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| 08-03-2009 14:48The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach

Christof Koch (2004)
Wikipedia: author

In contrast to almost all other books in this list, Christoff Koch does not tackle consciousness from a philosophical viewpoint. He uses concrete experiments, many by himself and his partner: Francis Crick. This is refreshing and shows that the topic does not have to be so elusive as many people think. There are two minor issues I have with this book. First, he tries to change the meaning of the words 'zombie' and 'homunculus' by associating them with more concrete neuronal processes or networks than the philosophers do that usually use these terms. He only half succeeds, thereby increasing the confusion surrounding the terms. Second, Koch repeatedly states that it is necessary to experiment on monkeys and other animals in order to learn about (human) consciousness, while at the same time propagating the opinion that it is unethical to do this on humans. If these animals have such similar consciousnesses to ours, I would say it follows that it is unethical to perform those experiments on them as well. Because the book discusses a lot of hard science, it is not recommended for the casual reader, but it is an excellent startpoint or overview for (beginning) scientist, although it does not have surprises in store for vision researchers.

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