Book Reviews

Additions to the Bibliography on Mind and Consciousness

compiled by Piero Scaruffi

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Cairns-Smith Graham: GENETIC TAKEOVER (Cambridge University Press, 1982)

Cairns-Smith argues that the first living beings were not carbon composts but metallic crystals, i.e. minerals. Life's ancestors were self-replicating patterns of defects in metallic crystals. One day those patterns started replicating in a different substance, carbon molecules.

Cairns-Smith Graham: EVOLVING THE MIND (Cambridge University Press, 1995)

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Calne Donald: WITHIN REASON (Pantheon, 1999)

The American neurologist Donald Calne contends that reason (mainly located in the frontal lobe) is counterbalanced by other cognitive functions. And reason has a biological limit: we can only comprehend what has been important in our past for our survival.

Calvin Melvin: CHEMICAL EVOLUTION (Clarendon, 1969)

Calvin explores different autocatalytic scenarios for the origin of life which assume life spontaneously bootstrapped itself from simple molecules and don't require any unlikely event to produce very complex molecules.

William Calvin & Derek Bickerton: LINGUA EX MACHINA (MIT Press, 2000)

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Calvin, William: HOW BRAINS THINK (Basic, 1996)

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Calvin William: THE CEREBRAL CODE (MIT Press, 1996)

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Calvin William: THE ASCENT OF MIND (Bantam, 1991)

Calvin looks for the causes of the evolution of the human brain in ice-age climates. The brain got bigger and bigger through a three-part cycle of evolutionary alterations in body proportions which involves a set of genes that regulate fetal and childhood growth.

Calvin William: THE CEREBRAL SYMPHONY (Bantam, 1990)

The brain is a "Darwin machine", a biological system in which pressure to adapt to the environment causes natural selection of population of neurons in such a way that some patterns of the environment will be recognized and appropriate actions performed.

Campbell John: PAST, SPACE AND SELF (MIT Press, 1994)

Campbell examines how human thinking about space and time differs from animals' thinking about space and time (in particular the ability to think about the past). Campbell then examines the consequences on self-consciousness.

Joseph Campbell: PRIMITIVE MYTHOLOGY: THE MASKS OF GOD (Viking, 1959)

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Capra Fritjof: THE TAO OF PHYSICS (Shambala, 1975)

In this book the Austrian physicist Fritjof Capra draws a parallel between modern western Physics and ancient eastern philosophy. The first chapters introduce the essentials of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zen, and the following ones explore similarities between their views of the world and the quantum-relativistic world.

Capra Fritjof: THE WEB OF LIFE (Anchor Books, 1996)

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Carbonell, Jaime: "Machine Learning" (MIT Press, 1989)

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Carlson Richard: EXPERIENCED COGNITION (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997)

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Carroll, Sean: FROM ETERNITY TO HERE (Penguin, 2010)

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Carvalo Marc: NATURE, COGNITION AND SYSTEM (Kluwer Academic, 1988)

A collection of articles on cybernetics applied to the nature of living systems, autopoiesis and self-organization. One of the main themes is that of the "two arrows of time": the second law of thermodynamics pointing towards entropy increase and therefore disorder increase, and evolution pointing the other way by building increasingly complex structures of order.

Cassirer, Ernst: "An Essay on Man" (1944)

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Castaneda Hector-Neri: THINKING, LANGUAGE, EXPERIENCE (University of Minnesota Press, 1989)

