Review of 'Consciousness and the Brain: A Scientific and Philosophical Inquiry'
Baker (Lynne Rudder) & Woodruff (David M.)
Source: Neuropsychologia, 16, 1978
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Consciousness and the Brain is an anthology whose contributors are eminent neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists and psychiatrists attempting to illuminate the multifarious issues surrounding the "world- knot" — the problem of how consciousness is related to the brain. As a collection of essays which transcends the interests of any particular academic discipline and which reveals the complexity of the problems involved in unravelling the world-knot, a volume of this kind is to be welcomed. Consciousness and the Brain is brimming with stimulating ideas from a great variety of perspectives.
  2. Aside from a round-table discussion by the contributors of the role of scientific results in theories of mind and brain, the articles fall roughly into two categories: philosophical articles, not necessarily by philosophers, which attempt to supply a conceptual framework for problems of consciousness; and articles in which philosophical positions are presented as adjuncts to empirical findings.
  3. In conclusion, what is new about this book as a whole, and what is a contribution to the area, is the bringing together of so many different viewpoints into one volume. In so doing, this volume serves to stimulate thought about both concepts and data which are relevant to the neurosciences and the philosophy of mind. Given the present level of our knowledge concerning the functioning of the brain, it is not surprising that no putative solution to the problem of the "world-knot" emerges. Nor is it surprising that such a variety of viewpoints as are expressed in this volume are held so adamantly. We should be encouraged by such evidence of concern Over this problem by such outstanding scholars and perhaps remember the suggestion of William James in his essay The Will to Believe: "For the purposes of discovery such indifference is to be less highly recommended, and science would be far less advanced than she as if the passionate desires of individuals to get their own faiths confirmed had been kept out of the game."


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