Thinking is hard - yet barely a waking moment passes when we're not labouring away at it. A few of us may be natural geniuses, able to work through the toughest tangles in an instant; others, blessed with reserves of willpower, stay the course in the dogged pursuit of truth. Then there's the rest of us. Not prodigies and a little bit lazy, but still aspiring to understand the world and our place in it. What can we do?
In Intuition Pumps, Daniel Dennett, one of the world's most original and provocative thinkers, takes us on a profound, illuminating and highly entertaining philosophical journey. He reveals a collection of his favourite thinking tools, or 'intuition pumps', that he and others have developed for addressing life's most fundamental questions. Along with new discussions of familiar moves - Occam's Razor, reductio ad absurdum - Dennett offers cognitive tools built for the most treacherous subject matter: evolution, meaning, consciousness and free will. In his genial style, Dennett guides readers around the pitfalls in arguments, and reveals easier ways to better understand the world around us and our place in it.
An enlightening and practical store of knowledge, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking will teach you to think truly independently and creatively.
[Praise for Daniel Dennett's Freedom Evolves]:
'This is a serious book with a brilliant message' Matt Ridley, Sunday Telegraph
'Dennett has produced the most powerful and ingenious attempt at reconciling Darwinism with the belief in human freedom to date' John Gray, The Independent
'An outstandingly good book. There is no better philosophical exponent of what evolutionary biology really means' The Times
Daniel Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world. A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies. His books include Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained, Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Freedom Evolves. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts.
A grab-bag of metaphors and thought experiments, some more enlightening than others, structure this scattershot treatise on the philosophy of mind. Tufts philosophy professor Dennett (Consciousness Explained) rehashes favorite themes from previous works: how consciousness arises from the brain s decentralized information-processing; how Darwinian natural selection explains the development of complex structure from simple origins in innumerable contexts; how computers and artificial intelligence make potent explanatory models of the mind; the existence of free will in a deterministic universe. Opening with an engaging tutorial on argumentative strategies from reductio ad absurdum to Occam s Razor to rhetorical questions, Dennett expounds his ideas through a series of intuition pumps, his term for the hypothetical scenarios philosophers contrive to explore difficult concepts. Some of these, like conceiving of the body as a robotic survival vehicle for the genes, or the brain as a clueless man trapped in a sealed chamber, are evocative. Others, like an obscure meditation on a vending machine that accepts Panamanian balboas instead of U. S. quarters, are not. In his loose-limbed excursions Dennett presents compelling expositions of provocative ideas, spars with rival thinkers and, sometimes, bogs down in long-winded belaborings of tiresome points. The result is an intellectual smorgasbord with dishes both tasty and indigestible. 31 illus.