Book Reviews

Additions to the Bibliography on Mind and Consciousness

compiled by Piero Scaruffi

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Earman John: A PRIMER ON DETERMINISM (Reidel, 1986)

Relativity enables Earman's brand of determinism (based on the notion of possible worlds), by overtaking the flaws of Newton's Physics (weakened by infinite speed of light signals). Earman explores the relationship between determinism and Turing's effective computability: Turing's ends up being just a special case of the effective computability entailed by determinism. Earman deals with randomness and chaos, free will, quantum indeterminism. Mental events must be physical because any event that occurs in space and time is physical.

Eccles John: EVOLUTION OF THE BRAIN (Routledge, 1989)

The book offers a history of human evolution, of the evolution of the hominid brain, of the evolution of speech production, of evolution of visual skills, of evolution of learning and memory. A key role is assigned to the limbic system and, in general, to the latest evolutionary additions to the human brain, the cerebral neocortex.
Then Eccles delves into a study of the evolution of consciousness. Drawing from Margenau, Eccles argues that the mind-brain interaction is analogous to a probability field of quantum mechanics. Mental "energy" can cause neural events by a process analogous to the way a probability field causes action. He calls "psychon" the mental unit that transmit mental intentions to the neural units.
From a detailed analysis of the cerebral neocortex, Eccles derives that cerebral asymmetry is a fundamental property of the human brain, that the self is unique to the left hemisphere, and that the neo-neocortex is the site of gnostic functions. Consciousness resides in a psycological world that transcends the physical. The soul is a separated entity from the body, and is created by God.

Eccles John: THE SELF AND ITS BRAIN (Springer, 1994)

The anti-materialist view of this book focuses on a spiritual self that is capable of controlling the materic brain and bringing about voluntary movement.

Edelman Gerald: NEURAL DARWINISM (Basic, 1987)

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Edelman Gerald: TOPOBIOLOGY (Basic, 1988)

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Edelman Gerald: THE REMEMBERED PRESENT (Basic, 1989)

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Edelman Gerald: BRIGHT AIR BRILLIANT FIRE (Basic, 1992)

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Edelman Gerald & Tononi Giulio: A UNIVERSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Basic, 2000)

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Edelman Gerald: WIDER THAN THE SKY (Yale University Press, 2004)

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Eigen Manfred & Schuster Peter: THE HYPERCYCLE (Springer Verlag, 1979)

The origin of life from inorganic matter is due to emergent processes of self-organization.
Hypercycles are a class of nonlinear reaction networks that can originate spontaneously within the population of a species through natural selection and naturally evolve to higher complexity by allowing for the coherent evolution of a set of functionally coupled self-replicating entities. Natural selection itself is inevitable: given a set of self-reproducing entities that feed on a common and limited source of energetic/material supply, natural selection will spontaneously appear.
A hypercycle is based on nonlinear autocatalysis (reproduction cycles which are linked by cyclic catalysis, i.e. by another autocatalysis). A hypercycle is therefore the next higher level in the hierarchy of autocatalytic systems.
The second part of the book analyses the behavior and mathematical properties of hypercycles.
The model explains the simultaneous unity (due to the use of a universal genetic code) and diversity (due to the "trial and error" approach of natural selection) in evolution. This dual process started even before life was created. Evolution of species was preceded by an analogous stepwise process of molecular evolution.
Systems can be classified in four groups according to their stability with respect to fluctuations: stable systems (the fluctuations are self-regulating), indifferent systems (the fluctuations have no effect), unstable systems (self-amplification of the fluctuations) and variable systems (the system can show either regulation, indifference or amplification of fluctuations). Only the last type (indifference towards a broad mutant spectrum, stability towards selective advantages and instability towards unfavorable configurations) is suitable for generation of biological information. Selection is a mathematical consequence of the dynamics of self-reproducing systems of this kind.
Eigen's experiments with RNA proved that under suitable conditions a solution of nucleotides give rise spontaneously to a molecule that replicates, mutates and competes with its progeny for survival. The replication of RNA appears to be the fundamental event around which the rest of biology developed. First genes were created, then proteins, then cells. Cells simply provide physical cohesion.

Eichenbaum, Howard: COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE OF MEMORY (Oxford Univ Press, 2002)

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Eigen, Manfred: STEPS TOWARDS LIFE (Oxford University Press, 1992)

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Engelmore Robert: BLACKBOARD SYSTEMS (Academic Press, 1988)

All the historical papers on the subject, from Barbara Hayes-Roth to Nii. Opportunistic planning was first used in the HEARSAY system in the mid Seventies, then formalized in 1979 by Frederick and Barbara Hayes-Roth ("A cognitive model of planning").
Hayes-Roth's opportunistic and incremental model of reasoning contemplates many independent agents cooperating to find the solution to a problem. Each specialized agent is triggered by information written by other agents on a blackboard and each agent can in turn write information for other agents on that blackboard.
The system keeps two agendas, one for the actions it "wishes" to perform (those that at least one agent needs to continue its reasoning) and one for the actions that it "can" perform (those whose preconditions have been satisfied). By matching necessary and possible actions the system determines which agents are active at any time. The computational advantage of this model of inference is that only actions that are relevant to the solution of the problem are taken into consideration.

Elman, Jeffrey et al: RETHINKING INNATENESS (MIT Press, 1996)

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Epstein Richard: SEMANTIC FOUNDATIONS OF LOGIC (Kluwer Academic, 1990)

A general introduction to the most popular varieties of propositional logics. Epstein sets himself to defining his "relatedness logic", a logic which takes into account the subject matter of propositions, and "dependency logic", which, similarly, focuses on the referential content of a proposition.
A broad coverage of modal logics (and Kripke's semantics), intuitionism (Brouwer's manifestos, Heyting's formalization and Kripke's semantics), many-valued logics (Lukasiewicz, Post, Kleene) is also provided.


A vast, technical introduction to predicate logic, semantics, identity, quantifiers, descriptive names, functions, second-order logic.


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Estes William: CLASSIFICATION AND COGNITION (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Estes offers a psychological theory of memory organization based on categorization. Estes distinguishes classification (partitioning a set of objects in a set of groups) and categorization (partitioning plus each category implies a set of properties for its members). After an historical overview, Estes advances his core model, a combination of an array framework (in which memory interfaces with perception by means of a mechanism based on similarity and in which the association between memory and action varies according to a learning mechanism) and the product rule (by which similarity of two patterns is computed as a product of the differences between each pair of corresponding features of the two patterns). Basically, Estes adopts both a storage-retrieval model and an adaptive network model, thereby marrying cognitive psychology and connectionism.
A system of categorization based on the product rule differs considerably from prototype-based systems such as Rosch's.
Estes' model is based on empirical data and provides a rigorous mathematical formulation.

Eysenck Michael: DICTIONARY OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (Blackwell, 1994)

Organized in 140 articles by specialists in cognitive psychology.

Eysenck Michael: PRINCIPLES OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1993)

A short introduction to the field.

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