Illusionism as a Theory of Consciousness

Back cover of Illusionism book
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Front cover of Illusionism book

edited by Keith Frankish

Publisher: Imprint Academic
Format: Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher: Imprint Academic
ISBN-13: 978-1845409579
ISBN-10: 1845409574
Publication date: 1 December 2017


Illusionism is the view that phenomenal consciousness (in the philosophers’ sense) is an introspective illusion — that introspection misrepresents experiences as having phenomenal properties. This view has many theoretical attractions, but it is often dismissed out of hand for failing to take consciousness seriously. The aim of this volume is to present the case for illusionism, discuss objections to it, and stimulate debate about this important but relatively neglected position.

The book takes the form of a target paper by the editor, followed by commentaries from various thinkers, including leading defenders of illusionism, such as Daniel Dennett, Nicholas Humphrey, Derk Pereboom, and Georges Rey. A number of disciplines are represented, and there are commentaries from critics of illusionism as well as supporters. The collection is tied together with a response to the commentators from the editor.

This collection first appeared as a special double issue of Journal of Consciousness Studies (Vol. 23, No. 11–12, 2016).


Editorial introduction
Keith Frankish, Illusionism as a theory of consciousness (target article)
Katalin Balog, Illusionism’s discontent
Sue Blackmore, Delusions of consciousness
Daniel Dennett, Illusionism as the obvious default theory of consciousness
Jay Garfield, Illusionism and givenness
Philip Goff, Is realism about consciousness compatible with a scientifically respectable world view?
Michael Graziano, Consciousness engineered
Nicholas Humphrey, Redder than red: Illusionism or phenomenal surrealism?
François Kammerer, The hardest aspect of the illusion problem – and how to solve it
Pete Mandik, Meta-illusionism and qualia quietism
Nicole L. Marinsek and Michael S. Gazzaniga, A split-brain perspective on illusionism
Martine Nida-Rumelin, The illusion of illusionism
Derk Pereboom, Illusionism and anti-functionalism about phenomenal consciousness
Jesse Prinz, Against illusionism
Georges Rey, Taking consciousness seriously — as an illusion!
Amber Ross, Illusionism and the epistemological problems facing phenomenal realism
Eric Schwitzgebel, Phenomenal consciousness, defined and defended as innocently as I can manage
James Tartaglia, What is at stake in illusionism?
Keith Frankish, Not disillusioned: Reply to commentators


Editorial introduction
Book preview on Google Books


“Illusionism is one of the most important strategies for addressing the problem of consciousness. This volume brings illusionism some of the attention it deserves, with a magisterial paper defending the view by Keith Frankish and interesting and illuminating commentaries from all over the philosophical map.”
David Chalmers, author of The Conscious Mind

“In a really cracking issue of the JCS (possibly the best I’ve read) Keith Frankish sets out and defends the thesis of illusionism, with a splendid array of responses from supporters and others.”
Peter Hankins, author of the Conscious Entities blog. (Read Hankins’s full review of the volume.)