|Abstract||For thirty years, Lawrence Weiskrantz has been at the forefront of experimental research into neurological patients who have ‘lost’ awareness. This book provides a history and an overview of that research; which has focused on ‘blindsight’ patients, who report no visual awareness in part of their visual field, and ‘amnesic’ patients, who have no experience of remembering past events. Yet, the book aims to be much more than a review. Using findings from his patients, and taking in a great deal of other research along the way, Weiskrantz addresses some fundamental issues. He calls these the ‘What?’, ‘Whether?’, ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ of consciousness. What is consciousness? When, if at all, can we attribute it to animals? Why did it evolve? How does the brain accomplish it? The book is an empirical enquiry into the nature of consciousness, and it is written in a consistently engaging and accessible style. Neuropsychological research has clearly had a major impact on thinking about consciousness. Largely because of this work, few now regard the topic as an issue beyond scientific enquiry (McGinn, 1989; Nagel, 1974). This research also paved the way for the recent proliferation of ‘bold’ scientific hypotheses, most of which presently offer far less insight into the phenomenon. Perhaps the best indicator of this is that philosophers with widely varying theoretical approaches to consciousness, including those that remain sceptical about current scientific approaches, choose neuropsychological research to frame and illustrate the arguments they wish to present (e.g. Block, 1995; Dennett, 1991).|
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