Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness
Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness

Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness

by Benjamin Libet, Stephen M. Kosslyn

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Our subjective inner life is what really matters to us as human beings--and yet we know relatively little about how it arises. Over a long and distinguished career Benjamin Libet has conducted experiments that have helped us see, in clear and concrete ways, how the brain produces conscious awareness. For the first time, Libet gives his own account of these experiments and their importance for our understanding of consciousness. Most notably, Libet's experiments reveal a substantial delay--the "mind time" of the title--before any awareness affects how we view our mental activities. If all conscious awarenesses are preceded by unconscious processes, as Libet observes, we are forced to conclude that unconscious processes initiate our conscious experiences. Freely voluntary acts are found to be initiated unconsciously before an awareness of wanting to act--a discovery with profound ramifications for our understanding of free will. How do the physical activities of billions of cerebral nerve cells give rise to an integrated conscious subjective awareness? How can the subjective mind affect or control voluntary actions? Libet considers these questions, as well as the implications of his discoveries for the nature of the soul, the identity of the person, and the relation of the non-physical subjective mind to the physical brain that produces it. Rendered in clear, accessible language, Libet's experiments and theories will allow interested amateurs and experts alike to share the experience of the extraordinary discoveries made in the practical study of consciousness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674040168
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2009
Series: Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Stephen M. Kosslyn is John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James, Emeritus, Harvard University, and Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Table of Contents

Contents Foreword Preface 1. Introduction to the Question 2. The Delay in Our Conscious Sensory Awareness 3. Unconscious and Conscious Mental Functions 4. Intention to Act: Do We Have Free Will? 5. Conscious Mental Field Theory: Explaining How the Mental Arises from the Physical 6. What Does It All Mean? Bibliography Index

What People are Saying About This

David Rosenthal

Mind Time makes for extremely interesting, engaging reading. Its discussions of consciousness, subjectivity, free will, and perception will intrigue anybody in philosophy or psychology interested in those topics. This is a valuable book to have available.
David Rosenthal, Philosophy and Cognitive Science Graduate Center, City University of New York

From the Foreword by Stephen Kosslyn

This book is strikingly different from most of the other books on consciousness in one key respect: it focuses on empirical discoveries, not speculation or argument.

Robert W. Doty

Benjamin Libet's discoveries are of extraordinary interest. His is almost the only approach yet to yield any credible evidence of how conscious awareness is produced by the brain. Mind Time endeavors to clarify these startling observations for the general public, set them in proper framework of neuroscientific knowledge, and probe their philosophical meaning. Libet's work is unique, and speaks to questions asked by all humankind.
Robert W. Doty, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester

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