Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
With sales of well over one million copies in North America alone, the commercial success of Gould's books now matches their critical acclaim. The Panda's Thumb will introduce a new generation of readers to this unique writer, who has taken the art of the scientific essay to new heights.
Were dinosaurs really dumber than lizards? Why, after all, are roughly the same number of men and women born into the world? What led the famous Dr. Down to his theory of mongolism, and its racist residue? What do the panda's magical "thumb" and the sea turtle's perilous migration tell us about imperfections that prove the evolutionary rule? The wonders and mysteries of evolutionary biology are elegantly explored in these and other essays by the celebrated natural history writer Stephen Jay Gould.
When Brainstorms was published in 1978, the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science was just emerging. Daniel Dennett was a young scholar who wanted to get philosophers out of their armchairs—and into conversations with psychologists, linguists, computer scientists. This collection of seventeen essays by Dennett offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will. Using careful arguments and ingenious thought experiments, the author exposes familiar preconceptions and hobbling intuitions. The essays are grouped into four sections: “Intentional Explanation and Attributions of Mentality”; “The Nature of Theory in Psychology”; “Objects of Consciousness and the Nature of Experience”; and “Free Will and Personhood.”
This anniversary edition includes a new introduction by Dennett, “Reflections on Brainstorms after Forty Years,” in which he recalls the book's original publication by Harry and Betty Stanton of Bradford Books and considers the influence and afterlife of some of the essays. For example, “Mechanism and Responsibility” was Dennett's first articulation of his concept of the intentional stance; “Are Dreams Experiences?” anticipates the major ideas in his 1991 book Consciousness Explained; and “Where Am I?” has been variously represented in a BBC documentary, a student's Javanese shadow puppet play, and a feature-length film made in the Netherlands, Victim of the Brain.