- Paperback: 672 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Later prt. edition (January 17, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393318486
- ISBN-13: 978-0393318487
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 273 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How the Mind Works Later prt. Edition
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Why do fools fall in love? Why does a man's annual salary, on average, increase $600 with each inch of his height? When a crack dealer guns down a rival, how is he just like Alexander Hamilton, whose face is on the ten-dollar bill? How do optical illusions function as windows on the human soul? Cheerful, cheeky, occasionally outrageous MIT psychologist Steven Pinker answers all of the above and more in his marvelously fun, awesomely informative survey of modern brain science. Pinker argues that Darwin plus canny computer programs are the key to understanding ourselves--but he also throws in apt references to Star Trek, Star Wars, The Far Side, history, literature, W. C. Fields, Mozart, Marilyn Monroe, surrealism, experimental psychology, and Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty and his 888 children. If How the Mind Works were a rock show, tickets would be scalped for $100. This book deserved its spot as Number One on bestseller lists. It belongs on a short shelf alongside such classics as Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, by Daniel C. Dennett, and The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright. Pinker's startling ideas pop out as dramatically as those hidden pictures in a Magic Eye 3D stereogram poster, which he also explains in brilliantly lucid prose. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
MIT's Pinker, who received considerable acclaim for The Language Instinct (LJ 2/1/94), turns his attention to how the mind functions and how and why it evolved as it did. The author relies primarily on the computational theory of mind and the theory of the natural selection of replicators to explain how the mind perceives, reasons, interacts socially, experiences varied emotions, creates, and philosophizes. Drawing upon theory and research from a variety of disciplines (most notably cognitive science and evolutionary biology) and using the principle of "reverse-engineering," Pinker speculates on what the mind was designed to do and how it has evolved into a system of "psychological faculties or mental modules." His latest book is extraordinarily ambitious, often complex, occasionally tedious, frequently entertaining, and consistently challenging. Appropriate for academic and large public libraries.?Laurie Bartolini, MacMurray Coll. Lib., Jacksonville, Ill.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It is not in my opinion as good a book as The Language Instinct, nor as good as The Blank Slate, which it resembles in some ways (I am reading them simultaneously, though I read TBS years ago for the first time, and you can't help but notice the cross-over). So, I considered giving it four stars. But, then I decided, it is such a powerful performance, and so well written, that it shouldn't get less than five stars just because he didn't surpass himself. I have another book of his on tap and I'm going to get right to it.
I will offer this minor criticism. Have you ever sat through a fireworks display that just never ended? It might have benefitted from a little tighter editing, but it seems like he just doesn't want to leave anything out. If he knows it, he want us to know it too.
Pinker is constantly (confidently, convincingly) presenting plausible theories and then providing evidence that they are true. In at least one place, that confidence is misplaced. He speaks favorably of Frank Sulloway’s Born to Rebel theory that later born children are substantially more likely than firstborns to accept new ideas–because the later borns have to find a place in the world different from the firstborns. However, the theory is no longer taken seriously (Judith Rich Harris provides a nice explanation in Appendix 1 to The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and Updated).
Many readers will feel that he has made similar mistakes in the many pages on “male and female.” He thinks that there are, on average, more differences between human males and females than just size and strength. My advice: understand what he has to say and compare it to your own experience and the experience of people you know. Be your own scientist testing his hypotheses.
Pinker is at pains to say that just because differences are natural doesn’t mean they are good or that we are a slave to them. A later book of his, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues that we have a capacity for violence (more male than female!) but that violent behavior has drastically declined over the course of history
Steven Pinker is a genius and his argument about natural selection and how it shaped the very low levels of brain's neural network is on point.
This book is very informative for the average science fan who wants to know more about the nature of intelligence and the substance in our brain that makes us conscious.
I highly recommend this book.
