'Consciousness'. Christopher Hill. Cambridge University Press. 2009.

D. Hutto

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


Anyone who is looking for a clear, concise and accurate lay of the land with respect to contemporary, analytic, theories of consciousness would do well to get hold of this book. Its first half contains a handy survey and critical assessment of current theories of (1) qualia, and (2) what awareness of qualia involves. Yet it is not a textbook. For its second half, beginning at Chapter five, develops a new, representationalist theory of consciousness. Building on the insightful, but underdeveloped, ideas of Gilbert Harman, Hill’s main ambition is to defend a thorough-going representationalism about consciousness, while, along the way, refuting dualism and establishing that materialism, specifically a central state materialism sort, is still in good nick. He explores the implications of his new theory not just to the central cases of visual awareness and qualia, but also for pain, emotional experience and introspection. Achieving all of that in a short work requires Hill to move through some rather complex, but also rather familiar material, at a good clip. Readers are required to keep up. Doubtless they will find that some topics are not treated in as much depth as they would like to make a fully compelling case; some possible replies have been overlooked. Nevertheless, Hill’s analyses, which are almost always careful and even-handed, are well worth the attention, even if one is not entirely persuaded by the force of his objections or the truth of his positive proposal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-308
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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