Direct versus Indirect Realism

Direct versus Indirect Realism

A Neurophilosophical Debate on Consciousness

1st Edition - January 12, 2018

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  • Editors: John Smythies, Robert French
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128121412
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128121429

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Direct versus Indirect Realism: A Neurophilosophical Debate on Consciousness brings together leading neuroscientists and philosophers to explain and defend their theories on consciousness. The book offers a one-of-a-kind look at the radically opposing theories concerning the nature of the objects of immediate perception—whether these are distal physical objects or phenomenal experiences in the conscious mind. Each side—neuroscientists and philosophers—offers accessible, comprehensive explanations of their points-of-view, with each side also providing a response to the other that offers a unique approach on opposing positions. It is the only book available that combines thorough discussion of the arguments behind both direct and indirect realism in a single resource, and is required reading for neuroscientists, neurophilosophers, cognitive scientists and anyone interested in conscious perception and the mind-brain connection.

Key Features

  • Combines discussion of both direct realism and indirect realism in a single, accessible resource
  • Provides a thorough, well-rounded understanding of not only the opposing views of neuroscientists and philosophers on the nature of conscious perception, but also insight into why the opposition persists
  • Offers a unique "dialog" approach, with neuroscientists and philosophers providing responses and rebuttals to one another’s contributions


Advanced students and researchers in cognitive neuroscience, neurophilosophy, neuropsychology, and related areas studying perception, consciousness, and theory of mind

Table of Contents

  • Section 1: Indirect Realists
    1. The Metaphysical Foundations of Contemporary Neuroscience: A House Built on Straw
    2. A Defense of Representational Realism
    3. Direct Realism: A Perspective from the Neurosciences
    4. Against the Combination of Materialism and Direct Realism

    Section 2: Direct Realists
    5. Disjunctive Naive Realism
    6. A Non-naive Direct Realist Account of Perceptual Experience
    7. The Epistemological version of Direct Realism
    8. The Distinction between Metaphysical and Epistemological Direct Realism
    9. Seeing Things
    10. Conclusions

Product details

  • No. of pages: 298
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2018
  • Published: January 12, 2018
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128121412
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128121429

About the Editors

John Smythies

John Smythies is a neuropsychiatrist and neuroscientist and has made significant contributions to both these disciplines. Together with Humphrey Osmond he developed the first biochemical theory of schizophrenia—the transmethylation hypothesis. This has recently come back into focus following the finding that DNA methylation is abnormal in schizophrenia. He has made extensive contributions to knowledge in a number of fields including the neuropharmacology of psychedelic drugs; the functional neuroanatomy of synapses with particular regard to the role of synaptic plasticity, endocytosis and redox factors ; the role in the brain of orthoquinone metabolites of catecholamines; and, in particular, theories of brain-consciousness relations. More recently he has worked on epigenetic processes in information processing in the brain, and the functional neuroanatomy of the claustrum. Smythies has served as President of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology from 1970-1974, Consultant to the World Health Organization from 1963-1968, and Editor of the International Review of Neurobiology from 1958-1991. He was elected a member of the Athenaeum in 1968. He has published over 240 scientific papers and sixteen books. Smythies has held positions as the Charles Byron Ireland Professor of Psychiatric Research at the University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham, Visiting Scholar at the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California San Diego, and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Neurology, University College London.

Affiliations and Expertise

Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, USA

Robert French

Robert French is a philosopher who specializes in Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Perception Epistemology. He is the author of The Geometry of Vision and the Mind Body Problem (Peter Lang, 1987) and Ethical Decision-Making from a Consequentialist Perspective (Edward Mellen Press, 2008). He is an instructor in philosophy at Oakland Community College in Waterford, Michigan..

Affiliations and Expertise

Oakland Community College, Waterford, Michigan, USA

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