another reason is that Christof Koch is an authority on the subject so the combination for learning something new and serious on the topic was perfect.

The other reason to read the book was the personal approach that Koch proposes as a writer. He creates a personal and very intimate relationship with the reader as long as he tells you about his life, how he came to be involved in the subject of consciousness and which are his ideas today after decades of study.

Christof Koch, a physicist, worked for several years with Francis Crick (one of the DNA discoverers) so the proximity with the history of science, the philosophy involved and the effects of living a life dedicated to know who's that guy inside our brains, is all very close, intermingled and narrated in a very exciting style. To read this book is something very similar to stay at Koch's living room, listening to him and sharing good moments of high level science, sadness, memories and humor. "What is striking," says Koch, "to a physicist studying the brain and the mind is the absence of any conservation laws: Synapses, action potentials, neurons, attention, memory, and consciousness are not conserved in any meaningful sense. Instead, what biology and psychology do have in exuberant abundance are empirical observations-facts. There is no unifying theory, with the singular exception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection... [which] is open ended, and not predictive."

Having said that you can rightly conclude that this is both a book about consciousness and also about Koch's consciousness (the reason, I guess, behind the subtitle of the book: "Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist"). Two books in one but clearly separated and cleverly explained and documented.

Indeed, there is lots of explanations based on enormous advances and data about the topic of consciousness but the bad news is there is no consciousness in the form of a cube, a pyramid, or a little person inside a grey box in our heads. There is not a single organ. There is no a special piece of matter with an etiquette saying "consciousness." There is only indirect and distributed evidence. That's the cause of questions like: "How the brain converts bioelectrical activity into subjective states, how photons reflected off water are magically transformed into the percept of an iridescent aquamarine mountain tarn..." To reinforce the idea, Koch quotes John Tyndale: "Granted that a definite thought, and a definite molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not posses the intellectual organ, nor apparently any rudiment of the organ, which would enable us to pass, by a process of reasoning, from the one phenomenon to the other." And thus he arrives to the question of "WHY." Why we see what we see through the microscope or the scanner or the fMRI or, you name it, instead of the consciousness. Why we see the crime but not the corpse. We see a correlate, a shadow, an oscillation, but we don't see the thing in itself. Why some strange things happen in our brain when we see a rose? And "how does nervous tissue acquire an interior, first person point of view?"

A hard problem that Christof Koch deals with experience, intelligence, insight and, last but not least, a romantic vein, to let you know how difficult is the task of looking for this material and intrinsic "ghost". This is why, at the end of the book, in chapter 10, he addressed some difficult issues "considered off-limits...of scientific discourse," to limit, of course, the extent of an open end that could be disappointing. This chapter is a personal final for the author and works as the human side of a scientific that opposes the dualistic view of the world and ask difficult questions, such as "Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia [who] had already pointed out to Descartes three centuries earlier -by what means does the immaterial soul direct the physical brain to accomplish its aim?" If we look for explanations, Koch says, "we must abandon the classical view of the immortal soul." Even in this perspective, Koch manages to get out of trouble that an excessive materialism (physicalism) posits by proposing instead "an alternative account that augments physicalism." So what follows is a step further the end of the book and I'm not going to talk about it, except to add that I would have preferred that the book had finished some lines before this last rumination. To me, a tiny stain, an unnecessary (although eloquent) allegation to give a possible solution to an "impossible" task.

So there are no four stars up there, but 4,9.

Great work!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Personal and informative 3 janvier 2013
Par Steve Potter - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Excellent and very readable overview of Koch's seminal work on making the study of consciousness more scientific, with the help of Francis Crick. They were good friends, and he speaks of him often in this book. Koch asserts a neo-panpsychist view (that there is some consciousness in everything, even if only a tiny amount), which I agree with, but have not found too many others who do. He also explains Giulio Tononi's theory on how to measure conscious quantitatively (see Tononi's book, Phi), by determining the amounts of integration and differentiation in a system. This opens the door to all sorts of interesting non-living things being considered conscious. The book includes many interesting tidbits on free will, the role of the unconscious, and which parts of the brain are most important for the kind of consciousness you and I have when we are awake. He reveals aspects of his personal life to explain the path by which he has come to the discoveries and conclusions he has made, and also to remind the reader he is human: "Despite the bombastic ending, nothing in my book should be construed as taking me or my life too seriously," he writes at the end of the end notes. This book is well worth reading if you are at all interested in consciousness and brains.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Can natural science study consciousness? 4 octobre 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Yes. If you ever pondered on this question, this book will definitely show you that the answer is a certain yes. Whether science can "explain" consciousness is another question that the book addresses, with less certainty but with stupendousness. The book provides an argument using results from research and experimentation in the field of neuroscience that show how conscious experience is related to neural activity and how it can be explained scientifically.
But do not get the wrong idea, this book is not a purely scientific book. Koch used an interesting approach to give an autobiographical book spirit. Throughout the book you will be interrupted with insightful statements from Koch's life and his career, I found the most interesting to be his collaboration with the legendary Francis Crick and his struggle with religious belief.
Confessions is a great book, not as informative as it could have been, but absolutely touching. The research on consciousness, its philosophical implications, the potential of information theory to explain the mystery of subjective experience, and even Koch's personal anecdotes -make this short book unforgettable.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Absorbing and Moving 22 février 2013
Par Richard C. Sha - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
At first, I found this book annoying. TMI about the author's biography. Given the author's stance about consciousness--that there is something like mind consciousness and brain consciousness, and the two are not the same--I came to understand the rhetorical purpose of the biographical in a book about the problem of consciousness. The self is not always in charge, but the only hope of greater conscious awareness is to reflect upon the unconscious facets that greatly underpin consciousness. In this book, one will learn about the existence of concept neurons--that one might have a neuron devoted to the concept of Jennifer Aniston (can Jennifer Aniston be a concept?), about the difference between consciousness and attention, and about choice blindness, and about the possibility that neurons devoted to action process more quickly than those devoted to thought. If only Hamlet had known his problem was essentially neuronal! Despite the fact that Koch dwells on how little awareness we have about our selves he is nonetheless a self-professed Romantic reductionist, and by that he means that science and scientific reductionism in particular will grasp the mind-body problem, notwithstanding the thousands of different neurons and even more neurotransmitters. Because he understands consciousness as working across neuronal locales, reductionism has its work cut out for it. Overall, highly stimulating and engagingly written, and this is no mean feat given that books on consciousness have been known to make people wish for unconsciousness.
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