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The Enigma of Reason
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The Enigma of Reason

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Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? In their groundbreaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma. 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 others address to us.

In other words, reason helps humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment. This interactionist interpretation explains why reason may have evolved and how it fits with other cognitive mechanisms. It makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologists--why reason is biased in favor 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.

Title:The Enigma of Reason
ISBN:0674368304
Format Type:Hardcover
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    The Enigma of Reason Reviews

  • Carl Nelson
    Apr 16, 2017

    A persuasive and well argued claim for the interactionist view of reason in contrast to the intellectualist view of reason. By this view reason evolved to support social interaction including the stat...

  • Daniel Schulof
    May 05, 2017

    A fantastic book. Presents a very compelling alternative to (expansion of?) the Kahneman-ian dual systems model of cognition and a compelling enough evolutionary explanation for the existing state of ...

  • Rhys
    May 04, 2017

    A compelling case for an interactionist perspective of human reason. "The ability to produce and evaluate reasons has not evolved in order to improve psychological insight but as a tool for defending ...

  • Joo Eira
    May 04, 2017

    Probably best book I'll read this year. Need to go let it rest for a while then go through my notes one more time, and I'll write something about the ideas presented here....