Ever since its discovery nearly thirty years ago, the phenomenon of blindsight—vision without visual consciousness—has been the source of great controversy in the philosophy of mind, psychology, and the neurosciences. Despite the fact that blindsight is widely acknowledged to be a critical test-case for theories of mind, Blindsight and the Nature of Consciousness is the first extended treatment of the phenomenon from a philosophical perspective. Holt argues, against much received wisdom, for a thorough-going materialism—the view not only that mental states are brain states, but (much more controversially) that mental properties are physical as well. Designed not only for philosophers and scientists, Blindsight and the Nature of Consciousness has something to say to anyone interested in the mystery of the human mind and in how philosophers and scientists are working toward solving that mystery.
“A splendid book. Jason Holt offers evidence from dissociations of conscious awareness from intact function, especially focussing on blindsight, and conducts a tightly-argued, robust, and pithy survey of the contemporary philosophical debate on consciousness. It is both a challenge and a good source of empirical evidence relevant to the philosophical debate.” — Lawrence Weiskrantz, University of Oxford
“Holt uses the bizarre phenomenon of blindsight (the retention of certain visually based abilities in the apparent absence of visual experience) to illuminate a variety of philosophical puzzles ranging from the core problem of the nature of consciousness, through quite intricate issues in the theory of knowledge, to issues in the philosophy of perception. Holt moves briskly through an excellent introduction to the nature of blindsight as well as a set of distinct, highly interesting, dissociation syndromes into a defense of materialism which uses the blindsight phenomenon in several imaginative ways. The anchoring of a sustained philosophical argument on one core empirical phenomenon (and one of great intrinsic interest) is innovative.… The writing is always lively and a model of clarity. It is also very provocative and bound to spark debate.” — William Seager, University of Toronto at Scarborough