How the Mind Works

W. W. Norton & Company
47
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"A model of scientific writing: erudite, witty, and clear." —New York Review of Books

In this Pulitzer Prize finalist and national bestseller, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness? How the Mind Works synthesizes the most satisfying explanations of our mental life from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and other fields to explain what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and contemplate the mysteries of life.

This edition of Pinker's bold and buoyant classic is updated with a new foreword by the author.

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“If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this—the most inspiring book I've ever read."
—Bill Gates (May, 2017)

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

The author of Enlightenment Now and The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millenia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, programs, gruesom punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the esesnce of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives--the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away--and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.  
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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Jun 22, 2009
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Pages
672
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ISBN
9780393069730
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Neuroscience
Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Science / Life Sciences / Anatomy & Physiology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The saying "It's a jungle out there" refers to a competitive environment in which you'd better hone your skills if you hope to survive. And you'd better do what you can to keep a roof over your head, food in your belly, a leaf on your loins, and a mate who'll help pass on your genes to the next generation of jungle Jims and Janes. Distinguished professor and cognitive psychologist David Rosenbaum takes this metaphor of surviving in the wild and applies it to the competitive arena within the brain. He argues that the overarching theory of biology, Darwin's theory, should be the overarching theory of cognitive psychology, the science of mental functioning. He explores this new and intriguing idea by showing how neural elements compete and cooperate in a kind of inner jungle, where only the fittest survive. Competition within your brain does as much to shape who you are as the physical and figurative competition you face externally. Just as the jungle night seethes with noisy creatures beckoning their mates, issuing their warnings, and settling their arguments, you might have trouble falling asleep at night because the thoughts in your head are fighting for their chance at survival. Rosenbaum's pursuit of this bold idea explains why we are shaped into who we are, for better or worse, because we are the hosts of inner battlefields. Written in a light-hearted tone and with reference to hypothetical neural "creatures" making their way in a tough environment, Rosenbaum makes cognitive psychology and his theory easy to understand and exciting to ponder. Rather than rely on the series of disconnected phenomena and collection of curiosities that often constitute cognitive psychology, It's a Jungle in There provides a fascinating way to place all cognitive phenomena under one flourishing tree.
A proposal for a fully post-phrenological neuroscience that details the evolutionary roots of functional diversity in brain regions and networks.

The computer analogy of the mind has been as widely adopted in contemporary cognitive neuroscience as was the analogy of the brain as a collection of organs in phrenology. Just as the phrenologist would insist that each organ must have its particular function, so contemporary cognitive neuroscience is committed to the notion that each brain region must have its fundamental computation. In After Phrenology, Michael Anderson argues that to achieve a fully post-phrenological science of the brain, we need to reassess this commitment and devise an alternate, neuroscientifically grounded taxonomy of mental function.

Anderson contends that the cognitive roles played by each region of the brain are highly various, reflecting different neural partnerships established under different circumstances. He proposes quantifying the functional properties of neural assemblies in terms of their dispositional tendencies rather than their computational or information-processing operations. Exploring larger-scale issues, and drawing on evidence from embodied cognition, Anderson develops a picture of thinking rooted in the exploitation and extension of our early-evolving capacity for iterated interaction with the world. He argues that the multidimensional approach to the brain he describes offers a much better fit for these findings, and a more promising road toward a unified science of minded organisms.

Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior brings together, for the first time, the experiments and theories that have created the new science of rules. Rules are central to human behavior, but until now the field of neuroscience lacked a synthetic approach to understanding them. How are rules learned, retrieved from memory, maintained in consciousness and implemented? How are they used to solve problems and select among actions and activities? How are the various levels of rules represented in the brain, ranging from simple conditional ones if a traffic light turns red, then stop to rules and strategies of such sophistication that they defy description? And how do brain regions interact to produce rule-guided behavior? These are among the most fundamental questions facing neuroscience, but until recently there was relatively little progress in answering them. It was difficult to probe brain mechanisms in humans, and expert opinion held that animals lacked the capacity for such high-level behavior. However, rapid progress in neuroimaging technology has allowed investigators to explore brain mechanisms in humans, while increasingly sophisticated behavioral methods have revealed that animals can and do use high-level rules to control their behavior. The resulting explosion of information has led to a new science of rules, but it has also produced a plethora of overlapping ideas and terminology and a field sorely in need of synthesis. In this book, Silvia Bunge and Jonathan Wallis bring together the worlds leading cognitive and systems neuroscientists to explain the most recent research on rule-guided behavior. Their work covers a wide range of disciplines and methods, including neuropsychology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neurophysiology, electroencephalography, neuropharmacology, near-infrared spectroscopy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. This unprecedented synthesis is a must-read for anyone interested in how complex behavior is controlled and organized by the brain.
A new academic field, neuroeconomics, has emerged at the border of the social and natural sciences. In Foundations of Neuroeconomic Analysis, Paul Glimcher argues that a meaningful interdisciplinary synthesis of the study of human and animal choice is not only desirable, but also well underway, and so it is time to formally develop a foundational approach for the field. He does so by laying the philosophical and empirical groundwork and integrating the theory of choice and valuation with the relevant physical constraints and mechanisms. While there has been an intense debate about the value and prospects of neuroeconomics, Glimcher argues that existing data from neuroeconomics' three parent fields, neuroscience, psychology and economics, already specify the basic features of the primate choice mechanism at all three levels of analysis. His central argument is that combining these three disciplines gives us enough insight to define many of the fundamental features of decision making that have previously eluded scholars working within each individual field. With this in mind, Glimcher provides a comprehensive overview of the neuroscience, psychology, and economics of choice behavior, which will help readers from many disciplines to grasp the rich interconnections between these fields and see how their data and theory can interact to produce new insights, constraints, and questions. The book is divided into four main sections that address key barriers to interdisciplinary cohesion. The first section defines the central philosophical issues that neuroeconomics must engage. The theory of knowledge already tells us much about how different disciplines interact, and in this section, Glimcher reviews those constraints and lays a philosophical foundation for future neuroeconomic discourse. This section concludes with both a defense of neoclassical economics and a spirited attack on Milton Friedman's insistence that economics must not be constrained by the study of mechanism. Glimcher argues instead for the development of "hard-economic theories", which postulate that choosers behave the way they do because of the underlying representations that occur in their brains. The second section describes what is known about the primate choice mechanism-the physical structures in our brains that actively select among the options available to the chooser. By reviewing and integrating economic theory of choice, neurobiological studies of the frontal and parietal cortices, and psychological models of selection, Glimcher creates an interdisciplinary structure for understanding how we choose. This interdisciplinary synthesis leads to several novel insights into the causes of human irrational behavior and recasts many of these so-called irrationalities as neurobiological optimizations in the face of physical constraints. The third section describes the neural circuits for valuation-the physical mechanisms by which we learn, store, and represent the values of the many options from which we choose. In this section, Glimcher combines studies from computer science and neuroscience with representational frameworks from economics to provide novel assessments of both the strengths and weaknesses of modern economic theory. The section ends with a discussion of behavioral neuroeconomics and the ultimate limits of the neoclassical economic program. The book concludes with a description of a new model for human choice behavior that harvests constraints from each of neuroeconomics' parent disciplines and encapsulates the key insights from current research, as well as a review of the major accomplishments and opportunities that await the new field of neuroeconomics.
Major New York Times bestseller
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012
Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year
One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011
2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
Kahneman's work with Amos Tversky is the subject of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR

"My new favorite book of all time." --Bill Gates

If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.

With intellectual depth and literary flair, Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.
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