The book advances a general semantics of thinking that accounts for the unity of experience: "guise theory". According to its ontological scheme, properties are the building blocks of the world.
Singular reference (reference to individuals insofar as they are thought of individuals) is achieved through a combination of one of four linguistic mechanisms: indexical reference (required for a person to have experience), quasi-indexical reference (required to conceive of other subjects with experience), descriptive reference and reference by proper names. We refer to ourselves and to objects indexically.
Believing and intending partition the class of mental states in two categories, corresponding to contemplative thinking ("propositions") and practical thinking ("practitions").
Proper names are not individuating devices (they are not genuine singular terms, they are free variables of quantification). Proper names have an epistemic role (they are useful to organize beliefs) and a causal role (they allow the retrieval of information).
The individuality of an individual consists in the set of that individual's differences from everything else, the set of differentiating properties. The units of individuation are "guises".
Castaneda emphasized the fundamental indexality of practical thinking (exercized in acts of willing, commanding, advising, etc). Indexical reference is the backbone of perceptual reference. Indexical reference is experiential reference. Therefore, a theory of indexical reference (and a semantics of indicators) depends on a theory of perception.
In order to deal with indexicals and demonstratives, one must appreciate the difference between sense and meaning: the word "I" has the same meaning, no matter who utters it, but different senses, and different references.
Guise theory is a theory of predication. Properties are the ultimate components of the world. Concrete objects (or "guises") are bundles of properties. A concret object is made of the members of a set of properties plus an operator: the operator (sort of the inverse of the abstraction operator) is what turns the properties into a concret object. For each distinct set of properties there is a distinct concrete object that results from the application of the operator on that set. Therefore, "the thing that doesn't exist" is a concrete object, because it is made of a bundle of properties.
When assertions of ordinary discourse are made explicit, properties turn out to be predicated of the guises which constitute the domain. They are predicated either internally (if the property belongs to the core of a guise which is the subject of predication) or externally. In other words, the disguised predications of ordinary discourse are, when made explicit, either internally or externally "guised" depending upon the form of reference to the subject of predication.
An object can stand in a number of relationships to a property: constitution (the property is a member of the core of the object), identity, consubstantiation, consociation, conflation.

Cavalli-Sforza Luigi: GENES, PEOPLES AND LANGUAGES (North Point, 2000)

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Chalmers David: THE CONSCIOUS MIND (Oxford University Press, 1996)

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Chalmers David: "The Character of Consciousness" (Oxford University Press, 2010)

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Changeux JeanPierre: NEURONAL MAN (Pantheon, 1985)

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Changeux JeanPierre: THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TRUTH (Harvard Univ Press, 2007)

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Changeux JeanPierre: ORIGINS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN (Oxford University Press, 1995)

A collection of essays from neurobiologists, anthropologists and psycholigists, covering the anatomy of the brain, genetics, and consciousness/mind.

Charniak Eugene: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMMING (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987)

The second edition of a classic textbook of practical Artificial Inteligence techniques (very LISP-oriented).

Chauvin Yves & Rumelhart David: BACKPROPAGATION (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995)

Theory and practice of the most popular training algorithm for neural networks.

Chierchia Gennaro: DYNAMICS OF MEANING (Univ of Chicago Press, 1995)

A few linguistic phenomena constitute evidence in favor of a view of meaning as "context change", as opposed to the traditional view of meaning as content. Context updating would be an integral part of the compositional system of meaning.
Chierchia proposes a "dynamic binding" theory (based on Montague's intensional logic) as an alternative to classical "discourse representation theory".

Chierchia Gennaro: MEANING AND GRAMMAR (MIT, 1990)

A seminal textbook on semantics.
The empirical domain of semantics is defined according to the linguistic phenomena that a semantic theory is required to account for: entailment (an implication both in terms of truth and information that is conveyed), presupposition (an implication which does not depend on the truth of the premise because the truth of the conclusion is implied in the wording itself of the premise), anaphora (expressions that are connected to previous expressions), ambiguity (lexical, syntactic and scope ambiguity), synonymy (mutual entailment of two expressions), contradiction (a sentence that can never be true because of incompatible entailments), anomaly (a sentence that can never be true because of incompatible presuppositions), appropriateness (in the context).
Theories of meaning include referential or denotational theories (meaning lies in the relations of symbols to what they stand for), psychologistic or mentalistic theories (meaning lies in their mental representation), social or pragmatic theories (meaning lies in the social interaction of agents), but all aspects should contribute to a complete theory of meaning.
Problems with denotation (especially Frege's take on reference and sense) and truth (Tarski's correspondence theory) are introduced. Kripke's and Putnam's causal theory of reference (which assumes a causal link between a word and what it stands for) is sketched.
Chapters are devoted to: how to derive truth conditions of sentences containing quantified expressions; the relation between the meaning of an expression and the meaning of the speaker (as in Grice); speech acts (as in Austin and Searle); intensionality (as in Montague); discoursse analysis (indexicals, contexts, filters, ...); Lambda abstraction; lexical semantics (including thematic roles).

