The last dozen years have seen a great deal of writings about the mysteries of consciousness by philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, physicists and others. I’ve especially enjoyed reading a multi-disciplinary journal called the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Because contributors are trying to reach audiences outside their own specialty, most articles are good reading for laypersons. Especially good was a series beginning in Vol. 2 (1995), No. 3 on the topic “Explaining consciousness – The ‘Hard Problem’”.
Interesting books by philosophers include:
The Invisible Flame, Colin McGinn
The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers
Understanding Consciousness, Max Velmans
A History of the Mind, Nicholas Humphrey
A book that attempts to update and explain Whitehead’s process philosophy and how it relates to the problem of consciousness is Unsnarling the World-Knot, by David Ray Griffin.
A neuroscientist with an interesting perspective who is an excellent writer is Antonio Damasio, who has written Descartes’ Error and The Feeling of What Happens.
It is hard for me to resist the idea that there is a connection between the mysteries of consciousness and that of the deepest levels of physical reality. There have been many good books written for popular audiences about developments in modern physics. Some I have enjoyed are:
Dreams of a Final Theory, Steven Weinberg
A Brief History of Time, Stephen W. Hawking
The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene
The Life of the Cosmos and Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, by Lee Smolin
Evolution and Evolutionary Psychology
Recently I’ve been trying to read more on evolution, a topic which seems to touch so many relevant areas. Recent reads include:
What Evolution Is, by Ernst Mayr, which is a summary written by a premier evolutionist of the past several decades; and Darwin’s Ghost, by Steve Jones, which takes the form of an update to Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.
Also, on the interesting topic of extending the evolutionary perspective to the broadest possible level is Cosmic Evolution, by Eric Chaisson
The writer Robert Wright is the leading popularizer of developments in evolutionary psychology. His books are The Moral Animal, and Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny.
Another book I read by a specialist in this interesting field is Darwinian Natural Right, by Larry Arnhart.