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How To Be Conscious: Mind & Matter Revisited

What exactly is consciousness? Roger Caldwell looks at the current ideas of three leading figures in philosophy of mind, as revealed in their latest books.

From being a neglected aspect of the philosophy of mind the problem of consciousness has moved in recent years to be one of the hottest topics. But what progress has been made? How far are we towards a consensus? Three new books by long-standing practitioners in the field – Daniel Dennett, John Searle, and Colin McGinn – offer three very different views. The oddity is that all three start from what is essentially the same standpoint, that of scientific naturalism. That is, all three believe that human consciousness is dependent on brain-states, and that it has emerged by essentially Darwinian mechanisms as a natural (rather than supernatural) feature of the world. But that is where the consensus ends.

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