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Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking


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About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and the author of numerous books including Breaking the Spell, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and Consciousness Explained.


"Our best current philosopher. He is the next Bertrand Russell. Unlike traditional philosophers, Dan is a student of neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science, and psychology. He's redefining and reforming the role of the philosopher." -- Marvin Minsky
"One of the most original thinkers of our time." -- Michael Shermer - Science
"The sharpest, cleverest, most stylish prober of how issues of human consciousness interconnect today with evolutionary theory." -- Carlin Romano - Philadelphia Inquirer
"Once in a blue moon an analytic philosopher comes along who redeems his subdiscipline by combining professional persnicketiness with a romantic spirit, a vivid imagination, and a sense of humor...One of our most original and most readable philosophers." -- Richard Rorty
"Cloaked in the breezy, familiar trappings of a self-help book, Intuition Pumps is in actuality a dark mirror of that genre-a field of rabbit holes designed to leave the reader with more questions than answers, and wiser for the long and indirect journey." -- Jason Gots, author of BigThink

Dennett (philosophy, Tufts Univ.; Consciousness Explained) thinks of intuition as ideas that have a central place around which other ideas hang. His phrase, "intuition pumps," refers to the philosopher's tools used to push such ideas to their limits. He argues that intuitions are either pushed aside and replaced with new ones, or they survive and become even more firmly rooted. According to Dennett, some of these tools are formal (the reductio ad absurdum), others are informal (various rhetorical fallacies), and still others resemble thought experiments. He introduces these general philosophical tools and then moves to a discussion of topics in which he is well known, such as evolution, consciousness, free will, etc. The author's weakness is lack of analysis; however, the concept of intuition pumps is in general provocative and makes for an entertaining intellectual appetizer. VERDICT Dennett shows himself again to be both avuncular to the curious and confrontational with opposing scholars. General readers and professionals should find him most engaging.-James -Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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