Book Reviews

Additions to the Bibliography on Mind and Consciousness

compiled by Piero Scaruffi

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Raffles, Hugh: INSECTOPEDIA (Pantheon, 2010)

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Raiffa Howard: DECISION ANALYSIS (Addison-Wesley, 1968)

Raiffa all but founded the discipline of taking decisions by borrowing ideas from Von Neumann's concept of utility (compute pros and cons of a decision). Its goal is to define what constitutes a "good" decision, regardless of whether its result is "good" or not.

Ramachandran, Vilayanur & Blakeslee, Sandra: PHANTOMS IN THE BRAIN (Quill William Morrow, 1998)

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Ramachandran, Vilayanur: "The Tell-Tale Brain" (Norton, 2011)

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Ramsey William, Stich Stephen & Rumelhart David: PHILOSOPHY AND CONNECTIONIST THEORY (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991)

Philosophical articles on the connectionist model by Margaret Boden, Daniel Dennett, William Lycan, etc.

Ramsey Allan: FORMAL METHODS IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Modal, temporal, non-monotonic logic and an introduction to Montague's semantics.


Ray's goal is to create "creatures" (sequences of computer instructions) that can compete for memory space. Unlike Dawkins and Holland, Ray does not employ a function to measure how "fit" a creature is: it is life itself to determine how fit the creature is.


An introduction and survey of connectionist natural language processing.

Reiser Morton: MEMORY IN MIND AND BRAIN (Basic, 1990)

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Ridley Matt: NATURE VIA NURTURE (HarperCollins, 2003)

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Ridley Matt: THE RED QUEEN (MacMillan, 1994)

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Ridley Matt: THE COOPERATIVE GENE (Free Press, 2001)

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Ridley, Matt: EVOLUTION (Blackwell, 1993)

An excellent introduction to the topics of Darwinian evolution.

Ridley Matt: THE ORIGINS OF VIRTUE (Viking, 1997)

Ridley shows that social behavior, such as cooperation, trade, religion, is a consequence of evolution. Ridley sides with Dawkins in thinking that the gene is the unit of selection and in believing that genes are selfish. But Ridley shows that it is in their interest to form alliances. Cooperation is a recurring theme at all levels of the biological world. Ridley explains cooperation among organisms of different species by using game theory.
The idea that human social behavior has been shaped by evolution is in contrast with the view expounded by evolutionary psychologists such as John Tooby and Leda Cosmides (proponents of the Standard Social Sciences Model) who believe that culture shapes human behavior notwithstanding biological pressures.

Riesbeck Christopher & Schank Roger: INSIDE CASE-BASED REASONING (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989)

The definitive introduction to case-based reasoning: scripts, cases, the episodic model of memory.
Case-based reasoning is a form of analogical reasoning in which an episodic memory archives generalizations of all known cases and each new case spawns the search for a case that is similar. The new case is interpreted based on any similar cases and is used to furtherly refine the generalizations. Interpretation is expectation-driven, based on what happened in previous cases.
Episodic memory contains examples of solutions, rather than solutions.
The book surveys the most important systems built by Schank's team, thereby touching on MOPs and more advanced memory structures.

Richards Ivor: THE PHILOSOPHY OF RHETORIC (Oxford Univ Press, 1936)

Rips Lance: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PROOF (MIT Press, 1994)

Lance claims that deductive reasoning is central to intelligence, explains how it depends on the ability to construct mental proofs by linking memory units to the conclusions they warrant, and proposes a unified theory of natural deductive reasoning that requires only two cognitive skills: the ability to generate assumptions and the ability to generate subgoals. Then shows its relations to natural logics, nonmonotonic reasoning and defeasible reasoning.
When the mind has to categorize an object a variety of inferential processes occur, not limited to prototype recognition.

Robinson Daniel: THE MIND (Oxford Univ Press, 1998)

A comprehensive reader of philosophy of mind from ancient Greece (actually, from ancient India) to the 1980s. Each of the main philosophers is given 3-4 pages.

Roediger Henry: VARIETIES OF MEMORY AND CONSCIOUSNESS (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989)

A collection of essays in honour of Endel Tulving.
John Anderson provides a "rational analysis of memory": memory must behave as an optimal solution to the information-retrieval problem.
Daniel Schacter, the originator of the concepts of implicit and explicit memory, presents a cognitive architecture (DICE) to deal with awareness. Explicit memory refers to memory with awareness, while implicit memory refers to the recall of experience to perform a task without any intentional remembering.
Donald Broadbent highlights results of his tests: there seem to be several codes for representing information; the information can pass from one code to another; such declarative knowledge is distinct from procedural knowledge, which is used to memorize skills in which too much information would be required; procedural knowledge may be turned into declarative knowledge.

