Book Reviews

Additions to the Bibliography on Mind and Consciousness

compiled by Piero Scaruffi

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Farthing William: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Prentice Hall, 1992)

The American psychologist William Farthing has written a comprehensive manual on theories of mind for use by psychologists. It provides a very concise overview of the mind-body debate and then in-depth overviews of work on several topics, including split-brain research, nonconscious mental life, daydreaming, stream of consciousness, altered states, sleep, dreaming, hypnosis, meditation, and psychedelic drugs. It provides a wealth of psychological data, mainly drawn from mental and sleep disorders.

Fauconnier Gilles: MENTAL SPACES (MIT Press, 1994)

A revised edition of the 1985 cognitive linguistics classic that described how discourse constructs mental spaces. "The mind creates multiple cognitive spaces to mediate its understanding of relations and activities in the world, and to engage in creative thought."
Mental spaces are domains that are built by the hearer as she listens to a speech. They are interconnected and consist of elements, roles, strategies and relations between them. Fauconnier applies the theory to presuppositions and counterfactuals. The mind creates multiple cognitive spaces to mediate its understanding of relations and activities in the world, and to engage in creative thought.
Mental spaces are constructed based on a number of principles, such as to avoid contradictions within a space. Mental spaces are similar to Kripke's possible worlds in that they represent "possible" situations and two mental spaces can represent two alternative situations. Mental spaces can account for referential opacity and propositional attitudes.

Fauconnier Gilles & Eve Sweetser: SPACES, WORLDS, AND GRAMMAR (Univ of Chicago Press, 1996)

The book contains twelve very technical papers that show how Fauconnier's theory solves specific linguistic problems.
Fauconnier's focus is the interaction between grammar and cognition, which translated into the interaction between syntax/semantics and mental spaces. emphasize the importance of context, which can yield "meaning for free". The mind is capable of making connections between domains and Fauconnier investigates the kinds of cognitive connections that are possible: pragmatic functions (such as that between an author and her book), metonymy, metaphor, analogy, etc. Some domains are therefore cognitively accessible from others.
They reflect in primis the organization of thought itself. A basic tenet of Fauconnier's theory is that linguistic structure reflects not the structure of the world but the structure of our cognitive life.
His theory studies the regularities in the relationship between semantics and cognition. The idea is that, as the speaker utters one sentence after the other, she is in fact constructing mental spaces and the links among them, resulting in a network of mental spaces. Fauconnier's theory provides the abstract tools ("accessing", "spreading" and "viewpoint") for the dynamics of mental space construction and linking. Mental spaces, in particular, facilitate reasoning: while logic-based semantics (logical form, Montague's, situation semantics) assume that language provides a meaning that can be used for reasoning, Fauconnier assumes that language builds the same kind of mental spaces from the most basic level of meaning construction all the way up to discourse and reasoning.

Fauconnier Gilles: MAPPINGS IN THOUGHT AND LANGUAGE (Cambridge Univ Press, 1997)

Further investigations in the realm of meaning and language (tense, counterfactuals, etc) within the model of mental spaces.
Mental spaces proliferate as we think or talk. Fauconnier emphasizes the central role played by the mappings that link mental spaces, in particular analogical mappings.
"Conceptual blending" is a cognitive process which can be recognized in many different cognitive, cultural and social activities. By merging different inputs, it creates a blended mental space whose emergent structure can be used creatively.
Fauconnier finds that the same principles that operate at the level of meaning construction operate also at the level of scientific and artistic action.
Lakoff has given mental spaces an internal structure with his theory of "cognitive models".

Feigenbaum Edward: COMPUTERS AND THOUGHT (MIT Press, 1995)

A collection of articles by Turing, Newell, Simon, Minsky, Feigenbaum, etc.

Feigl Herbert: THE MENTAL AND THE PHYSICAL (Univ of Minnesota Press, 1967)

In this 1957 essay Feigl argues in favor of the class identity theory of the mind. Physical and mental terms may have different senses but identical referents: mental states may refer exactly to the same states as do physical states, even if they describe the states in a completely different manner. Mental idioms and physical idioms are different descriptions of the same states. Mental states and physical states have the same extension but different intension: they describe the same states, but in a different way.
In the postscript to the second edition Feigl rejected his original theory and opted for eliminativism: there is no evidence of a relation between mental and physical states, and only the physical (neuroscientific) language should be employed in discussing people's feelings.


A collection of philosophical articles on machine intelligence, notably Fetzer's own introduction to the theory of semiotic systems. Newell's and Simon's hypothesis of the mind as a symbol processing system can be extended by considering the mind as a semiotic system, i.e. sign processing systems. Fetzer thinks that symbol systems simulate mental processes that semiotic systems replicate.