Child William: CAUSALITY, INTERPRETATION AND THE MIND (Oxford University Press, 1994)

The nature of intentional phenomena, such as belief and desire, in a causal theory of the mind.

Chomsky Noam: SYNTACTIC STRUCTURES (Mouton, 1957)

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Chomsky Noam & Halle Morris: THE SOUND PATTERN OF ENGLISH (Harper & Row, 1968)

A classical textbook on generative phonology. Besides detailing the formal structure of a phonological theory, the book tried to define a way in the formal expressions of these processes that would predict which phonological processes were likely and which were not. An evaluation metric ranks rules according to how likely they are to occur (inversely proportional to the number of features needed to express it).

Chomsky Noam: REFLECTIONS ON LANGUAGE (Pantheon, 1975)

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Chomsky Noam: THE LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF LINGUISTIC THEORY (University of Chicago Press, 1975)

A detailed, technical exposition of Chomsky's early linguistic theory.

Chomsky Noam: RULES AND REPRESENTATIONS (Columbia Univ Press, 1980)

Chomsky defends (on philosophical and psychological grounds) his position that grammars are internally represented in the mind and that an initial state of knowledge is shared by all individuals and then developed by social and cultural interactions.


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Chomsky Noam: KNOWLEDGE OF LANGUAGE (Greenwood, 1986)

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Chomsky Noam: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT (Moyer Bell, 1993)

A lecture and a discussion. Inessetial.


Collects various essays in which Chomsky criticizes Putnam's externalism, Quine's holism, etc. Inessential.

Church Alonso: CALCULI OF LAMBDA CONVERSION (Princeton Univ Press, 1941)

Church's intuition was that of determining a way to compare two functions. A function can be defined either "intensionally", as the computational procedure that computes its value, or "extensionally", as the set of input/output correspondences. Two functions can be compared in either of the two fashions. To compare them "intensionally", Church created the "lambda" abstraction, which provides rules to transform any function in a canonical form.

Churchland Paul: SCIENTIFIC REALISM AND THE PLASTICITY OF MIND (Cambridge Univ Press, 1979)

The meaning of our common observations is determined not by sensations but by a network of common beliefs.
Churchland's attitute towards meaning is as holistic as Quine's, but Churchland interprets Quine's network of meanings as a space of semantic states, whose dimensions are all observable properties. Each expression in the language is equivalent to defining the position of a concept within this space according to the properties that the concept exhibits in that expression. The semantic value of a word derives from its place in the network of the language as a whole.
The brain performs computations on such representations by means of coordinate transformations from one state space to another.
Translation is a mapping that preserves semantic importance, that finds an intensional structure in the target language that is isomorph with the intensional structure of the source language. Unlike Quine, Churchland thinks that translation is possible as long as the two languages have isomorphic intensional structures.

Churchland, Paul: MATTER AND CONSCIOUSNESS (MIT Press, 1984)

A beginner's level introduction to the topic.
Churchland outlines the main areas of research: what is the nature of mental states and processes (the ontological problem, or the body-mind problem), where do psychological terms get their meaning (the semantical problem), are other people conscious and why can we only perceive our own consciousness (the epistemological problem), what disciplines are relevant to the study of consciousness (the methodological problem).
Churchland provides an excellent introduction to philosophy of mind and its numerous schools: substance dualism (the mind is different substance from the brain), property dualism (the mind is the same substance as the brain, but comes from a class of properties that are esclusive of the brain), materialism (one kind of substance, one class of properties), identity theory (mental states are physical states of the brain) and functionalism (a mental state is defined uniquely by the causal relation it bears over behavior and other mental states).
The semantic problem can be solved assuming that the meaning of a psychological term comes either from inner ostension, operational definition or its place in a network of laws.
Churchland briefly touches on artificial intelligence. It introduces concepts of neural processing in a computational manner and identifies "vector processing" as the preferred computational system in the brain.
Contrary to the title, the book does not deal with consciousness.

