Readings for a Humanist Meeting on Consciousness

In a previous post I mentioned that I will moderate a humanist meeting on consciousness. This post contains some further information on that for participants, and whoever else might find it relevant.

Here are some of the questions I will raise:

  • What are pertinent questions to ask about consciousness?
  • What are the functions of human consciousness?
  • What are qualia and why are they unimportant?
  • What are some of the types of mental processes humans evince while they pay attention, think and/or feel?

I will avoid the thorny question, “What is consciousness?”, and simply use consciousness as shorthand for the executive suite of the human brain, comprising the functions that manage its processing of information. This is Merlin Donald’s view of consciousness.

Rather than work from a single text, participants can choose from several sources from cognitive science, such as:

Free resources:

Books on consciousness

The main resource of our humanist meeting, however, will be:

  • Donald, M. (2001). A mind so rare: The evolution of human consciousness. W. W. Norton & Company.

Oldies but goodies:

  • Baars, B. J. (1988). A cognitive theory of consciousness. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Baars, B. J. (1997). In the theater of consciousness: The workspace of the mind. Oxford University Press on Demand. (Short, highly readable book.)

  • Dennett, D. C. (1992). Consciousness explained. Back Bay Books. (Not my first pick. But entertaining, has some insights, and often quoted.)

Stay tuned to this part of the CogZest blog for more information.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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