Fetzer James: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (Kluwer, 1990)

Fetzer thinks that the standard model of Artificial Intelligence, that views minds as symbol processing systems, is fundamentally flawed, because minds are semiotic systems. Fetzer introduces to the theory of semiotic systems. The notions of semantic networks, frames, scripts are reviewed in the philosophical context of a theory of knowledge, belief and action.

Fetzer James: EPISTEMOLOGY AND COGNITION (Kluwer, 1991)

A collection of philosophical papers (mainly critiques) that deal with Fodor's computational theory of the mind, connectionism, scripts, frames and so forth.

Fillmore, Charles: Form and Meaning in Language (Univ Press Chicago, 2002)

The book collects papers by Charles Fillmore, including "The Case for Case".


A survey of psychological findings about mental imageries. Finke identifies five principles of equivalence between a mental imagery and the perceived object: the principle of implicit encoding (informatin about the properties of an object can be retrieved from its mental image), the principle of spatial equivalence (parts of a mental image are arranged in a way that corresponds to the way that the parts of the physical object are arranged), the principle of perceptual equivalence (similar processes are activated in the brain when the objects are imagined as when they are perceived), the principle of transformational equivalence (imagined transformations and physical transformations are governed by the same laws of motion), the principle of structural equivalence (the mental imagery exhibits structural features corresponding to those of the perceived object such that the relations between the object's parts can be both preserved and interpreted).

Finke Ronald: CREATIVE IMAGERY (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990)

A book devoted to the psychological phenomenon that people can detect emergent patterns in imagery even if they were not aware of them when the image was formed. Most of these recognitions occur only when people inspect their images.

Finke Ronald: CREATIVE COGNITION (MIT Press, 1992)

A study of creativity in terms of the cognitive processes and structures that make it possible. The model includes a generative phase, in which mental representations (or "preinventive" structures) that promote creative discovery, and an exploratory phase, in which they are interpreted in meaningful ways.

Gary Fireman, Ted McVay and Owen Flanagan: NARRATIVE AND CONSCIOUSNESS (Oxford Univ Press, 2003)

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Seminal work that highlighted how genes from the parents are reshuffled in each new generation. Fisher used sophisticated mathematics in dealing with evolution, thereby providing a scientific account of how a distribution of genes in a population will change as a result of natural selection.
Fisher erred in thinking about the evolution of the single gene, neglecting the influence of all the other genes, and in assuming that evolution was a process of achieving stable equilibrium. But Fisher showed that Darwinian natural selection requires Mendelian inheritance in order to be effective.

Flanagan Owen: DREAMING SOULS (Oxford Univ Press, 2000)

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Flanagan's book is a technical introduction to the philosophical issues concerning consciousness: neurobiological models of the brain, qualia, the distinction of self and nonself, identity, etc. It reviews and criticizes contemporary and ancient theories of the mind. Consciousness is a natural phenomenon that can be explained by science. Consciousness is a heterogeneous set of processes, not a substance or an object. There is no real "self": the self emerges as a product of those processes occurring in the same physical body.

Flanagan Owen: THE SCIENCE OF THE MIND (MIT Press, 1991)

Descartes' dualism violates the principle of conservation of energy. William James' work is the first formulation of the naturalistic position in the philosophy of mind: the mental is physical, although it cannot be explained by mechanical laws, and it has an evolutionary purpose; consciousness is not an entity, but a function. Flanagan reviews Freud's psychoanalysis, Skinner's behaviorism, Piaget's and Kohlberg's theories of cognitive development, the main themes of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, and Wilson's sociobiology.
Consciousness is an heterogeneous set of processes which have in common the property of being felt. Flanagan does not believe in "one" consciousness, but in a group of "conscious" phenomena. Some of the processes of our body are unconscious and non perceived (the heartbeat), some are unconscious but perceived by other processes (sensors), and some are conscious, perceived by themselves.


A review of phenomena related to consciousness, from qualia to multiple personalities.

Flood Raymond & Lockwood Michael: NATURE OF TIME (Basil Blackwell, 1986)

A collection of essays about the arrow of time (time's inherent directionality, in spite of the apparent symmetricity of the fundamental laws of nature) and the second law of thermodynamics (the only law of nature which is not symmetric).
Penrose's "Big bangs, black holes and time's arrow" deals with the apparent contradiction of increasing entropy in an universe that started in a state of maximum entropy (thermal equilibrium before the big bang) and in an universe whose fundamental laws are all symmetric.
Paul Davies relates the direction of time to the quantum collapse of the wave function. Davies also suggests that the mind-body problem may be related to quantum mechanics' dualism between waves and particles, as the mind's role (of information encoding and processing) is similar to the wave's role.
Dummett's "Causal loops" refutes all arguments against the possibility that we can influence our past.

