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Acts of Consciousness
A Social Psychology Standpoint


  • Author: Guy Saunders, University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521128544

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About the Authors
  • Drawing on compelling material from research interviews with former hostages and political prisoners, Guy Saunders reworks three classic thought experiment stories: Parfit's 'Teleporter', Nagel's 'What is it like to be a bat?' and Jackson's 'Mary the colour scientist' to form a fresh look at the study of consciousness. By examining consciousness from a social psychology perspective, Saunders develops a 'cubist psychology of consciousness' through which he challenges the accepted wisdom of mainstream approaches by arguing that people can act freely. What makes 'cubist psychology' is both the many examples taken from different viewpoints and the multiple ways of looking at the key issues of person, mind and world. This is a unique and engaging book that will appeal to students and academics in the field of consciousness studies and other readers with an interest in consciousness.

    • Contributes a new standpoint on the field of consciousness studies by taking a social psychology and a psychology of the arts standpoint - what the author calls 'a cubist psychology of consciousness'
    • Key points are elaborated with commentaries and illustrative examples, allowing interested readers to follow quite complex debates
    • Written in an engaging, accessible and enjoyable style
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The rich personal and intellectual journey that has taken Saunders to the writing of this book - and its warm and wise personal voice - is a creative achievement that makes it a most attractive point of entry for readers seeking access to the social psychological uses of consciousness whether by political prisoners, artists, writers, or 'ordinary' interested citizens.' Ciarán Benson, Emeritus Professor, University College Dublin

    ''We are persons brought about socially by the action of people already persons.' Guy Saunders' relational approach to self and consciousness provides a refreshing alternative to the standard internalist, 'privatizing' approaches. He makes highly effective use not only of examples from film and literature, but also his own interviews with ex-hostages about their experiences of profound isolation. An insightful contribution to the study of consciousness.' Alan Costall, Centre for Situated Action and Communication, University of Portsmouth

    'A refreshing change from mere inventories of research and just what every teacher of psychology wants to see in a book - natural but informed. The content covers contemporary research as well as philosophy, first-person accounts of being held in captivity, film, writing, and, perhaps most engagingly, music. This will be a solid asset to students, teachers and researchers concerned with the social construction of consciousness and with real human experience.' John Pickering, University of Warwick

    'Guy Saunders' Acts of Consciousness … can be seen as a palliative to the individualist cultural tendency and a skilled attempt to understand as profoundly social the self and the consciousness that characterizes, indeed performs, it … If you are … interested in what it means to be human, the book is certainly worth reading.' PsycCRITIQUES

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521128544
    • length: 348 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. To Be Conscious:
    1. To teleport or not to teleport? (Parfit)
    2. To be a person: ego, bundle and social theories
    3. To be captive
    Part II. To Have Consciousness:
    4. 'What is it like to be a bat?' (Nagel)
    5. Treatments of subjective conscious experience in the arts
    6. A captive mind
    Part III. To Know Consciously:
    7. Landscape and the world about us
    8. 'Mary the colour scientist' (Jackson)
    9. Knowing how it feels to be free

  • Author

    Guy Saunders, University of the West of England, Bristol
    Guy Saunders is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of the West of England, Bristol where he teaches courses on 'Psychology of Consciousness' and 'Psychology and the Arts'.

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