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Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness Paperback – Jun 8 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; REP edition (Aug. 15 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106466
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 2.4 x 15.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #217,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

This book asserts that human consciousness is not necessarily intelligible in terms of computational models. The brain's conscious activity essentially transcends the forms or possibilities of computation. Penrose (mathematics, Oxford) illustrates his thesis via mathematical logic, including detailed discussions of Godel's proposition of incompleteness, Turing's machines and computabilities, quantum mechanics, and microbiology. Eventually, Penrose argues that artificial intelligence and computer-controlled expert systems are capable of assisting local human expertise but will not be able to replace such expertise. Expanding on some of the ideas and concepts proposed in his controversial book, The Emperor's New Mind (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1989), Penrose challenges others to reconsider traditional concepts. Some familiarity with mathematical logic or processes will facilitate one's appreciation of this book. Recommended for scholars, specialists, and informed lay readers.
Donald G. Frank, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A leading critic of artificial intelligence research returns to the attack, attempting to lay the groundwork for an analysis of the true nature of intelligence. Building on his arguments in The Emperor's New Mind (not reviewed), Penrose (Mathematics/Oxford) begins by refuting the assertion that true intelligence can be attained--or even adequately simulated--by the strictly computational means to which current computers are ultimately limited. Much of his argument depends closely on the application of G”del's Undecidability Theorem to Turing machines--deep waters for laypeople, although the fundamentals of his argument are accessible to readers without sophisticated mathematical training. Having disposed of the central tenets of current AI research, Penrose then turns to an even more fundamental question: the actual foundations in modern physics (i.e., relativity and quantum theory) of the phenomenon of consciousness. Here much of his summary depends on fairly complex mathematical reasoning, although the key points are summarized for the general reader who has been willing to follow him so far. Penrose feels that a new physical synthesis, reconciling the paradoxes of quantum theory and bringing them into harmony with Einstein's gravitational theories, is ultimately necessary to explain the noncomputational elements of consciousness and intelligence. He speculates on the possible role of cellular structures called microtubules in creating a quantum phenomenon on a macroscopic scale within the brain, but grants that more research is needed to establish any connection between physical and mental phenomena. His conclusion steps back to a philosophical overview of the subject, paying homage to Plato, among others. A challenging examination of a central problem of modern philosophy, with no final answers but plenty of food for thought. (76 line drawings) (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Between the beautifully written prologue and epilogue, this book approaches a range of topics in modern physics in a unique and readable way. Through a continuation of some earlier work, Penrose furthers an argument for brain function and conciousness that many in the artificial intelligence field will not appreciate. He presents his case that the human mind will never be simulated with digital a computer, no matter how complex. But that is not his main focus of this book.
Even more facinating are his calculations which indicate how mathematically unique our existence is under the 2nd law of thermodynamics. To me, it's ultimately ironic that the physical principal which orders our universe and makes intelligent life possible (the 2nd law), is the result of an unimaginably improbable set of initial conditions. Although Penrose never invokes the concept of a creator or supreme being, in my mind, this poses an interesting challenge to those in the scientific community who claim our universe is simply the result of random particle collisions over a long period of time.
If we combine the concepts of similar structures scaling across space and time (tensegrity and fractals), with Penrose's ideas that consciousness may be associated with quantum gravity interactions in microtubules (present in all living cells), perhaps there is far more mystery and beauty to this existence than some would now believe...
This book was satisfying and throught provoking, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mysteries of the very large and the very small.
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By A Customer on Dec 26 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a significant improvement on Penrose's previous writing of similar scope, "The Emperor's New Mind", especially that he has more specific ideas on the actual biological manifestations of the noncomputational processes he seeks as basis for consciousness. Even if one does not agree with his arguments, there is a great amount of information on physics and so on, written in a style that makes the book a pleasure to read. A previous review mentioned that many have opposed the logical arguments from the first part of the book. Penrose, however, has replied quite well to many criticisms (see PSYCHE, an electronic journal on consciousness), and I think it is premature to pass final judgement. For an alternative, not necessarily incompatible, view of consciousness I highly recommend "The Feeling of What Happens" by the distinguished neurologist Antonio R. Damasio (or at least check out his article "How the Brain Creates the Mind" in Scientific American, December 1999).
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Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most exciting of its kind.To me,the best science book I ever read. When talking about human brains it is not longer a matter of Computation or the Quantum Model. It's also a quest of one of our primary needs:the knowledge of our selves.Explained from a scientific point of view.It highlights however in a certain way the spiritual dimension of human beings.Without telling us directly,Penrose introduce on the reader's mind phylosophique and religious issues,as possible links on the explanation of the whole. It's true,we can't conclude(after reading the book)we have a definitive explanation,which has been proved right.However on this book,to my knowledge,it's the first time a scientist establish the link:Our Brains:Consciousness and the Quantum Model! If I compare to others books of its kind,such as Stephen Hawkins and Sir Roger Penrose in Space and Time,1995;Leon Lederman in God Particle,1995,Fred A.Wolf in Taking the Quantum Leap,1982 and Star Wave,1984;and finally the previous book of Penrose:The Emperor's New Mind,1990 I have to conclude on the fact that Penrose,on Shadows of the Mind goes beyond frontiers others could not reach before. And I have to analyze briefly the new aspects Penrose approach in a such visionary way:1)The strong possibility that physics(of particles)could be the basis of the appearance of high intellectual functions in our brains(which is quite opposite to the traditional scientific knowledge of the chemical basis being the cause)2)The strong possibility of the emerge of the highest intellectual function:consciousness into the most complex part of our brains:the neuronal synapses(microtubules)and 3)the possibility certain human brains could react differently from the average,because of a different physical arrangement.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
"Shadows of the Mind" begins by addressing the arguments against the points Professor Penrose made in his former book, "The Emperor's New Mind." He then goes on to hint at an approach to the subject of consciousness, the great puzzle that science has heretofore been unable to explain, and has even denied.

The book provides a visionary journey through a variety of curious facets of the physical universe which might throw light on the subject of consciousness. The peculiar nature of matter is at center stage as the author crafts a careful argument to back up his quantum theory of consciousness.

Why is it that a physicist is the one to tackle this subject as opposed to a biologist? Professor Penrose suggests that physicists may be in a better position to comprehend how matter really behaves than biologists are, being more familiar with the workings of quantum mechanical effects and non-computable phenomena.

The book concludes with an examination of how quantum behaviour in cells could be responsible for the phenomenon of consciousness. But for me the destination is not more exciting than the voyage and the world view shared by this intellectual giant from the world of cosmic research.
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