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Strange Tools
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About the Author

Alva Noe is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. A graduate of Columbia College, he holds a BPhil from the University of Oxford and a PhD from Harvard University. The focus of his work in recent years has been on the nature of mind and human experience, with particular emphasis on perception and consciousness. In addition, he is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.

Reviews

Praise for Alva Noe Praise for Alva Noe" Noe offers a unique analysis on the role of art, and also philosophy, in our lives. Readers with an interest in philosophy, aesthetics, or art will find this an accessible and engaging read.--Scott Duimstra "Library Journal "" Alva Noe's "Strange Tools "challenges some of our preconceptions not only about art and human nature, but also about philosophy and science. The book shows how bad ideas about each of these subjects support bad ideas about the others. It is passionately argued, and readers will want to argue back at various points; that is true too of the best philosophy and the best writing about art.--Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Harvard University" As Alva Noe gracefully dispatches one reductionist account after another (the neurological, the sociobiological, the evolutionary, and so forth), his subject-the very nature and provenance of art-just keeps expanding outward. And every page seems to open onto fresh vantages, crisp apercus evocative of how art endlessly affords us all new ways not just of seeing, but of being--Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees" In his new book, Alva Noe spiritedly suggests that, at their best, art and philosophy are practices of inquiry into the human condition. He defends, convincingly, the idea that the value of those practices derives from the questions they pose and the pleasure we experience when we glean a workable, reorganizing answer. Along the way he argues, advisedly, against reductive accounts of aesthetics. A stimulating read.--Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and director of the USC College Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California" The projects of philosophy and of art-making cross over in this remarkable book. Read it, and whatever you thought about both will be radically challenged.--Alexander Nagel, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and thus are characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's "Art as Experience," and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own.--Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University" Inspiring as well as useful.--Deborah Hay, director of the Deborah Hay Dance Company Many have told us, passionately, that art shapes human nature in ways science alone cannot explain, but Noe doesn't just "tell"; he "shows "how many insights flow from an open-minded understanding of both art and science combined. He walks the tightrope between reductionism and mysterianism with panache, and part of the fun of reading this book is watching him recover from his narrow escapes, "almost "abandoning naturalism in favor of a romanticized vision of science as poetry, and "almost "giving some ideologues more respect than they deserve.--Daniel Dennett, author of Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking" With incisive arguments and in crisp and engaging prose, "Strange Tools" brings the discourse on the function of art and beauty to a different level.--Giovanni Frazzetto "Science " "With incisive arguments and in crisp and engaging prose, Strange Tools brings the discourse on the function of art and beauty to a different level." --Giovanni Frazzetto, Science "A stimulating and wide-ranging investigation of the meaning of art . . . A searching and learned response to vexing, long-debated questions." --Kirkus Reviews "Noe offers a unique analysis on the role of art, and also philosophy, in our lives. Readers with an interest in philosophy, aesthetics, or art will find this an accessible and engaging read." --Scott Duimstra, Library Journal "As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noe's concepts both astounding and convincing." --Oliver Sacks "Alva Noe's Strange Tools challenges some of our preconceptions not only about art and human nature, but also about philosophy and science. The book shows how bad ideas about each of these subjects support bad ideas about the others. It is passionately argued, and readers will want to argue back at various points; that is true too of the best philosophy and the best writing about art." --Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Harvard University "As Alva Noe gracefully dispatches one reductionist account after another (the neurological, the sociobiological, the evolutionary, and so forth), his subject-the very nature and provenance of art-just keeps expanding outward. And every page seems to open onto fresh vantages, crisp apercus evocative of how art endlessly affords us all new ways not just of seeing, but of being" --Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees "In his new book, Alva Noe spiritedly suggests that, at their best, art and philosophy are practices of inquiry into the human condition. He defends, convincingly, the idea that the value of those practices derives from the questions they pose and the pleasure we experience when we glean a workable, reorganizing answer. Along the way he argues, advisedly, against reductive accounts of aesthetics. A stimulating read." --Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and director of the USC College Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California "The projects of philosophy and of art-making cross over in this remarkable book. Read it, and whatever you thought about both will be radically challenged." --Alexander Nagel, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University "Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and thus are characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's Art as Experience, and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own." --Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University "Inspiring as well as useful." --Deborah Hay, director of the Deborah Hay Dance Company "Many have told us, passionately, that art shapes human nature in ways science alone cannot explain, but Noe doesn't just tell; he shows how many insights flow from an open-minded understanding of both art and science combined. He walks the tightrope between reductionism and mysterianism with panache, and part of the fun of reading this book is watching him recover from his narrow escapes, almost abandoning naturalism in favor of a romanticized vision of science as poetry, and almost giving some ideologues more respect than they