How the Mind Works is one of Steven Pinkers' book that has won prizes. In this text, there are several main ideas that Steven Pinker discusses. Pinker explains several things about the mind and evolution, so there are several main ideas or concepts in this text. Essentially, in this book Steven Pinker tells us how the mind works and how the mind evolves itself. In this book, Pinker also explains how the brain allows us to see, laugh, think, feel, and enjoy life. Besides that, in How the Mind Works, Pinker tends to argue about the theory of mind verses the adaption to evolution. Basically, the theory of the mind that Steven Pinker states throughout the text, is that the human mind is a naturally selected system of organs of computation.
In How the Mind Works, there are several topics that are covered. However, Steven Pinker focuses on two topics throughout the whole book, which are evolution and computation. One of the topics or arguments that Pinker talks about in the book is that he wants us to think, that the mind is like a computer and that it works with different rules. The second topic that Pinker states is that those rules have been selected by evolution. In the book, Pinker is trying to combine both of these topics that the mind works as a computer with rules that have been selected by evolution. One thing that really helped me understand Pinkers' style in this book is when he explained how the human vision works. He stated that the eye does not only see and record data but instead it also transforms what the eye sees to information and that works with any part of the body. For example, hearing works the same way. The ears are not just listening but instead they are also remembering what they heard and transforming it into information in the brain. Pinker states that the mind was created to solve engineering problems. The type of style of this book is easy to understand because Pinker tends to give a lot of detail of the mind and examples of our vision, our emotions, our family structures and beliefs. His type of style is to state an opinion then connect with examples.
Essentially, there are many things that I think about this book. To start off, this book was very different to other books I have read before. Pinker has a different form of writing and he compares the theory of mind with the adaption of evolution occurring. I think that overall this book has several parts where Pinker connects what he thinks with research and facts, which those facts help him win an audience. For example, in the book Pinker states that their has been research done where surveys have been conducted and the results of those surveys show that many American believe in witches and ghosts. He connected this with religion and stated that the human mind has always found explanations for occurrences based on religious beliefs. Pinker shows how there has been an adaptation of evolution on the human mind. This example, is evidence that Pinker states his opinion on the human mind based on research and facts he has found. I think Pinker does a great job stating what he believes and backing up his thoughts with real data and facts that show how the human mind had developed and essentially how the mind works.
Besides that, I think this book is vey informative and many people can learn new things that they did not know about before. Also, I think that this book really does connect to Neuroscience because there are several things that we learned in class this semester that the book also stated. For example, in the book it talks about several parts of the brain and even body parts that have their own function and how they transfer information to the mind. I connected this to class because we also learned about many parts and functions of the brain. Besides that, there is a part in the book that states that the human brain's evolve from natural selection and genetics. In class, we did learn a little about natural selection and genetics when we were working on the stimulus of the rabbits. I can connect to how in class we discuss how natural selection is a process where a population can change overtime and this is what Pinker states in the book when he states that things have change due to evolution. Basically, the point that Pinker is trying to state throughout the whole book is that the mind is a system of organs, that are made up by natural selection to solve problems from the past, which shows the adaption of evolution.
I usually don't write reviews on a book however, I think this book was well written and I think it's worth reading. I usually do not read science books but in this case I had to read this book for my Neuroscience class and I think I did a good choice in picking this book. I have not read other books by Steven Pinker but after reading How the Mind Works, I'm actually interested in reading some of his other books. Steven Pinker has a different style of writing, which causes several opinions on science from people. In this book Pinker does a great job explaining how the mind has evolved even though some people might disagree in his opinions. I think Steven Pinker goes really deep in his thoughts throughout this book and has great facts that are informative and engage you into the book. At first, I will admit I thought the book was a bit boring but I got interested. I actually think it is a well written book and worth reading. I'm usually not a person to read a science book but I would recommend this book to anyone because there are several things that they can learn about in this book about the mind. Besides that, I think Pinker's form of writing is different but easy to understand. He gives a lot of evidence for the facts that he states and believes. He also addresses many points about the human mind that we might not think about. The science and evidence that he states are valid because they are true facts about the mind and or research that has been proven. Essentially, the main idea Pinker is trying to tell us is that evolution helps us understand why our mind works the way that it does. Basically, I think several people would enjoy reading this book.