Physics has given us an understanding of the fundamental nature of the material world. But as Goff persuasively shows, we lack this kind of understanding of consciousness ... One of Goff’s many achievements in this book is that he makes the fundamental problem of consciousness vivid and, moreover, comprehensible to non-experts ... Goff’s book is packed with rich discussions of many topics, in clear, charming, easily readable prose ... We also find a powerful defence of the idea that philosophy itself can plumb reality’s depths ... panpsychism: the view that all matter enjoys some degree of consciousness. This is undoubtedly a radical view. Notably, however, Goff does an excellent job of motivating this position, showing that it makes real advances over its traditional materialist and dualist rivals ... There are serious difficulties with panpsychism; yet Goff not only makes plausible this most difficult of views, he also does so while making it accessible to a wide audience. Meanwhile, he leaves the academic philosophers plenty to argue about among themselves.
The author aims to restore the problem of consciousness as an object of scientific inquiry, not easy in a time when, as he notes, many philosophers consider consciousness to be a kind of elaborate illusion ... An earnest effort to describe the indescribable, of interest to students of philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology.
Philip Goff’s exploration of consciousness in Galileo’s Error may not be entirely convincing, but it is at least interesting ... Mr. Goff’s version of materialism, however, is misleadingly crude. Indeed, any number of materialists will be furious at how Mr. Goff portrays them ... If we could be persuaded of the truth of panpsychism, Mr. Goff says in his final chapter, it could transform our worldview ... This section of Mr. Goff’s argument warms the heart more than it persuades the mind ... Read as a provocative polemic, Galileo’s Error gives the reader plenty to think about as well as to shout at. His philosophical opponents may test the limits of his new-found love for all sentient life.
It’s an illuminating introduction to the topic of consciousness. It addresses the real issue—unlike almost all recent popular books on this subject. It stands a good chance of delivering the extremely large intellectual jolt that many people will need if they are to get into (or anywhere near) the right ballpark for thinking about consciousness. This is a great thing. Goff’s historical remarks about panpsychism are misleading, however ... Goff is also wrong to identify materialism, the ancient and overwhelmingly plausible view that everything in the universe including consciousness is wholly material, with the obviously false and hyperscientistic view that everything in the universe, including feelings of pain, sexual joy, experiences of colour, and so on, can be “exhaustively described” (ie described in such a way that its nature is fully conveyed) in the language of the physical sciences.