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Piotrowski, Z.A. (1955). Abramson, Harold A. (ed.). Problems of Consciousness. 4th Conference. [New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1954. Pp. 177. $3.25.]. Psychoanal. Rev., 42(1):106-107.

(1955). Psychoanalytic Review, 42(1):106-107

Book Reviews

Abramson, Harold A. (ed.). Problems of Consciousness. 4th Conference. [New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1954. Pp. 177. $3.25.]

Review by:
Z. A. Piotrowski

This is the record of the fourth, 1953, interdisciplinary conference on consciousness, sponsored by the Macy Foundation. Twenty-three scientists discussed, as a group, one of the most difficult problems. One might say that the discussants showed little interest in consciousness for their thoughts meandered. Much was said about interpersonal relationships and practically nothing about the unconscious. Apparently this resulted from the decision to postpone defining consciousness until the last and fifth conference next year. Thus the discussion lacked a focus. The remarks covered a great many and very diverse points. The desire to delay the definitions is understandable for there are at least 15 logically distinguishable definitions of the unconscious, and, thus, there are at least 15 different definitions of the conscious. On the other hand, the best way of clarifying a concept is to compare it with its opposite, A with non-A. Moreover, a definition even though tentative is necessary if the discussion is to be relevant and creative. No previous attempts at explaining the conscious and no earlier formulations of the problems related to the concept were considered, although this would have aided the conferees. A strong preference was shown for models based on physical field theories greatly simplified. When transferred to biology, these mechanical schemes become very ambitious for they try to explain interpersonal relationships (these more than the conscious were the topic of the conference) in terms of spatiotemporal relations.

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