cover image Consciousness Explained

Consciousness Explained

Daniel C. Dennett. Little Brown and Company, $27.95 (511pp) ISBN 978-0-316-18065-8

Tufts University cognitive scientist Dennett claims to have developed a major new theory of consciousness, yet his view of the brain as a massive parallel processor is a familiar one. What is different in his counter-intuitive theory is the claim that human consciousness, rather than being ``hard-wired'' into the brain's innate machinery, is more like software ``running on the brain's parallel hardware'' and is largely a product of cultural evolution. Author of Brainstorms , Dennett leads the adventurous gently through thought experiments, metaphors and diagrams in a treatise keyed to the serious, diligent reader. He presents a plausible evolutionary scenario of how consciousness could have emerged from the hominid brain. Dennett's audacious, tantalizing foray into the mind's inner workings ties up loose ends at the interface of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and biology. (Oct.)