Book Reviews

Additions to the Bibliography on Mind and Consciousness

compiled by Piero Scaruffi

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O'Shaughnessy, Brian: CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE WORLD (Oxford Univ Press, 2002)

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Oatley Keith & Jenkins Jennifer: UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS (Blackwell, 1996)

Drawing from a multitude of sources (psychology, philosophy, anthropology, biology, neurophysiology, sociology), the book highlights the nature, development, function and structure of emotions.

Odum Eugene: FUNDAMENTALS OF ECOLOGY (Saunders, 1971)

A sobering introduction to the formal methods and theories of modern ecology. The most likely organisms to survive are those that maximize the flow of energy with the environment.

Odum Eugene & Odum Howard: ENERGY BASIS FOR MAN AND NATURE (McGraw-Hill, 1976)

An application of thermodynamic concepts to energy flows responsible for ecosystems and evolution.

Olson, Eric: THE HUMAN ANIMAL (Oxford Univ Press, 1997)

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Ornstein Robert: THE MIND AND THE BRAIN (Martinus Nijhoff, 1972)

A critique of the identity theory of the mind and the brain (J.J.C. Smart and U.T. Place in particular) and a presentation of a "multi-aspect" theory of the mind: the mental has an experiential (the experience of feeling a feeling), a neural (the corresponding brain processes), a behavioral (the related action) and a verbal (the related utterance) aspect.

Ornstein Robert: MULTIMIND (Houghton Mifflin, 1986)

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Ornstein Robert: EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Prentice Hall, 1991)

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Ornstein, Robert: The Right Mind; A Cutting Edge Picture of How the Two Sides of the Brain Work (Harvest Books, 1998)

This is a minor book by Ornstein that summarizes what neurophysiology knows about the two hemispheres of the brain for an audience of psychologists.

Ortony Andrew: METAPHOR AND THOUGHT (Cambridge Univ Press, 1979)

A collection of studies on metaphor.
The "conduit metaphor" deals with the idea that the mind contains thoughts that can be treated like objects. Michael Reddy thinks it is wrong. The transfer of thought is not a deterministic, mechanical process. It is an interactive, cooperative process.
Searle distinguishes metaphor from indirect speech acts: in the latter the speaker intends to convey both the sentence meaning and the indirect meaning, whereas in the former the speaker only intends to convey the indiurect meaning. Searle also distinguishes the sentence meaning from the speaker meaning: interpreting a metaphor has to do with figuring out how to relate them.
The second edition (1991) contains an article by George Lakoff on the contemporary theory of metaphor.
Also: Paivio, Kuhn, Lakoff, Gibbs, Pylyshyn, etc.

Ortony Andrew, Clore Gerald & Collins Allan: THE COGNITIVE STRUCTURE OF EMOTIONS (Cambridge Univ Press, 1988)

Emotion is not defined anywhere, but it is implicitly assumed to comply with the traditional view of consisting of arousal and appraisal, i.e. of being triggered by eliciting conditions. The authors group emotions in emotion types, and emotion types in emotion groups. Emotions in an emotion type are elicited by the same situation and their intensity is determined by the same variables. Emotion types in the same group have eliciting conditions that are structurally related.
An ontology of the world is provided in terms of events, agents and objects. Emotions are valenced reactions to either (consequences of) events, (actions of) agents or (aspects of) objects.
There are no basic emotions and no compositional rules to build complex emotions.
The intensity of an emotion depends on variables that depend on the appraisal of the stimulus. The appraisal system is in turn goal-driven. Factors that affect intensity include: proximity, unexpectedness, arousal.

Osgood Charles: THE NATURE AND MEASUREMENT OF MEANING (University Of Illinois Press, 1957)

The 18th century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza was probably the first to point out that emotions are three-dimensional entities. Emotions are not just pleasant or unpleasant, they are also weak or strong, and they are also more or less persistent.

In 1903, the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt also described emotion as having three different "dimensions". In 1957 the American psychologist Charles Osgood formalized the results of his experiments along the same lines. There are indeed three dimensions of emotion: evaluation (pleasant to unpleasant), arousal (calm to excited) and activity (in control to out of control). For example, fear is unpleasant, high arousal, and out of control. Unfortunately, anger is also unpleasant, high arousal, and out of control.


Second edition of the three-book introduction to the field: language, visual cognition and thinking. Each chapter is an essay by an expert.

Oyama Susan: ONTOGENY OF INFORMATION (Cambridge University Press, 1985)

Oyama offers and alternative to the nature-nurture dualism (inherited vs acquired characters).
The western tradition assumes that form preexists its appearance in bodies and minds (e.g., as genetic code). Information is the modern source of form: ubiquitous in the environment as well as in the genome. Development is traditionally explained as the parallel process of translating information in the genome (nature) and acquiring information from the environment (nurture). This view has deep cultural roots, but is nothing more than myth. Information regulates development.
Oyama's viewpoint is that information (e.g., from the genome) is itself generated, it develops. Information itself undergoes a developmental process, and therefore ontogenesis should apply to information.
In order to analyze what developmental information in the chromosomes means, Oyama focuses on three phenomena common to all life processes, and manifested in the genes, i.e. constancy, change and variability.
Oyama argues that organismic form cannot be transmitted in genes or contained in the environment, and cannot be partitioned by degrees of coding: it is constructed in developmental processes. Information in the genes and information in the environment are not biologically relevant until they participate in phenotypic processes. Form emerges through a history of interactions at many hierarchical levels. Constancy across generations and within a population is due to interaction between genes and environment. Chromosomal form is but one of the "interactants". There is no vehicle of constancy. Constancy is constructed.
Change is a natural consequence of matter being inherently reactive. There is no need for an external force to explain change. Ontogenetic change is the product of interacting influences, some inside the organism's borders and some outside.
An organism inherits its environment, as much as it inherits its genotype. It inherits the some competence, but also the stimuli that make that competence significant.
Form is the result of interactive construction, not the outcome of a preexisting plan.
The distinction between inherited and acquired characters is replaced by the notion of development systems, which allow for multiple development pathways. Control of development and of behavior emerges through interaction.
Oyama carries on a thorough critique of the gene as a "ghost in the biological machine", as the set of instructions for living beings.

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(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )