Consciousness Explained, Paperback
2.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


In "Consciousness Explained", Daniel C. Dennett reveals the secrets of one of the last remaining mysteries of the universe: the human brain.

Daniel C. Dennett's now-classic book blends philosophy, psychology and neuroscience - with the aid of numerous examples and thought-experiments - to explore how consciousness has evolved, and how a modern understanding of the human mind is radically different from conventional explanations of consciousness.

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 explains how science has exploded the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, the problems posed by qualia, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures. "Brilliant ...a torrent of stimulating thought". (Richard Dawkins). "Revolutionary of the most mentally agile, intellectually resourceful books you are likely to read". ("Guardian"). "A masterful tapestry of deep insights ...Dennett has written a profound and important book that is also clear, exciting and witty". (Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of "Godel, Escher, Bach"). "Extraordinary ...supremely engaging and witty". ("Independent"). "Dennett's exposition is nothing short of brilliant, the best example I've seen of a science book aimed at both professionals and general readers". ("The New York Times Book Review"). Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world.

A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies, and an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement.

His books include "Brainstorms", "Brainchildren", "Elbow Room", "Breaking the Spell", "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" and "Freedom Evolves".


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Philosophy of mind
  • ISBN: 9780140128673



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Mini-review: This is not a book about NLP, and I doubt that the author has ever heard of NLP. Yet his thesis of the ‘mechanism of mind’ and of the how consciousness might work is, in my opinion, another significant piece in the jig-saw that links the NLP model with what might be called ‘more mainstream’ philosophy and, perhaps, ‘psychology’ though this book is definitely in the former class.

Review by

One of the most wrong headed books on consciousness. At times Dennett reminds me of Gates and Clinton on the witness stand.

Review by

The author is a philosopher. However, the book opens with some disturbing hyperbole about the nature of consciousness, revealing the author’s lack of knowledge about the philosophy of science. The book then launches into some painstakingly slow expositions. Halfway through the book he finally speeds up and he finished the introduction. At this point, he announces he will not actually say how the mind works just indicate how one might be able to explain consciousness. Revealingly, he disparages his colleagues in cognitive fields as conceited, arrogant and narrowly focussed. He says they just guess and do not have any answers. He argues several points, in so doing making use of specially crafted unilluminating jargon such as Joycean, Vorsetzer, CADBLIND and zimbo. Firstly creating useful categories for non-identical things is subjective. Thus when we have a sequence of mental processes involving perceiving, deciding and acting, we cannot set objective demarcation lines. Likewise the set of underlying actions contributing to the consciousness self is fuzzy. Secondly the brain processes information in parallel, thereby providing multiple alternative opinions. Thirdly there is no command central in the brain; rather it uses a workspace to which all processes have two-way access. Then he opines that every autonomous system controlled by high-level software running on a virtual serial architecture is conscious. Were this pseudo-definition to be what we commonly think of as consciousness, and were our brains such parallel processes, then he would have shown how an explanation of consciousness was possible.

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