Rolls, Edmund: : THE BRAIN AND EMOTION (Oxford Univ Press, 1999) Click here for full review

Rosch Eleanor: COGNITION AND CATEGORIZATION (Erlbaum, 1978)

A collection of articles on categorization: Brent Berlin's "Ethnobiological classification", Kosslyn's "Imagery and internal representation" and Rosch's own "Principles of categorization".
Rosch's principles are that 1. the task of category systems is to provide maximum information with the least cognitive effort; and 2. the perceived world comes as structured information.
Concepts promote a cognitive economy by partitioning the world into classes. Concepts allow the mind to substantially reduce the amount of information to be remembered and processed.
A concept is represented through a prototype which expresses its most significant properties. A prototype has cultural roots. Membership of an individual in a category is then determined by the perceived distance of resemblance of the individual to the prototype of the category.
There exists a level of abstraction at which the most basic category cuts are made (cue validity is maximized), the basic level. Superordinate categories are more abstract and more comprehensive. Subordinate categories are less abstract and less comprehensive. Categories are related in a hierarchical organization of language to describe the world. The most fundamental perception and description of the world occurs at the level of natural (basic) categories.
Categories occur in systems, and such systems include contrasting categories. At the basic level categories are maximally distinct, i.e. they maximize perceived similarity among category members and minimize perceived similarities across contrasting categories. Cue validity is the conditional probability that an object falls in a particular category given a specific feature. Category cue validity is the sum of all the individual cue validities of the features associated with a category. The highest cue validity occurs at the basic level. The lowest cue validities occur for superordinate categories
Later Rosch will ripudiate her theory of prototypes: categories are not mutually exclusive (an object can belong to more than one category to different degrees), i.e. they are fundamentally ambigous.

Rothenberg, David: "Survival of the Beautiful" (2011)

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Rose Steven Peter Russell: THE CONSCIOUS BRAIN (Harmondsworth, 1976)

The mental and the neuran are simply two aspects of the same physical state. Mind neither causes a physical state of the brain nor is caused by it.

Rose Steven Peter Russell: THE MAKING OF MEMORY (Bantam, 1992)

A broad review of the mind-brain debate.


Univ Press, 1985) A survey of strategies employed by biologists in building a science of life.

Rosenberg Alexander: SOCIOBIOLOGY AND THE PREEMPTION OF SOCIAL SCIENCE (John Hopkins Univ Press, 1980)

Rosenberg thinks that logical anomalies of the intentional language constitute a good reason to omit intentional phenomena from science.

Rosenberg, Gregg: "A Place for Consciousness" (Oxford Univ Press, 2004)

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Rosenblatt Frank: PRINCIPLES OF NEURODYNAMICS (Spartan, 1962)

Rosenblatt extended the model of the binary neuron to connections with continous values which are changing dynamically. His "perceptron" can be trained with a finite number of iterations of a training procedure.

Rosenblum, Bruce & Kuttner, Fred: QUANTUM ENIGMA (Oxford Univ Press, 2006)

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Rosenfeld Israel: THE STRANGE, THE FAMILIAR AND FORGOTTEN (Vintage, 1995)

An account of consciousness based on clinical cases. Memory is impossible without consciousness. Memory is not simply a storage mechanism, it is a continuing brain activity. Consciousness arises from the "dynamic interrelations of the past, the present and the body image" (the ability of the brain to relate sensations to specific areas of the body).

Rosenthal David: MATERIALISM AND THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM (Prentice-Hall, 1971)

Contains J.J. Smart's 1959 paper in defense of the identity theory of the mind.

Rosenthal David: NATURE OF MIND (Oxford University Press, 1991)

A monumental reader on the mind, collecting some of the most influential papers ever written on the subject, starting with Descartes and ending with Searle's chinese room experiment. Armostrong, Smart, Putnam, Lewis, Block, Kripke, Davidson, Kim, Quine, Chisholm, Fodor, Dennett, Dretske, Sellars, Nagel, Searle, Churchland, Stich and many others are represented with some of their writings.

Rucker Rudy: INFINITY AND THE MIND (Birkhauser, 1982)

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Rugg Michael: COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE (Psychology Press, 1997)

A survey, written by international experts, of experimental neurophysiological and psychological findings.

