Zombies and Consciousness

Zombies and Consciousness

3.12 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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By definition zombies would be physically and behaviourally just like us, but not conscious. This currently very influential idea is a threat to all forms of physicalism, and has led some philosophers to give up physicalism and become dualists. It has also beguiled many physicalists, who feel forced to defend increasingly convoluted explanations of why the conceivability of zombies is compatible with their impossibility. Robert Kirk argues that the zombie idea
depends on an incoherent view of the nature of phenomenal consciousness.

His book has two main aims. One is to demolish the zombie idea once and for all. There are plenty of objections to it in the literature, but they lack intuitive appeal. He offers a striking new argument which reveals fundamental confusions in the implied conception of consciousness. His other main contribution is to develop a fresh and original approach to the true nature of phenomenal consciousness. Kirk argues that a necessary condition is a 'basic package' of capacities. An important
component of his argument is that the necessary cognitive capacities are not as sophisticated as is often assumed. By focusing on humbler creatures than ourselves he avoids some of the distracting complications of our sophisticated forms of cognition.

The basic package does not seem to be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness. What is also needed is 'direct activity' - a special feature of the way the events which constitute incoming perceptual information affect the system. This is an integrated process, to be conceived of holistically, and contrasts sharply with what is often called the 'availability' or 'poisedness' of perceptual information.
This original, penetrating, and highly readable book will be of interest to all who have a serious concern with the nature of consciousness: not only professional philosophers and students, but also many psychologists and neuroscientists.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 16mm | 405g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199229805
  • 9780199229802
  • 1,481,989

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Zombies and minimal physicalism ; 3. The case for zombies ; 4. Zapping the zombie idea ; 5. What has to be done ; 6. Deciders ; 7. Decision, control, and integration ; 8. De-sophisticating the framework ; 9. Direct activity ; 10. Gap? What gap? ; 11. Survival of the fittest
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Review quote

Kirk offers an intelligent and informed account of consciousness, together with an intriguing argument against the possibility of zombies. * Philip Goff, TLS * Review from previous edition This difficult book richly rewards reading and rereading. My review does no justice to its breadth of discussion and detail of argumentation...Kirk has convinced me. Zombies pose no threat to materialism. * Larry Hauser, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *
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Rating details

8 ratings
3.12 out of 5 stars
5 0% (0)
4 25% (2)
3 62% (5)
2 12% (1)
1 0% (0)
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