Fodor Jerry: CONCEPTS (Oxford Univ Press, 1998)

Fodor summarizes the representational theory of mind in a finite number of theses: 1. Psychological explanation is nomic (has to do with mental states); 2. Mental representations are the primitive bearers of intentional content; 3. Thinking is computation; 4. Meaning is information.
Claiming that concepts are not definitions, Fodor attacks the popular view that the concepts in the definition of a concept are the constituents of that concept.
He then attacks both the compositional theory of concepts and the prototype theory of concepts. Fodor is convinced that inferential role semantics is a dead end, and only reluctantly accepts informational atomism.

Fodor, Jerry: THE MIND DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY (MIT Press, 2000)

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Fodor Jerry: LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT (Crowell, 1975)

Fodor's computational theory of the mind views the mind as a special symbolic processor. Propositional attitudes can be explained by assigning a symbolic memory to each possible attitude (hope, desire, fear, etc) and and each symbol to one of the possible propositions. A proposition in an attitude constitutes a propositional attitude. Each symbol is a "mental representation" and the mind is endowed with a set of rules to operate on such representations. Cognitive life is the transformation of those rules. Mental representations constitute a language of thought, "mentalese".
Evidence of an internal language in the mind comes from rational behavior (the ability to compute the consequences of an action), concept learning (the ability to form and verify hypotheses) and perception (the ability to recognize an object or an event). These phenomena would not be possible if the agent was not able to represent to itself the elements of the problem.
Such language cannot be one of the languages we speak because the very ability to speak requires the existence of an internal language of representation.
But the language of thought exhibits features that are shared by human languages: productivity (ability of understanding and producing propositions from an infinite set by using recursive operations over finite resources), systematicity (a physical relation between mental representations so that one can yield others), coherence (ability to make syntactically and semantically plausible inferences).
The mind processes symbols without knowing what those symbols mean, in a purely syntactic fashion. Behavior is due only to the internal structures of the mind.
All knowledge is represented syntactically.

Fodor Jerry: REPRESENTATIONS (MIT Press, 1981)

A collection of philosophical essays on the representational theory of the mind.
Fodor looks for an explanation of how propositional attitudes can have semantic properties. Propositional attitudes are relations (between an agent and a state of the world). Among the relata are mental representations. Mental representations are symbols, endowed with both syntactic and semantic properties. They possess their causal role in virtue of their syntactic properties. Propositional attitudes inherit their semantic properties from the mental representations that function as their objects.

Fodor Jerry: MODULARITY OF THE MIND (MIT Press, 1983)

Fodor advances a theory of the mind that exsumes Gall's view of vertical faculties. Cognitive faculties can be divided in vertical faculties (which are domain-specific, genetically determined, computationally autonomous and associated with distinct neural structures) and horizontal faculties. Modular cognitive systems are vertical faculties. systems of input analysis and systems that subserve the fixation of belief.

Fodor Jerry: A THEORY OF CONTENT (MIT Press, 1990)

A collection of papers on Fodor's theory of mental content.
Fodor speculates that there exist two types of meaning. Fodor discriminates between "narrow content" and "broad content" of a mental representation: the former is a semantic representation, is purely mental and does not depend on anything else; the latter is a function that yields the referent in every possible world, and depends on the external world.
Meaning is the ordered set of narrow and broad contents. Narrow content is a conceptual role. As in Sellars, a role is a purely syntactic property, as they occur in formal systems.
Fodor claims that there is no type identity but only instance identity. Mental instances that constitute a mental class can be used by neural events which do not form a neural class.

Fodor Jerry & Lepore Ernest: HOLISM (Basil Blackwell, 1992)

The book is a critical survey of the theory that only whole languages or whole belief systems really have meanings; and the meanings of smaller units are merely derivative. Each chapter attacks the thinking of an influential philosopher: Quine, Davidson, Lewis, Dennett, Block and Churchland.
Fodor's "rational fixation" of beliefs is a non-demonstrative process that employs analogy and induction.

Fodor Jerry: THE ELM AND THE EXPERT (MIT Press, 1994)

A lively introduction to the issues of the mental language plus a critique of the critique of his theory. His opponents' claim that referential semantics cannot provide a robust theory of intentional explanation is rebuffed by positing that psychological laws are intentional, psychological processes are computational and the semantic properties of mental representations are referential (semantics is purely informational).

Forbus Kenneth & DeKleer Johan: BUILDING PROBLEM SOLVERS (MIT Press, 1993)

A textbook that focuses on truth maintenance systems.

