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Galileo's Error

Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness
Written by: Philip Goff
Narrated by: Maxwell Caulfield
Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From a leading philosopher of the mind comes this lucid, provocative argument that offers a radically new picture of human consciousness - panpsychism

Understanding how brains produce consciousness is one of the great scientific challenges of our age. Some philosophers argue that consciousness is something "extra", beyond the physical workings of the brain. Others think that if we persist in our standard scientific methods, our questions about consciousness will eventually be answered. And some suggest that the mystery is so deep, it will never be solved.

In Galileo's Error, Philip Goff offers an exciting alternative that could pave the way forward. Rooted in an analysis of the philosophical underpinnings of modern science and based on the early 20th-century work of Arthur Eddington and Bertrand Russell, Goff makes the case for panpsychism, a theory which posits that consciousness is not confined to biological entities but is a fundamental feature of all physical matter - from subatomic particles to the human brain. Here is the first step on a new path to the final theory of human consciousness.

Cover image: Gold Beam Collision Recorded at STAR. Copyright Brookhaven National Laboratory (Creative Commons). Full image available at Flickr.com.

©2019 Philip Goff (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“In Galileo’s Error, Philip Goff argues for a new approach to the scientific study of consciousness. He offers an accessible and compelling analysis of why our felt experience continues to elude scientific explanation and why the theories that describe consciousness as a fundamental feature of matter have been neglected - and why they now deserve serious consideration. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of consciousness studies.” (Annaka Harris, best-selling author of Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind)

“This is one of the clearest accounts I've ever read about the mystery of consciousness, and the way in which one theory about it, panpsychism, does a great deal to explain how it occurs and what it is. Why shouldn't consciousness be a normal property of matter, like mass or electrical charge? This idea has the glorious simplicity of our first realization that the earth goes around the sun, and not vice versa. Suddenly, the universe appears in a new and much more revealing perspective. Philip Goff's book is altogether a splendid introduction to this fascinating idea.” (Philip Pullman, author of the “His Dark Materials” series) 

“Philip Goff’s new book, Galileo’s Error, introduces the public to a revolutionary approach to one of the most stubborn of mysteries: How does the brain, with its chemical and electrical processes, give rise to a mind, whose thoughts, emotions, colors and tones we apprehend directly?  In this provocative, brave, and clearly written book, Goff makes a compelling case for an initially absurd thesis: that the colors we perceive are instances of universal qualities hidden within all material processes.” (Lee Smolin, author of Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution and founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics)

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  • BlackMalePower
  • 2019-11-23

Pan-Psychism Explained

Goff makes a great case for the marriage of physics with philosophy. Finding the words, science, and data to explain consciousness have been elusive since the beginning of time. Finally a good explanation for not just how, but why consciousness pervades the universe.

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  • ginger
  • 2020-01-23

Good but basic

The book is well-written and builds an excellent arena for competing belief systems. He lays out relevant historical anchor points where world view has changed in the last millennium and articulated that much of our culture’s current popular philosophical position has no more proof than angels and magic beans. He doesn’t say magic beans but he does talk about why angels should not be factored into an evidence-based view of reality than should the idea that matter is dead and mechanistic. The author concludes that pan-psychism shakes out as the most likely accurate explanation of reality but I felt he defended materialism with more substance even while he pointed out its flaws and tendency to use blind faith arguments while criticizing blind faith. I would have liked more discussion of modern pan-psychism because, in the end, I gained little to use in my debates with tribalistic, self-involved, dogmatic worshipers of science as a religion rather than a process for discovery. I will concede that it turned me onto some interesting further study about brain surgery and plant problem solving. I just think he had room to go do much further. It’s a great book if you’re new to the concept of bridging quantum physics and Newtonian physics with consciousness as a principle ingredient. It just feels unfinished.