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Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking [Hardcover]

Daniel C Dennett
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 May 2013

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.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (6 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846144752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846144752
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[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)

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but... 27 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A useful book if you're looking for a range of methods to prime your intellectual pumps. Dennett is generally a good writer and this book is accessible and readable.

Perhaps it is too much like a compilation of techniques, many of them usefully collected together, but not usefully organised for application. The writing is a bit too breezy and perhaps at times pejorative.

I have had to extract the material and draw on my own use of these and other methods to turn them into methods I can use in my work (so they don't just stay as philosophical oddities or games philosophers play!). My charting of the methods in the book has been added to my own tool kit of analytical and methodological policy and problem solving tools.

If you're interested in collecting ideas, book is useful. If you actually want to use the book, you'll be disappointed. Having said that, if you feel stuck in a rut, then the book will at least show you there are many ways to get out, and perhaps in the end that is all many of us need. Sorry DD.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 20 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a great book for thinking about consciousness, meaning and thinking in general. It is quite thorough and requires some tenacity to cope with the detail; but well worth it. The Giant Robot thought experiment is particularly excellent, but you have to read what goes before to appreciate it.

Read this book and progress further in your quest to understand more of life, the universe and everything.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sky hooks or Cranes ? 11 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Dennett I enjoy his lectures on YouTube & TED but for some reason his usual well explained prose seemed to be lost on me , some chapters had to be re read so I could get the gist of his ideas , most of the book however is understandable & enlightening, lots of things to think about in this book , of course it is a book about thinking . Worth reading if you have some background knowledge of Dennetts philosophy's . Evolution affects every aspect of our lives , biologically & culturally . To use a Dennettism I "sorta" get it.
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By Mike N
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most (or perhaps all) of Dennett's "Intuition Pumps" have been mentioned elsewhere by him. In fact he specifically mentions that he leaves out some of the most popular since they have already been covered in so much detail elsewhere.

As always though, Dennett provides a thought provoking and fascinating read. He's also extremely fair, pointing out when others disagree with him and giving references for further reading.

Though the book is a collection of tools, thought experiments and other ways to improve your critical thinking abilities, I would recommend reading it from start to finish - at least the first time - rather than dipping in and out to bits that look interesting. This is simply because he lays groundwork earlier to be used in the discussion of problems and their solutions later. Jumping around between chapters (however tempting) may mean you miss out on some of these connections.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intuition Pumps and Other tools for thinking. 23 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved Dennett's book Darwin's Brilliant idea. He is very technical but usually explains things for the average person. This started off well, but then got rather complicated and he "pumps" in lots of theories. I will have to re-read it to absorb it all.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Makes you appreciate Dawkins...and Oasis 9 April 2014
By sean
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a student, I was disparaging of the Selfish Gene. The ideas were not original and the tone was that of an Oxford smarty-pants. Now I realise that Dawkins spotted that a lot of new ideas appearing at the time came together in a revolutionary way. He spotted that, put them together and gave them a snappy name, which had a big, and original, impact. I can now overlook the Oxford tone.

It is unavoidable to compare all popular science books to the Selfish Gene, and the overblown title of Dennett's book makes it fair game. I imagine an agent saying, 'time for a new book, Papa needs a new pair of shoes, just toss together those scraps, public they likey scrappies, call Dawkins a genius and he'll write a puff for the cover and kerching!'

It is probably a service to introduce new generations to the great, old, ideas, so books like this are fine in principle. But this book manages to make the whole less than the sum of the parts. For example, Borges' short story, the Library of Babel, provides a fascinating and powerful insight into the idea of infinity: the question of the relationship between differences in DNA and the differences we see between species is fascinating. But here they are shoved together to form some ghastly meaningless chimera leaving me asking, 'how did nobody notice this abomination?' And we are constantly reminded of the genesis of this book as collected scraps by, for example, an account of how automation can replace human elevator operators. This illustrates what? Nothing.

Still, I have hope that perhaps a smart, curious teenager with a short attention span may find it useful to learn the names of some ideas that can usefully be explored on Wikipedia.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very thought provoking and clear 14 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A brilliant account by a biologically accomplished philosopher of the tricks of thought used by proponents of theories of conciousness and the mind. Requires detailed attention but the reward make this book worth that effort
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolving concepts
This is a book about thought experiments. Dennett uses the notion to cover many of his philosophical ideas and to elucidate their connection with those of Richard Dawkins. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Freelancer Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars a book to read slowly, over time
Dennett is not everyone's taste, but this book stands a chance of giving you really new thoughts 1 2 3
Published 5 months ago by Hector
5.0 out of 5 stars heavy going but worth the effort
Bought more out of curiosity when I heard an interview with the author on Radio 4 this was a tough but fascinating read. Definite food for thought.
Published 7 months ago by J. Macrae
5.0 out of 5 stars book purchase
it was a present for my huband, he loves it, couldnt find it in the shops at all and was beginning to despair of ever finding it
Published 8 months ago by janet roebuck
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think so much that it hurts.
Mr Dennett's writing style is entertaining and illuminating even if the subject matter is difficult to get to grips with. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Iosaiph
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear approach to modern thinking
This is well and clearly written and puts together some very interesting arguments about the way that complex systems can evolve from simple parts, and how consciousness could... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs L P Antill
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
A super book - beautifully presented. Having read a review i am finding this complicated set of propositions as accessible as they could be through the pleasant print and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by pim jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars myth busting, uncomfortable, challenging, beliefs shaking
The Babel library is such a fine example, though the computer part should have either been left out, or approached (and deep dug into) from the "consciousness levels"... Read more
Published 8 months ago by JF Brouillet
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