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The Large, the Small and the Human Mind Paperback – Apr 28 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 28 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521785723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521785723
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 367 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #442,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

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Will quantum physics let us reduce consciousness to computation? Roger Penrose says "no" with great force and eloquence in The Large, The Small, and the Human Mind. Originally prepared as a series of three lectures in Cambridge's Tanner Series on Human Values, the material is both meticulously thought out and informally presented, including many illustrations by Penrose and others. For publication, the author sought out rebuttals and commentary by philosophers Abner Shimony and Nancy Cartwright as well as his own colleague and occasional rival, the well-known theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, then reserves the last word for himself, as is his prerogative. The result is a sharp but polite argument on the nature of thinking and its reducibility; readers familiar with The Emperor's New Mind and Shadow of the Mind will find the arguments from quantum physics fleshed out in greater detail but also attacked with good-natured aplomb. Those who missed out on Penrose's older forays into this territory (or are somehow disinterested in the nature of thought) will find this an excellent, if broad, overview of the modern conception of physics from subatomic shenanigans to the radius of the universe as well as a stimulating debate among several great modern thinkers. Despite Penrose's certainty that our brains can't be modelled by computational systems--and hence that strong artificial intelligence will remain in science fiction--the argument continues, and will continue for some time. The Large, The Small, and the Human Mind crystallises that debate for readers who want to keep up with the latest thinking about thinking. --Rob Lightner

Review

'To see a scientist of Penrose's ability, stature and achievement toss large parts of modern physics into the air as though juggling balls and try to keep them aloft while marshalling them into a coherent pattern is a thing to behold. It is a wonderful illustration of a first-rate scientist doing what first-rate scientists have always done: make bold conjectures and display them for others to confirm, refute or amend.' Keith Devlin, New Scientist

'When Oxford physicist and mathematician Penrose ... has something to say about general relativity, quantum physics and artificial intelligence, we would do well to listen.' Publishers Weekly

'The book is an attractive and stimulating introduction to some fascinating issues, on some of which (such as the intelligibility of the universe) theists would certainly be able to offer some alternative insights.' John Polkinghorne, Science and Christian Belief

'... one could hardly ask for a shrewder or more enthusiastic tour guide to the extremes of physics.' Scientific American

'... a stimulating and compact review of Penrose's own thinking.' Bernard Dixon, The Independent

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