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The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding Hardcover – 6 Apr 2017

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding
  • +
  • The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom
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  • Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts that Will Save Us
Total price: £52.02
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846145570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145575
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Filled with lively stories and vivid examples (involving ants, monsters, mosquitoes and dust bunnies, as well as paltry humans) ... its central thesis is sharp and convincing ... the argumentative theory of reason makes sense of human irrationality. (Times Literary Supplement)

Praise for Sperber and Mercier's work:
Revolutionary

(New York Times)

Fascinating and provocative (Wired)

Fascinating (Psychology Today)

From the Inside Flap

Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. But, if reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If it is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? In their ground-breaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma, taking us on a journey from desert ants to modern scientists, and from Aristotle to Daniel Kahneman. Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs and decisions on our own. What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications and arguments that they address to us.

In other words, reason has evolved to help humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment. This illuminating interpretation of reason makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologists - why reason is biased in favour of what we already believe, why it may lead to terrible ideas and yet is indispensable to spreading good ones. Ambitious, provocative, and entertaining, The Enigma of Reason will spark debate among psychologists and philosophers, and make many reasonable people rethink their own thinking.

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7 July 2018
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