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You're nothing but a pack of neurones!

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[opening paragraph]: The first issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies carried an interview with Francis Crick about his recent book, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul. Both the book and the interview are a mixture of science and philosophy. Crick is interested in how visual processing in the brain leads to the experience of consciously ‘seeing’ something. It is a good scientific question, and I agree with him that it is a timely one. The first two parts of the book set the scene. Part one summarizes the psychology of perception, and part two presents comparable background about the physical brain. Crick does all this rather well, but there is nothing novel or remarkable in it. Then in part three comes the central question of what neuronal processes lead to conscious awareness. Here Crick is raising questions at the frontiers of current scientific understanding, and he takes us through what pointers he can find in recent scientific work. As he admits, he comes to no clear conclusions, though he makes a useful contribution to current scientific discussion. However, it is Crick's philosophy rather than his science that has attracted most attention, as I suspect he intended. Unfortunately, the philosophy is less competent than the science, and beset with imprecise and overly broad-brush positions.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 1994-02-01

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