A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind

Author: Annaka Harris

Personal Score: 8.3/10

Goodreads Score: 3.91/5

Get it here on Amazon.


The mystery of the mind is a beautiful one with depths far from completely explored. Due to the lack of sufficient tech, it seems we know about as much of consciousness as we do of the deep ocean or space. However the tech has come a long way and results are slowly trickling in giving experts a better understanding of Consciousness. Even though our knowledge of it is shallow you will not come away from this book feeling like there wasn't much to learn. On the contrary, you'll learn enough about the competing theories to believe you're able to form your own opinion on the matter share it with your uncle at the next family gathering. Harris does a great job of clarifying and explaining the expanded frontier to curious newbies. I never felt confused or bored while reading this book. A common flaw in the Science genre. Just excited. You can tell, as a science editor, Harris has a unique position to see all the competing theories objectively. It makes for a fantastic lesson of the minds' inner workings.

🚀This Book in 3 Bullets

  1. In a system that we know has conscious experiences (the human brain), what evidence of consciousness can we detect from the outside? &
  2. Is consciousness essential to our behavior?

*She defines consciousness "An organism is conscious if there is something that it's like to be that organism" Pg.5

  1. Theory of Emergence is conventional and is explained by consciousness emerging from biological evolution at some point in our history - basically that there's a point in evolution in which animals obtain consciousness. This means that there may be animals, plants or bacteria on Earth that don't have consciousness but this naturally begs for further questioning... Like when does it emerge, how would we know when it emerges and why, if other animals have sensory inputs (like touch, sight, etc.), would they not have a focus of experience for those inputs.
  2. Panpsychism which is the more taboo theory but also may be the dark horse (and seems like Annaka's favorite) that explains that all matter has consciousness. It gets a little weird when we begin thinking of metal, wood, and particles as having a form of consciousness however it's strengthened by the Theory of Emergence's inability to prove the 3 questions posed. Plus, if one opens up to it, it seems to fit the current understanding of consciousness better than any other. Harris warns us not to run away to much with this theory though, which could be easy to do. Saying everything has consciousness may only extend to a focus of sensations provided by sensory inputs which means there has to be inputs... so your dining table isn't plotting against you in the way you might think. My fascination with this theory is it's consequences to how we think about plants. Would we treat plants closer to animals if we knew they experienced external sensations in a similar way?

🕵️‍♀️Who Should Read It?

I think this book would be great to anyone. It's a beginners guide into something we can all relate to and its implications will make everyone second guess their reality. It's a fun read and at 110 pages, very easy to commit to the finish.

📜Book Summary & Lessons

🎴Top Quotes

Join The Strive Journal!

Each week I condense and share insights, writing and interesting links through my newsletter The Strive Journal. If you are a curious person and want a blend of fascinating content delivered to your inbox, consider signing up.

I do my best to make sure it’s the best email you receive every week.

You're almost there...

Confirm your subscription!

1. A confirmation email was sent to you
. Please click the confirmation button in this email to complete your subscription. If you don’t see this within a couple of minutes, make sure to check your promotions/spam folder.

2. Add to your address book to make sure that you get every weeks issue of Strive Journal!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.