- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 5, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393348784
- ISBN-13: 978-0393348781
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 146 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking Paperback – May 5, 2014
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“An excellent introduction to Dennett’s body of thought.”
- Boston Globe
“One of the most original thinkers of our time.”
- Michael Shermer, Science
“Perhaps America’s most widely read (and debated) living philosopher. . . . [Intuition Pumps is] a lively primer on the radical answers Mr. Dennett has elaborated to the big questions in his nearly five decades in philosophy”
- New York Times
“The sharpest, cleverest, most stylish prober of how issues of human consciousness interconnect today with evolutionary theory.”
- Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer
“A philosopher’s box of tools for the musing mind.”
““[Dennett] is a master at inventing tools for thought― metaphysical jokes, fables, parables, puzzles, and zany Monty-Python-like sketches that can help thinkers feel their way forward.”
- Daily Beast
About the Author
Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and the author of numerous books including Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, Breaking the Spell, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and Consciousness Explained.
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Why 3 stars and not 2 or 1, then? Like I said, Dennett is very smart, and the book got me thinking even after I abandoned it. If you like this type of abstract meandering, maybe you'll like this. Otherwise, I'd recommend sticking to past and current stoics and people like Sam Harris for discussions about consciousness and free will.
The book starts with the simplest of tools, such as making mistakes. Dennett illuminates how making mistakes is not just ok but desirable since it's perhaps the only way to hone a system of thinking into a useful device. Other parts of the book cover concepts like reductio ad absurdum, Occam's Razor and the wittily-named Occam's Broom which is sometimes used nefariously to sweep arguments under the rug. There's a fair amount of ground Dennett covers before he gets to the concept stated in the book's name - intuition pumps. Intuition pumps refer to anything - from thought experiments to linguistic devices - that somehow make us bypass the process of rigorous thinking and reach a revelation primarily through intuition. One of the virtues of the book is how it describes examples of both good and bad intuition pumps including sleights of hand used by politicians and pseudoscientists. I was quite impressed by Dennett's attention to even very simple tools invoked through common expressions; for instance one of the fallacies he describes is the use of the word "rather" that's routinely used to set up a false dichotomy.
Given Dennett's other writings, it's not surprising to find him often refer to evolution as a rich mine for many of the tools. Variation, making mistakes, and generating lots of ideas to pick the best ones are all traits of the evolutionary process. Dennett also draws on work by diverse thinkers, from Wittgenstein to Stephen Jay Gould to Douglas Adams, to illustrate the power and pitfalls of language and thought. His trademark subtle (and not so subtle) wit and familiarity with a vast amount of pop culture and science is clearly apparent in the writing. The book will definitely reward those who like to think about thinking, and it's one I can definitely see myself periodically savoring like a plate of diverse appetizers.