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

2.4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 6 Apr 2017

Anurag Anand

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'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:

(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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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781846145575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145575
  • ASIN: 1846145570
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,76,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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2 customer reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars

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3 August 2017
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
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22 February 2019
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews
C.C. Ryan
5.0 out of 5 starsLoved it, but will be careful about my reasons
29 April 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
58 people found this helpful.
Andrew M.
3.0 out of 5 starsAn important book, but a tough read
22 May 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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94 people found this helpful.
Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsDon't miss this one
27 April 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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20 people found this helpful.
Diego Espinosa
5.0 out of 5 starsAn important book. Debunks behavioral economics.
25 June 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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19 people found this helpful.