Rumelhart David & McClelland James: PARALLEL DISTRIBUTED PROCESSING VOL. 1 (MIT Press, 1986)

Parallel Distributed Processing, or PDP, is a class of general processing systems that employ a number of interacting processors, whereby processing is done in parallel by all the processors and control is distributed over all the processes. Rumelhard, McClelland and Hinton propose a general framework in a formal way and introduce a number of variants, from simple linear models to thermodynamic models. The axiom of their framework is that all the knowledge of the system is in the connections between the processors. Items can be represented by activity in a single unit or by patterns of activity over a set of units. Distributed representations are efficient for tasks of generalization, recognition, etc.
This approach is better suited for pattern matching tasks such as visual recognition and language understanding.
Neurocomputation is a form of "parallel distributed processing": a neural net is a non-linear direct graph in which each element of processing (each node) receives signals from other nodes and emits a signal towards other nodes, and each connection between nodes has a weight that can vary in time.
A concept is represented not by a symbol stored at some memory location, but by an equilibrium state defined over a dynamic network of locally interacting units. Each unit encodes one of the many features relevant to recognizing the concept, and the connections between units are excitatory or inhibitory inasmuch as the corresponding features are mutually supportive or contradictory. A given unit can contribute to the definition of many concepts.
Competitive learning, the Boltzmann machine, the generalized delta rule and Smolensky's "harmony" theory are discussed at length.
Smolensky, by formalizing the notion of "schema" developed a theory of dynamical systems that perform cognitive tasks at a subsymbolic level. The task of a schema-based perceptual system can be viewed as the completion of the partial description of static states of an environment. Knowledge is encoded as constraints among a set of perceptual features. The constraints and features evolve gradually with experience. Schemata are collections of knowledge atoms that become active in order to maximize "harmony". The cognitive system is an engine for activating coherent assemblies of atoms and drawing inferences that are consistent with the knowledge represented by the activated atoms. The harmony function measures the self-consistency of a possible state of the cognitive system.
The harmony function obeys a law that resembles simulated annealing (just like Boltzmann machine): the best completion is found by lowering the temperature to zero. Smolensky borrows concepts and techniques from thermal physics for building his harmony theory.

Russell Bertrand: AN INQUIRY INTO MEANING AND TRUTH (Penguin, 1962)

In this 1940 essay, consciousness is a window into the brain that allows us to have direct knowledge of matter.
Russell defines "propositional attitudes" sentences that express the subject's attitude towards a proposition. They express a mental state.
Matter is endowed with qualities that are directly accessible to the mind, that are in a causal relationship with the mind.
The set of all the set that are not members of themselves is both a member and not a member of itself (the barber who shaves all barbers who do not shave themselves)

Russell Bertrand: MY PHILOSOPHICAL DEVELOPMENT (George Allen & Unwin, 1959)

Bertrand Russell focused on the inscrutability of matter in general and of brain matter in particular: we cannot know the nature of matter (electrons, gravitational waves and so forth) other than through theories and experiments, but never feel it directly. In particular, we cannot know the processes that occur in our brain. Mind allows us to perceive at least some of those processes as they occur in the brain.
He made the remark that what a neurophysiologist really sees while examining someone else's brain is a part of his own brain. The irreducibility of the mental to the physical is simply an illusion: the mental and the physical are different ways of knowing of the same thing, the former by consciousness and the latter by the senses. Consciousness gives us immediate, direct knowledge of what is in the brain, whereas the senses can observe (possibly aided by instruments) what is in the brain. The mental is not reduced to the physical, and the traditional preeminence of the physical over the mental is turned on its head: the mental is a transparent grasp of the intrinsic character of the brain.
Consciousness is, basically, just another sense, a sense that, instead of perceiving colors or smells or sounds, perceives the very nature of the brain.

Russell Stuart Jonathan: THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE IN ANALOGY AND INDUCTION (Pitnam, 1989)

A study on learning by analogy and induction with a survey of related work.

Russell, Stuart Jonathan: DO THE RIGHT THING (MIT Press, 1991)

"Studies in limited rationality".
Stuart Russell underlines that Turing's definition is at the same time too weak and too strong. Too weak because it does not include intelligent behavior such as "dodging bullets" and too strong because it does include unintelligent beings such as Searle's chinese-room translator. It is a partial extensional definition, that fails to capture the intensional definition of intelligence.
Russell is interested in agents that are capable of trading off quality against urgency, agents that have limited computational power and must take action in limited periods of time, i.e. that satisfy Henry Simon's principle of "bounded rationality". His rational agents are therefore "situated" and aim at efficiency. Efficiency is achieved through metareasoning, reasoning about reasoning, reducing each computational problem to a decision problem which pivots around a "utility measure" (choosing the course of action based on the situation at hand). The model of the world, whose reliability is essential for metareasoning to really provide efficient reasoning, is tuned through a process of learning.

Norvig, Peter & Russell, Stuart: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (Prentice Hall, 1995)

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Rycroft Charles: THE INNOCENCE OF DREAMS (Hogarth, 1979)

A study of modern neurophysiological findings on dreaming and their impact on Freud's and Jung's theories of dreaming.

Ryle Gilbert: THE CONCEPT OF MIND (Hutchinson, 1949)

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