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Gallagher presents a collection of dialogues between himself and a number of neuroscientists, including Michael Gazzaniga, Marc Jeannerod, and Chris Frith, on the relation between the mind and brain.
I did not write this book, I constructed it. And in regard to its content, let me admit at the beginning that in this book I beg, borrow, and steal (well maybe not steal, since I have observed copyrights) as much wisdom as I can from some of the best minds of our time. These are people who think about brains and minds professionally. Although this is a book about the philosophy of mind, it is also interdisciplinary, so I have made use not only of philosophers, but also of neuropsychologists and neuroscientists, people who have gained their understanding of how brain and behavior and mental experience go together through experimentation. I’ve borrowed from people in person – in a series of interviews, many of which have been published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies. I’ve borrowed by means of e-mail exchanges that I’ve had with numerous people over the past several years. And of course, I’ve borrowed from books.
This book includes interviews, but is not strictly a collection of interviews. I have mixed in explanations and descriptions that are meant to clarify and explicate the issues under discussion. More specifically, this book is intended to be an unorthodox but very accessible introduction to certain themes that cut across the philosophy of mind and psychology. This might rightfully seem a contradiction. An introduction to a certain subject matter is supposed to be orthodox, if nothing else. That is, if one intends to introduce someone to a subject matter, one normally intends to review the established and received views that define the field. So in what sense can this be at the same time an introduction and unorthodox? Well first, the genre of this book is not standard for introductory textbooks since it consists in large parts of interviews rather than straight explanatory discourses. In addition, I can honestly say that there was no preconceived plan to the book, although this does not mean that a plan did not emerge in its construction. The topics and themes that we cover have emerged from the interviews themselves. But this is also why this can be considered an introductory text. The interview style, I believe, makes the various topics and themes very accessible, in the way that conversation tends to be more accessible than formal lecture. And as in a conversation, topics tend to emerge on their own and can be deeply engaging. Furthermore, the fact that these are the topics that emerged in conversations with some of the most important researchers in the field means that we will be exploring views that are close to the cutting edge of contemporary philosophy and science. So what we find expressed here are not so much the received and established views but a set of ongoing questions and discussions that define the field. If these are the issues that the leading researchers are concerned about and find exciting, it seems appropriate to think that these are the most appropriate issues to begin with, and that these are the issues that beginning students, or even experts who are approaching these topics from different fields, might find the most interesting.