Churchland Patricia: NEUROPHILOSOPHY (MIT Press, 1986)

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Churchland Patricia: "Touching a Nerve" (Norton, 2013)

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Churchland Paul: ENGINE OF REASON (MIT Press, 1995)

The book provides detailed description of how the brain perceives sensory input (in particular vision) and relates the findings to artificial neural networks.
The emphasis is on the power of sensory representation through vector coding. Feedforward nets cannot represent time. The solution is vector processing plus recurrent manipulation (past activity available for current processing) plus prototype activation plus prototype evaluation.
First, he proves that consciousness must be based on a recurrent network. Then he advances Llina's 40 Hz oscillation in the cortex as the basis for a brainwide recurrent network. A brainwide recurrent network unifies the distinct senses in one consciousness.
Consciousness does not require language. Nonlinguistic animals are conscious too. Consciousness is biological, not social: its contents are social, such as language.
Language creates a collective cognition, a collective memory and intelligence.
It also briefly surveys different takes on consciousness (Nagel, Jackson, Searle).
Intelligence is a high-dimensional vector, not a one-dimensional magnitude.
He personally believes that (parallel, not serial) neuromachines will eventually achieve consciousness. The Turing test is too strong: children can't answer a lot of questions.

Churchland Paul & Churchland Patricia: ON THE CONTRARY (MIT Press, 1998)

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Churchman Charles: THE DESIGN OF INQUIRING SYSTEMS (Basic, 1971)

Churchman thinks that mental development occurs as construction of mental models. He identifies five "inquiring systems" (systems to acquire knowledge): Leibniz's, or deductive; Locke's, or inductive; Kant's, or analogical; Hegel's, or dialectical (build hypotheses that are antithetical to the previous models); and Singer's metrological (that can control the previous four).

Clancey William: SITUATED COGNITION (Cambridge Univ Press, 1997)

Clancey focuses on the program of building intelligent robots. In the tradition of Richard Brooks, such robots need more than a simple representation of the environment ("the map is not the territory"), they need "situated cognition". Clancey reviews robots built over the years by the A.I. community as well as Gibson's ecological theory, Edelman's neural darwinism and Maturana's autopoiesis. They all point towards a vision of structural coupling of the organism with the environment, which translates into structural coupling of action and perception. Clancey envisions "transactional systems" which are not sets of interacting components but "wholes".

Clark, Andy: MINDWARE (Oxford Univ Press, 2000)

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Clark Andy: Natural-born Cyborgs (Oxford Univ Press, 2003)

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Clark Andy: BEING THERE (MIT Press, 1997)

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Clark Andy: MICROCOGNITION (MIT Press, 1989)

The book provides a reasoned critique to artificial intelligence and cognitive science and a defence of parallel distributed processing. Clark finds clues in general considerations on biological systems, that fit well in the parallel distributed model. Evolved creatures do not store information in a costly way when they can use the structure of the environment for the same purposes. Complex biological systems have evolved subject to the constraints of gradualistic holism: the evolution of a complex system is possible only insofar as that system is the last or latest link in a chain of structures, such that at each stage the chain involves only a small change (gradualism) and each stage yields a structure that is itself a viable whole (holism).
Folk-psychological phenomena that do not seem to lend themselves to a connectionist explanation should be approached with a mixed model, that still uses the symbolic-processor model but always on top of a parallel distributed one.

Clark, Andy: ASSOCIATIVE ENGINES (MIT Press, 1993)

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Cleeremans, Axel: THE UNITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Oxford University Press, 2003)

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Close, Frank: "Nothing" (Oxford University Press, 2009)

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Cohen Fred: IT'S ALIVE (Wiley, 1994)

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Cohen Jonathan & Schooler Jonathan: SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES TO CONSCIOUSNESS (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996)

An interdisciplinary overview of studies on consciousness.

