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How the Mind Works Paperback – June 22, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
In a series of sections, Pinker somewhat dis-connectedly jumps through findings from psychology and brain science to illuminate interesting problems. I found the opening sections - on areas like the mind's eye and how the brain is a thinking machine - far less interesting and compelling.
Pinker describes the brain as a machine that has costs (in tissue, energy, and time) and confers benefits. Knowing where the gold is buried in your neighborhood - and whether it's broadly in the northwest quadrant, or specifically underneath the flowerpot - improves your position because it reduces the physical work required to unearth it. That one bit of information allows 1 man to find the gold which would have taken 100 if the digging was done indiscriminately.
There are some very nice thought experiments in this section:
"What if we took [a brain simulation computer] program and trained a large number of people, say, the population of China, to hold in mind the data and act out the steps? Would there be one gigantic consciousness hovering over China, separate from the consciousness of the billion individuals?Read more ›
Pinker marries Darwin's theory of evolution to the latest developments in neuroscience and computation. He shows in detail how the process of natural selection shaped our entire neurological networks; how the struggle for survival selects from among our genes those most fit to flourish in our environment. Nature has produced in us bodies, brains and minds attuned to coping intelligently with whatever our environment demands. Housed in our bodies, our minds structure neural networks into adaptive programmes for handling our perceptions. Pinker concludes, "The mind is a system of organs of computation, designed by natural selection to solve the kinds of problems our ancestors faced in their foraging way of life."
Our beliefs and desires are information, allowing us to create meaning. "Beliefs are inscriptions in memory, desires are goal inscriptions, thinking is computation, perceptions are inscriptions triggered by sensors, trying is executing operations triggered by a goal." Pinker writes that the mind has a `design stance' for dealing with artefacts, a `physical stance' for dealing with objects, and an `intentional stance' for dealing with people.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am extremely happy with my purchase .Great price . excellent customer care.Published 1 month ago by Ali Topcu
Extensively researched. Balanced arguments. Well written, making a difficult subject come alive.Published 2 months ago by Malcolm J Panthaki
FAST Ship and New Condition, at a great price. What more is there to say?Published 3 months ago by xikum
Great minds change our minds! Looking the world through different lenses is the essence of lifePublished 4 months ago by Alexandre Bastos Penteado
Although some reviewers think that this book does not tell us how the mind works, it certainly does that. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Hans van den Berg
Having a cognitive scientist as a brother, a lot of the material is a comfortable review of conversations from my past. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robert
I had to read this book in college when studying Minds and Machines and fell in love with it. It's not an easy read, but worth every effort. Read morePublished 5 months ago by King R
Pinker is always incredibly lucid and entertaining. My brain never hurts, but I always feel smarter after a reading Pinker.Published 5 months ago by Peter Silva