deserve." --Daniel Dennett, author of Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking With incisive arguments and in crisp and engaging prose, Strange Tools brings the discourse on the function of art and beauty to a different level. Giovanni Frazzetto, Science A stimulating and wide-ranging investigation of the meaning of art . . . A searching and learned response to vexing, long-debated questions. Kirkus Reviews Noe offers a unique analysis on the role of art, and also philosophy, in our lives. Readers with an interest in philosophy, aesthetics, or art will find this an accessible and engaging read. Scott Duimstra, Library Journal As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noe's concepts both astounding and convincing. Oliver Sacks Alva Noe's Strange Tools challenges some of our preconceptions not only about art and human nature, but also about philosophy and science. The book shows how bad ideas about each of these subjects support bad ideas about the others. It is passionately argued, and readers will want to argue back at various points; that is true too of the best philosophy and the best writing about art. Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Harvard University As Alva Noe gracefully dispatches one reductionist account after another (the neurological, the sociobiological, the evolutionary, and so forth), his subject-the very nature and provenance of art-just keeps expanding outward. And every page seems to open onto fresh vantages, crisp apercus evocative of how art endlessly affords us all new ways not just of seeing, but of being Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees In his new book, Alva Noe spiritedly suggests that, at their best, art and philosophy are practices of inquiry into the human condition. He defends, convincingly, the idea that the value of those practices derives from the questions they pose and the pleasure we experience when we glean a workable, reorganizing answer. Along the way he argues, advisedly, against reductive accounts of aesthetics. A stimulating read. Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and director of the USC College Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California The projects of philosophy and of art-making cross over in this remarkable book. Read it, and whatever you thought about both will be radically challenged. Alexander Nagel, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and thus are characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's Art as Experience, and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own. Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University Inspiring as well as useful. Deborah Hay, director of the Deborah Hay Dance Company Many have told us, passionately, that art shapes human nature in ways science alone cannot explain, but Noe doesn t just tell; he shows how many insights flow from an open-minded understanding of both art and science combined. He walks the tightrope between reductionism and mysterianism with panache, and part of the fun of reading this book is watching him recover from his narrow escapes, almost abandoning naturalism in favor of a romanticized vision of science as poetry, and almost giving some ideologues more respect than they deserve. Daniel Dennett, author of Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking " With incisive arguments and in crisp and engaging prose, "Strange Tools" brings the discourse on the function of art and beauty to a different level. Giovanni Frazzetto, "Science" A stimulating and wide-ranging investigation of the meaning of art . . . A searching and learned response to vexing, long-debated questions. "Kirkus Reviews" Noe offers a unique analysis on the role of art, and also philosophy, in our lives. Readers with an interest in philosophy, aesthetics, or art will find this an accessible and engaging read. Scott Duimstra, "Library Journal" As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noe's concepts both astounding and convincing. "Oliver Sacks" Alva Noe's "Strange Tools "challenges some of our preconceptions not only about art and human nature, but also about philosophy and science. The book shows how bad ideas about each of these subjects support bad ideas about the others. It is passionately argued, and readers will want to argue back at various points; that is true too of the best philosophy and the best writing about art. Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Harvard University As Alva Noe gracefully dispatches one reductionist account after another (the neurological, the sociobiological, the evolutionary, and so forth), his subject-the very nature and provenance of art-just keeps expanding outward. And every page seems to open onto fresh vantages, crisp apercus evocative of how art endlessly affords us all new ways not just of seeing, but of being Lawrence Weschler, author of Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees In his new book, Alva Noe spiritedly suggests that, at their best, art and philosophy are practices of inquiry into the human condition. He defends, convincingly, the idea that the value of those practices derives from the questions they pose and the pleasure we experience when we glean a workable, reorganizing answer. Along the way he argues, advisedly, against reductive accounts of aesthetics. A stimulating read. Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and director of the USC College Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California The projects of philosophy and of art-making cross over in this remarkable book. Read it, and whatever you thought about both will be radically challenged. Alexander Nagel, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and thus are characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's "Art as Experience," and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own. Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University Inspiring as well as useful. Deborah Hay, director of the Deborah Hay Dance Company Many have told us, passionately, that art shapes human nature in ways science alone cannot explain, but Noe doesn t just "tell"; he "shows "how many insights flow from an open-minded understanding of both art and science combined. He walks the tightrope between reductionism and mysterianism with panache, and part of the fun of reading this book is watching him recover from his narrow escapes, "almost "abandoning naturalism in favor of a romanticized vision of science as poetry, and "almost "giving some ideologues more respect than they deserve. Daniel Dennett, author of Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking" Praise for Alva Noe "As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noe's concepts both astounding and convincing." --Oliver Sacks, Columbia University Medical Center

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