Cohen Jack & Steward Ian: THE COLLAPSE OF CHAOS (Viking, 1994)

The theme of the book is how the regularities of nature emerge from the underlying chaos and complexity of nature: "emergent simplicities collapse chaos". The first part introduces scientific themes of cosmology, quantum theory, biological evolution and psychology. Consciousness and life are described as "systems of interactive behavior".
Then the book emphasizes that external constraints are fundamental in shaping biological systems (DNA does not uniquely determine an organism) and new concepts are defined: "simplexity" (the tendency of simple rules to emerge from underlying disorder and complexity) and "complicity" (the tendency of interacting systems to coevolve leading to a growth of complexity). Simplexity is a "weak" form of emergence, and is ubiquitous. Complicity is a strongere form of emergence, and is responsible for consciousness and evolution. Emergence is the rule, not the exception, and it is shaped by simplexity and complicity. A science of emergence is proposed as an alternative to traditional, reductionist, science.
A wealth of biological themes are touched upon along the way, from Darwin's natural selection to Dawkins' selfish gene, from Gould's contingency to DNA, not to mention mathematical subjects, from fractals to information theory.

Collins Alan: THEORIES OF MEMORY (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1993)

A collection of papers from cognitive psychologists, ranging from Baddeley ("working memory and conscious awareness"), D. Schacter, Susan Gathercole, William Hirst, Lawrence Barsalou.

Comrie Bernard: LANGUAGE UNIVERSALS AND LINGUISTIC TYPOLOGY (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1981)

Comrie proposes a catalog of universal properties that seem to hold for all known languages.

Conrad Michael: ADAPTABILITY (Plenum, 1983)

Conrad's "statistical state model" of the evolutionary process distinguishes between adaptedness (fixed adapations) and adaptability (response to the environment's fluctuations). Adaptability is adaptedness to an ensemble of environments and can be decomposed into anticipation (uncertainty of behavior of the system which is used to dissipate environmental fluctuations) and indifference (uncertainty of the environment that the system incorporates into its behavior). The maximum total modifiability (uncertainty) of a system approaches over time the average uncertainty of its environment. Conrad then defines formally the maximum total modifiability of a system An increase in uncertainty at one level of organization is compensated by changes in adaptability at some level. Levels compensate for each other's fluctuations.

Peter Corning: "Nature's Magic" (Cambridge Univ Press, 2003)

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Corriveau Jean-Pierre: TIME-CONSTRAINED MEMORY (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995)

A theory of grounded cognition that accounts for the diachronic (over time a text may be interpreted in different ways by the same reader) and non-deterministic (a text may or may be not interpreted by a reader) nature of comprehension. Linguistic comprehension is viewed as a time-constrained process. Rules for linguistic comprehension can be implemented by simple "knowledge units" that work in a very constrained amount of time.

Tooby John and Cosmides Leda: THE ADAPTED MIND (Oxford Univ Press, 1992)

Evolutionary psychologists proponents of the Standard Social Sciences Model believe that culture shapes human behavior notwithstanding biological pressures.

Coveney Peter: FRONTIERS OF COMPLEXITY (Fawcett, 1995)

An accessible introduction to theories of nonlinear systems.

Cowan Nelson: ATTENTION AND MEMORY (Oxford University Press, 1995)