Forrest Stephanie: EMERGENT COMPUTATION (MIT Press, 1991)

A collection of papers on the topic of emergent computation. Most papers assume that physical systems exist that can support computation, and analyze under which conditions computational processes may come to be spontaneously.
Emergent computation is to standard computation what nonlinear systems are to linear systems: it deals with systems whose parts interact in a nontrivial way.
Chris Langton presents his theory of computation ad the edge of chaos: physical systems achieve the prerequisites for the emergence of computation (i.e., transmission, storage, modification) in the vicinity of a phase transition. Specifically, information becomes an important factor in the dynamics of cellular automata in the vicinity of the phase transition between periodic and chaotic behavior. In that neighborhood, information can propagate over long distances without decaying appreciably, thereby allowing for long-range correlation in behavior (ordered configurations do not allow for information to propagate at all, and disordered configurations cause information to quickly decay into random noise). This conclusion is consistent with Von Neumann's findings. A fundamental connection is therefore displayed between computation and phase transition.
Kauffman debates orderly dynamics and frozen components as requirements for the evolvability of complex systems. He also notes how nonlinear dynamical systems which interact with the external world classify and know their world through their attractors.
Holland, as well as Forrest, looks at emergent computation in classifier systems. Hillis proves that co-evolving parasites help improve evolution.
A number of papers deal with connectionism. Daniel Greening surveys a variety of parallel simulated annealing techniques. Churchland views explanatory understanding, perceptual recognition and abductive inference as different instances of prototype activation.

Fox Ronald: ENERGY AND THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE (John Wiley, 1982)

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Franklin Stan: ARTIFICIAL MINDS (MIT Press, 1995)

An excellent interdisciplinary survey of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, artificial life, neurobiology. Franklin presents recent theories of the mind by Chalmers, Sloman, Griffin, Minsky, Ornstein; describes the SOAR cognitive architecture, Brooks' subsumption architectures, Brustoloni's autonomous agents, Drescher's schemata, Kanerva's sparse distributed memory, Edelman's neural darwinism, Maturana's autopoiesis. discusses Dreyfus' and Penrose's critiques of artificial intelligence; introduces the theory of dynamic systems.

Freeman Walter: MASS ACTION IN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM (Academic Press, 1975)

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Freeman Walter: SOCIETIES OF BRAINS (Erlbaum, 1995)

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Frith, Chris & Wolpert, Daniel: THE NEUROSCIENCE OF SOCIAL INTERACTION (Oxford University Press, 2003)

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A comprehensive introduction on how we can build systems that are capable of storing and processing complex pieces of knowledge. Notions and techniques from database technology, formal logic, expert systems research and advances in natural language (each of which are discussed at length in a very scientific manner) are linked to yield the foundations of a complete and unified theory of knowledge representation.
Frost covers many-sorted logics, non-monotonic logic, many-valued logics (including fuzzy logic), modal logics (alethic, deontic, epistemic), the main variants of temporal logic, the theory of types, Montague's intensional logic and theories of uncertainty (probability, possibility, plausibility)
Then Frost delves into knowledge representation techniques: production rules, semantic networks, frames, scripts and formalizes the types of inference that they enable.
Functional language is described, with emphasis on the Lambda calculus,
Throughout the book a rigorous mathematical notation is employed.

Fuller Buckminster: COSMOGRAPHY ( Macmillan, 1992)

A posthumous scenario for the future of humanity.


A monumental and visionary work that diverges sharply from orthodox science. "Synergy" is the behavior of a whole that cannot be explained by the parts taken separately. Synergetics is a discipline that employs 60-degree coordination instead of the usual 90-degree coordination and that studies system in a holistic (rather than reductionistic) way. Synergetics is a variation on geometrics, the discipline of configurations (or patterns). the triangle (and tetrahedron) instead of the square (and the cube).
Synergetics rediscovers most of traditional science, but mainly through topological considerations (with traditional topology (extended to "omnitopology"). For example, synergetics proves that the universe is finite and expanding, and that Planck's constant is a "cosmic relationship".
Reality is not made of "things", but of angle and frequency events. All experience can be reduced to only angles and frequencies. "Universe" is the collection of all experiences of all individuals. All systems contained in the universe are polyhedra. Synergetics operates with new quantities such as "tensegrity".
Fascinated by the almost mystical qualities of the tetrahedron, which is at the same time both convex and concave, Fuller uses it as a metaphor for just about everything, from life to mind. Every now and then geometric considerations leads to observations about life. The universe for him is the set of all human experiences, whether communicated to self or to others. In that universe, there are no things, only events. Synergetic models the universe using only frequency and angle.
The book concludes with a chapter on "numerology" whose introduction is written in verses.

Fuller Buckminster: COSMOGRAPHY (Macmillan, 1992)

A recapitulation of Fuller's synergetics which intermingles Einstein's Relativity and the history of mankind, theorems in three-dimensional geometry and humanitarian considerations. Fuller's thought is inspired by one of hiw own inventions, the geodesic dome (1954), a structure that exploits a very efficient way of enclosing space and that gets stronger as it gets larger.

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