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I'm looking for a book that isn't too dense and that is usually recommended for someone who wants to learn of the mind/consciousness but doesn't know where to start.

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I'm not sure that book recommendations are entirely on-topic here, but do you want a historical view of what philosophers have thought about mind and consciousness in the past (and therefore what the important questions are thought to be), or a modern account of how (some) philosophers view mind and consciousness in light of recent research in neurobiology/cognitive science? –  Rex Kerr Nov 10 '12 at 9:41
I don't see why we shouldn't have book recommendations here, but that's a discussion probably better left to Meta. –  Ryder Nov 10 '12 at 23:29
anything by Malcolm Gladwell is cool –  gerdi Nov 13 '12 at 13:49
Cool, yes. Accurate, not very. Useful to understanding philosophy of mind with regards to consciousness- not at all. –  Ryder Nov 17 '12 at 13:01
I haven't read David Chalmers The conscious mind, but I have the impression its a useful one on this topic. –  Mozibur Ullah Jun 14 '13 at 18:57

2 Answers 2

I would wholly recommend Susan Blackmore's Consciousness. It's part of the Very Short Introduction series, not as expensive as Blackwell's, and takes you through just enough history to help you understand what the relevant issues currently are. If you're interested in reading further, just check her citations and go from there.

Also, a good essay to start with is always Thomas Nagel's "What is it Like to Be a Bat?" which you can easily find online. Hume and Berkeley are worth reading, but they're a little removed from the current state of the debate on minds and consciousness. If you want something that's not dense, but you're not afraid of a longer read, there's also Stephen Pinker's How the Mind Works. It's a fairly strong Functionalist account of mind, but it doesn't pretend to have all the answers.

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To be honest, it is hard to recommend a single book. If you really want to understand philosophy, you must read many books. So you might want to start with Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Berkeley's Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Descartes' Meditations and Discourse on the Method, as well as Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals. These are by far the best epistemology/metaphysics books I have ever read. It might seem obvious recommending such well-known books, but they are well-known because they are truly phenomenal. Also, if you are interested in the development of mathematics, and in particular analysis, I would recommend The Analyst by Berkeley -- a remarkable book. If however, you do not have time to read them all, start with Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Berkeley's Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and avoid Kant' Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, and any of Kant's books because they are very difficult to read. You need to read each book at least twice to understand Kant.

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Not to demean your selection, but he asked specifically for works that aren't dense. I'm rather sure that Kant falls well outside of his request in that respect. Moreover, if it was consciousness he was after, and density wasn't at issue, why leave out Brentano, Frege, and Husserl? –  Ryder Nov 19 '12 at 16:41
You could include those also, but in my opinion one has to start with the books I included, and perhaps Frege. Note that I mentioned avoiding Kant because his books are very difficult to read. Overall, it is hard to ask for something that is not dense in philosophy. –  glebovg Nov 19 '12 at 19:03

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