Cowan puts forth a theory of memory that discriminates between memory processes operating within and outside the focus of attention. At any time the focus of attention comprises only a subset of the information that is currently activated. In this model the role of attentional filter is played by habituation of orienting, rather than by the filter of Broadbent's model.
Memory and attention are closely integrated. Memory is driven by a number of processes (encoding, activation, decay, retention, reactivation, context-dependent retrieval), but all of them are affected by attention. Automatic processes cannot achieve: a more complete encoding of the stimuli; longer-lasting activation; a more conscious retrieval process.
Short-term memory can be viewed as a hierarchical structure consisting of all the activated portion of memory plus the portion that is the focus of attention.
One of the key aspects of long-term memory is the distinction between memory stored and retrieved automatically versus memory stored and retrieved with the benefit of the attentional system. Consciousness is but the phenomenological counterpart of attention.
Drawing from a vast literature, Cowan also tries to map neural processes into hiw own psychological model of memory (e.g., attention-related long-term memory may be stored with the help of the hippocampus, the focus of attention may be located in the parietal lobe, etc).
Following Kissin, Cowan distinguishes three levels of consciousness: basic alertness (mediated by signals showering the entire cortex); general awareness (produced by neural circuits including the thalamus); and self-awareness (possibly from the integration of signals from various association areas).
The book is full of reference to contemporary research and can also serve as a guide to psychological and neurophysiological research projects in the field of memory.

Cowie, Fiona: WHAT'S WITHIN (Oxford Univ Press, 1998)

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Cox Richard: THE ALGEBRA OF PROBABLE INFERENCE (John Hopkins Press, 1961)

Unlike Savage, who built his theory of probabilities on pragmatic arguments regarding decision making, Cox attempted to develop a theory of probabilistic inference founded on axiomatic principles. His axioms refer only to abstract entities such as "evidence" and "belief". Any phenomenon that can be expressed by means of Cox's axioms can be reduced to probabilistic calculus. Cox attributes nonfrequentist but objective interpretations to prior probabilities.

Craik Kenneth: THE NATURE OF EXPLANATION (Cambridge Univ Press, 1943)

Craik was one of the first visionaries to posit that the human brain can be considered as a particular type of machine which is able to build internal models of the world, and process them to produce action. Craik's improvement over Descartes' automaton (limited to mechanical reactions to external stimula) was considerable because it involved the idea of an "internal representation" and a "symbolic processing" of such representation. Descartes' automaton had no need for knowledge and inference. Craik's automaton needs knowledge and inference and the processing of knowledge is what yields intelligence. Craik's ideas predate the theory of knowledge-based systems, Fodor's mentalese and Johnson-Laird's models.

Crick Francis: LIFE ITSELF (Simon & Schuster, 1981)

Crick examines the story of life on planet Earth and draws a few unusual conclusions.
The mind came into the picture quite late in the evolutionary process. If mind is unique to humans, then a tiny change in the evolutionary chain could have resulted in no humans, and therefore no mind. Mind does not look like a momentous episode, but as a mere accident.
Natural selection has the function of making unlikely events very common.

Crick Francis: ASTONISHING HYPOTHESIS (MacMillan, 1993)

The British biochemist and Nobel laureate Francis Crick summarizes recent developments in neurobiology, particularly in the area of visual awareness. and speculates that synchronized firing in the range of 40 Hertz in the areas connecting the thalamus and the cortex might explain consciousness.
The "astonishing hypothesis" is that consciousness can be explained by science, by reducing it to brain processes.

Cronin Helena: "The Ant and the Peacock" (Cambridge University Press,1992)

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Crowder Robert: PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING AND MEMORY (Erlbaum, 1976)

A comprehensive manual of research on learning and memory. Crowder presents findings and theories about iconic memory (pre-categorial storage), encodindg in memory (vision, audition and speech), the working of short-term memory, nonverbal memory (eidetic imagery), primary memory (consciousness), forgetting, processes of learning and retrieval. Hundreds of studies are mentioned and reviewed.

Culbertson James: THE MINDS OF ROBOTS (University of Illinois Press, 1963)

This is the book that introduced "spacetime reductive materialism", according to which consciousness permeates nature, everything is conscious to a degree, and therefore it is possible to build conscious robots.

Culbertson James: SENSATIONS MEMORIES AND THE FLOW OF TIME (Cromwell Press, 1976)

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Cziko Gary: WITHOUT MIRACLES (MIT Press, 1995)

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Cziko Gary: THE THINGS WE DO (MIT Press, 2000)

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