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Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking Paperback – May 5, 2014
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Dennett declares that his aim in Intuition Pumps is to lay out devices by which we might think more clearly, or with more insight, about a host of thorny topics—which might be boiled down to those many areas in which we errantly or too hastily assume we have a solid sense of the right and wrong answers. The sheer number of these thought experiments, geared to reveal how thoroughly incorrect our assumptions might be, is daring itself. The most provocative comprise consciousness, free will, and our own sense of what we mean by meaning and intend by speaking of intentionality—in other words, the philosophical terrain Dennett has explored extensively in his prior books. —Eric Banks --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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
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Just loved another of his books (How the Mind Works) and was looking forward to this one.
However, this is really philosophy, with little or nothing of the neurobiology that made his other book such a great read.
Gets a bit dense at times.
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.
I'm not sure I'd recommend this to a friend unless I felt that friend would understand this. Daniel Dennett is a philosopher and an atheist, although his atheism doesn't show that much, he hints at it. However, that is not the point of the book.
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Mostly just what philosophers debate.Read more