One permeating idea of this book is that the development of thinking can be described as the detachment of more and more representations. The brain of a newborn chimpanzee is 60% of its adult size, while that of a Homo sapiens newborn baby is just 25% - and relative to Homo erectus 500,000 years ago, homo sapiens brain is 20% larger. Consciousness is described as (1) sensations (2) perceptions and finally (3) Homo sapiens imagination. Memory is (1) procedural (2) semantic and finally (3) Homo sapiens episodic. There are four levels of causal understanding (1) being able to foresee the physical effects of one's own actions (2) being able to foresee the effects of others' actions (3) understanding the causes of others' actions and (4) understanding the causes of physical events. Monkeys and Apes have serious problems with level (4). The differences between these and evolution from monkeys and Great Apes to Homo sapiens, is clearly described in the text. I wonder if Orangutan like music?
I found Gardenfors investigation into what really constitutes human thinking, and how that is radically distinct from the cognition of other creatures, in particular the great apes, to be satisfying and compelling. This book, despite its relatively small size, is an indepth exploration of what it is to be human in congitive terms. He delineates with precision and care the additional capacities that humans possess, in particular our capacity for representing what others think, and marks out where he sees the boundaries as lying between, typically, chimpanzee and human cognition. For anyone interested in what divides us from the rest of the animal kingdom, of what makes us unique as thinking animals, this book, in a light and non-technical fashion, makes that division extremely clear in addition to exploring what underlies our capacity for language in distinct cognitive terms. A highly recommended title!
This is a very credible attempt to isolate the individual "modules" of thinking and to explain why each evolved and in what order they evolved, with interesting excursions into the abilities of various animals. It is very readably and charmingly written. It has lots of interesting thoughts to follow up. My kind of book.