If you’re looking for a book about consciousness, free will, and altered state of consciousness, this is the one.
This article contains an affiliate link, but all opinions are my own.
Two years ago, I learned about neurocognition in a course during my bachelor’s. And ever since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how our brain works, if free will exists, and what consciousness really is. This has led me to seek out further knowledge about the topic and last week I came across this book by Susan Blackmore called Consciousness: An Introduction (Link to Goodreads).
“Consciousness, ‘the last great mystery for science’, has now become a hot topic. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? issues, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. “Book description from Goodreads
And I am really glad that I found this book since it’s exactly what I needed to get a substantial grip on the subject.
What you’ll learn
This book is a textbook about consciousness and its related fields, written for cognitive science and philosophy students, so it contains a lot of information from research fields such as:
- and more
But even though it’s a textbook, it’s actually quite an easy read since it’s supposed to give an introduction to the field, and not dive into the most advanced parts. The first few chapters are even introductions to the different fields mentioned above.
Most interesting topics in the book
I won’t get into every chapter since that would be too much.
However, some of the most interesting topics I found in the book were:
- An altered state of consciousness: How can meditation (mindfulness, yoga, etc), drugs (amphetamines, psychedelics, nitro oxygen, marijuana, and etc), and spirituality (religion, reaching nirvana, and etc) affect and modify our experience of consciousness? This is probably especially interesting if you have tried to alter your perception of the world and consciousness.
- Can other animals and machines have consciousness? Is consciousness something only humans can experience, or can other intelligent animals such as an octopus, a dog, or a dolphin and future smart machines also experience the same sense of consciousness? Is a tree conscious? Where do we draw the line for what and who’s conscious and not? It’s an interesting philosophical question.
- Lucid dreams
- Mental illnesses and perception of the world
I hope you’ll find this book as interesting as I did!