A study in consciousness

This month’s Prospect Magazine has an article by neuropsychologist Paul Broks that takes a recent book on consciousness as a starting point for an exploration of how the brain generates this curious form of self-awareness.

The book in question is Nicholas Humphrey’s Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness (ISBN 0674021797) that takes an evolutionary approach to understanding the ‘hard problem‘.

Broks wrote a fantastic meandering book on the effects of brain injury on consciousness called Into the Silent Land (ISBN 1843540347) and writes in a wonderfully conversational style.

He highlights Humphrey’s novel approach to understanding consciousnes and how this may have arisen through natural selection:

In his 1992 book A History of the Mind, Humphrey argued that consciousness is grounded in bodily sensation rather than thought, and proposed a speculative evolutionary account of the emergence of sentience. Seeing Red is a refinement and extension of those ideas. Put simply, we don’t so much have sensations as do them. Sensation is “on the production side of the mind rather than the reception side.”

The article is both a review and a summary of Humphrey’s ideas and is well worth checking out.

Link to Prospect article ‘The Mystery of Consciousness’.

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