Collective Consciousness and Its Discontents:: Institutional distributed cognition, racial policy, and public health in the United States / Edition 1

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An earlier book by Rodrick Wallace entitled Consciousness: A Mathematical Treatment of the Global Neuronal Workspace Model, introduced a formal information-theoretic approach to individual consciousness. This latest book takes a more formal 'groupoid' perspective to its predecessor and generalizes the results presented in that earlier book. It applies a multiple-workspace version of Dr. Wallace’s earlier consciousness model to large-scale institutional cognition.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes the mathematical analysis of collective consciousness, with a focus on the relation between public policy and public health, specifically AIDS and TB. The authors explore why AIDS control and treatment has failed in the United States, indicating a larger problem affecting large groups of people, especially minorities.
Purpose: According to the authors, "this book appears to be the first comprehensive formal mathematical analysis of distributed cognition. While the main focus is on the relation between policy and public health — particularly surrounding the failure of AIDS and TB control and treatment in the United States — the theory has wider implications and applications." They continue in the introduction: "We will show below that the canonical inattentional blindness of collective consciousness in the U.S. to the impacts of serial forced displacement of vulnerable communities will likely create concentrations of multiply-drug resistant HIV within the nation's permanent refugee populations, resulting in epicenters having great force of infections," concluding, "Ending policies of serial forced displacement of African-Americans and others would go far in limiting the susceptibility of the nation to emerging infections and to lessening the destabilizing burdens of violence and social decay which threaten to engulf the country."
Audience: The authors do not indicate who their intended audience is, but researchers and individuals interested in public health and racial policy would be appropriate. However, readers need an extensive background in mathematics to fully appreciate this book.
Features: The book begins with a look at history, starting with the American Revolution and its effects down through the years on African-Americans and other minorities. It continues with theoretical paradigms by differentiating individual consciousness, using Baars' Global Workspace Theory, from collective consciousness and the ideas of Dretske. The remainder of the book deals with public health issues (chronic and infectious diseases) and how the U.S. government has failed in educating and treating those groups who are most at risk. The last chapter includes three interesting case studies involving HIV/AIDS. This book brings to the fore important ideas on the integration of public health and racial issues. However, unless one has an extensive background in this field, the complex mathematical equations and accompanying narrative are almost incomprehensible.
Assessment: This book presents some very important ideas in public health and racial policy, presenting them in the context of the collective consciousness. The case studies at the end help to bring out the important points. However, the book is a difficult read given the complex theories and mathematical formulas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441945747
  • Publisher: Springer US
  • Publication date: 11/4/2010
  • Edition description: Softcover reprint of hardcover 1st ed. 2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 0.46 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 6.14 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction.- Consciousness and Distributed Cognition.- Formal Theory.- Pathologies of Collective Consciousness.- Disease and Collective Consciousness.- The Failure of AIDS Control and Treatment in the U.S.- Final Remarks.- Mathematical Appendix.- References.

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