NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"If you’ve ever wondered how you have the capacity to wonder, some fascinating insights await you in these pages.” --Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals
As concise and enlightening as Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, this mind-expanding dive into the mystery of consciousness is an illuminating meditation on the self, free will, and felt experience.
What is consciousness? How does it arise? And why does it exist? We take our experience of being in the world for granted. But the very existence of consciousness raises profound questions: Why would any collection of matter in the universe be conscious? How are we able to think about this? And why should we?
In this wonderfully accessible book, Annaka Harris guides us through the evolving definitions, philosophies, and scientific findings that probe our limited understanding of consciousness. Where does it reside, and what gives rise to it? Could it be an illusion, or a universal property of all matter? As we try to understand consciousness, we must grapple with how to define it and, in the age of artificial intelligence, who or what might possess it.
Conscious offers lively and challenging arguments that alter our ideas about consciousness—allowing us to think freely about it for ourselves, if indeed we can.
Harris (I Wonder), a consultant and editor for books about neuroscience and physics, probes the limits of the current scientific and philosophical understanding of consciousness, exploring the possibility of a more expansive and all-encompassing definition. She investigates biological anomalies, such as the ability of parasites or bacteria to affect the behavior of their hosts, or of psychedelic drugs to "suspend the illusion of self," in order to question preconceived notions about consciousness and free will. Harris goes on to introduce panpsychism, the idea "that all matter is imbued with consciousness in some sense," a concept long present in spiritual and metaphysical schools of thought, and more recently embraced by some physicists. Injecting a note of urgency into her discussion, she argues the time has come for consciousness to be investigated more thoroughly, in part because of the implications of artificial intelligence with increasingly advanced levels of cognition. Though some readers may have difficulty following the neuroscience, Harris provides a thoughtful examination of a complex subject at the very core of existence, human and otherwise, that is well worth the mental effort required.
Such a treat
A book like this doesn’t come very often. If I were a teacher in high school, a professor in college, or a parent, I would offer up this book as required reading, for it opens up our ideas to everything we know fundamentally to be true, and makes us question it all over again. It’s a mind expander and will shift your consciousness onto a new level for the better.
A fun and concise yet deep summary of our current understanding of consciousness. There is so much more to learn.
Groundbreaking. I rarely read books in one sitting, but this was both short enough and fascinating enough for me to do so. I felt both the warmth of knowing another mind had been considering many of the same ideas I have, and the freshness of possibilities I had never before considered. The consciousness I experience, whatever it is, expanded in a very pleasurable way during this read.