The Enigma of Reason

The Enigma of Reason Author Hugo Mercier
ISBN-10 0674368304
ISBN-13 9780674368309
Year 2017-04-17
Pages 408
Language English
Publisher Harvard University Press
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Reason we are told is what makes us human the source of our knowledge and wisdom If reason is so useful why didnt it also evolve in other animals If reason is that reliable why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense In their groundbreaking account of the evolution and workings of reason Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma 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 others address to us In other words reason helps humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment This interactionist interpretation explains why reason may have evolved and how it fits with other cognitive mechanisms It makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologistswhy reason is biased in favor 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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