How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

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By Steven Pinker

"Presented with impressive lucidity, cogency and panache...Powerful and gripping...To have learn [the e-book] is to have consulted a primary draft of the structural plan of the human psyche...a glittering travel de force" - "Spectator". "Why do thoughts fade? Why can we lose our tempers? Why do fools fall in love? Pinker's goal during this erudite account is to discover the character and historical past of the human mind...He explores computations and evolutions, after which considers how the brain we could us "see, imagine, think, have interaction, and pursue better callings like artwork, faith and philosophy" - "Sunday Times".

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Why do we have our wrinkled, asymmetrical ears? Because they filter sound waves coming from different directions in different ways. The nuances of the sound shadow tell the brain whether the source of the sound is above or below, in front of or behind us. The strategy of reverseengineering the body has continued in the last half of this century as we have explored the nanotechnology of the cell and of the molecules of life. The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded, and scanned.

To relieve tension. Why do people overestimate their chance of surviving an illness? Because it helps them to operate effectively in life. These musings strike us as glib and lame, but it is not because they 38 HOW THE MIND WORKS dare to seek an evolutionary explanation of how some part of the mind works. It is because they botch the job. First, many of them never bother to establish the facts. Has anyone ever documented that women like to ask for directions? Would a woman in a foraging society not have come to harm when she approached a stranger?

Is the hand an organ? the finger? ) These are all pedantic questions of terminology, and anatomists and physiologists have not wasted their time on them. What is clear is that the body is not made of Spam but has a heterogeneous structure of many specialized parts. All this is likely to be true of the mind. Whether or not we establish exact boundaries for the components of the mind, it is clear that it is not made of mental Spam but has a heterogeneous structure of many specialized parts. O u r physical organs owe their complex design to the information in the human genome, and so, I believe, do our mental organs.

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