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Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  14,071 Ratings  ·  467 Reviews
Dr Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insights into the brains of humans & beasts, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
Paperback, 271 pages
Published December 12th 1986 by Ballantine Books (first published 1977)
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Rodrigo Franco Definitely, I just read it this year and it has aged very well. Some of the speculations on computer science and artificial intelligence still apply…moreDefinitely, I just read it this year and it has aged very well. Some of the speculations on computer science and artificial intelligence still apply nowadays. I don't know much about the brain but I think it gives you a general perspective of what is it and how it has evolved during time. I recommend it.(less)

Community Reviews

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Huda Yahya
واحدٌ من أمتع ما قرأت على الإطلاق
يكاد يضاهي كتاب الكون في جماله وتفرده

الطريقة التي قدم بها سيجن معلوماته لازلت قادرة على إدهاشي
فالعلم عنده ليس مجرد مصطلحات جامدة ولا سطور محشوة بالمعلومات الجديدة

كارل سيجن يملك دهشة الأطفال
وهو قادر على انتزاع تلك الشهقات الطفلية منك مع كل كتاب جديد

فلا شيء في الكون لا يثير عجبه وانذهاله
ولا أية خفقة تسري فيه لا يعتبرها معجزة متجددة

أمتع ما جاء في الكتاب بالنسبة لي وقتها كان تعرفي على التقويم الكوني لأول مرة

كما تمتعت للغاية بما كتب عن الغرض التطور للنوم والأحلام
Ahmad  Ebaid
"كتنانين عدن"
"إننا نتهم الأرواح الشريرة بأنها السبب في الصرع ؛ لأننا لا نفهم له سبباً آخر, ولو أننا اتهمنا الأرواح الشريرة بكل مرض لا نعرف له سبباً لامتلأ الكون بهذه الأرواح" أبوقراط

في عام 1975, قام المؤلف "كارل ساجان" بتقديم أول محاضرة لذكرى "جايكوب برونسكي" في "الفلسفات الطبيعية" في جامعة تورونتو
والكتاب الذي بين أيدينا توسيع لتلك المحاضرة

والمؤلف ليس لديه خبرة كبيرة في تشريح المخ
لديه فقط خبرة في البيولوجيا.

فلقد قام بتلخيص ما قرأه عن الموضوع لمشاركته معنا في هذا الكتاب المبسط

بدأ الفصل الأول
Arun Divakar
Sep 01, 2014 Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The most hauting question that this book poses is this :

Chimpanzees can abstract. Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions.Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?

For a species that has proclaimed itself to be the rulers of Earth, this is not a very difficult question to answer for us. It is a single word : suppression. We humans never much liked competition from other creatures and history tells us that this was how we overc
Stacey Mulvey
Aug 22, 2007 Stacey Mulvey rated it it was amazing
I'd read this book a few years ago, and loved it. It's a great introduction to brain anatomy, consciousness/subconsciousness, and evolution. An "easy" read, if any book that deals with these types of topics can be considered as such. Sagan is good at presenting complex material in an interesting and palatable way. It made me want to start paying more attention to my dreams. (He also relates one of his personal experiences of smoking marijuana, and his theories of the effects it might have on the ...more
Nov 13, 2009 Ashley rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful things I've ever read came from this book:

"If the human brain had only one synapse-- corresponding to a monumental stupidity-- we would be capable of only two mental states. If we had two synapses, then 2^2 = 4 states; three synapses, then 2^3 = 8 states, and, in general, for N synapses, 2^N states. But the human brain is characterized by some 10^13 synapses. Thus the number of different states of a human brain is 2 raised to this power-- i.e., multiplied by itself ten
Jul 19, 2011 Ash rated it it was amazing
"Chimpanzees can abstract. Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions.
Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?"

"Humans have systematically exterminated those other primates who displayed signs of intelligence."

Carl Sagan is the best science teacher one can ever get. Even though I am not a biology major, I was able to enjoy this book. A great book where he talks about EVERYTHING that you ever wanted to know about your brain. Proba
Jan 13, 2010 Traveller rated it really liked it
Interesting read, as long as one takes into account that it's quite old and outdated by now, so it's not exactly cutting edge. (I read it pretty long ago myself).

Still, Sagan has a such a pleasant, conversational style, that even reading it for the speculations alone, makes reading the book a not unpleasant way of whiling away your time.

I like the angles he chooses to speculate from, especially the bits about instinct and how myths most probably formed in the human collective subconscious.
Oct 29, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Interesting questions on the origin and development of human intelligence. Still worth a read despite lots of progress since he wrote this. Gives a good description of left/right brain competencies. Has piqued my interest in evolutionary development. The guy was taken from us too early but sure made a name for himself in what time he had.
Mar 16, 2007 Wilson rated it liked it
This was an interesting book to read after all of the recent research and groundbreaking discoveries of the human brain. Clearly, Sagan smokes weed. However, there are times when he must be coming off his high that his insights are both subtle and poignant. Oxymoronic, to be sure, but so was most of Sagan's keen skepticism amidst his psuedoscientific platitudes.

I use big words.

That being said, some of the best parts of this book are the drawings related to studies conducted on patients with a s
Erik Graff
Sep 21, 2010 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sagan fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
Carl Sagan, like Stephen Jay Gould, is one of those scientists gifted as a teacher to non-specialists. This book is about intelligence, a topic both men dealt with, Gould most notably in his Mismeasure of Man. Sagan, however, deals with all intelligence, ending his book with a discussion of nonhuman intelligences, most particularly certain Cetaceans and primates. Noting that chimpanzees and gorillas appear to be intellectually comparable to human five-year-olds, he ends with a plea to extend som ...more
لو غاوى كتب الأرصفه و الأعلى مبيعا هيعجبك ككتاب خفيف و ممتع و اسلوبه شيق لكن لو بتقرأه من أجل الماده العلميه هتلاقيه سطحى و غير دقيق و يستند لأطروحات و استنتاجات نظرية لم يدعمها العلم بصوره قاطعه و لا حتى بصورة شبه مؤكدة.

العنوان خادع شويتين و لو انه متوقع ان كتاب بالحجم الصغير ده صعب يناقش قضية بالخطورة دى لكنه مسلى و تقدر تعتبره مقدمة فى فهم المخ البشرى و تطوره لدى الانسان.
Aug 11, 2007 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is curious about themselves and the world
I feel strongly that this book should be included in mythology courses because better than any textbook I've ever encountered it addresses the connections that exist between mythology and science. Not to say that mythology is scientific, but rather the ways of viewing the world, both contemporary and historical, that human beings seem to return to again and again often are the way they are for very sound biological reasons.
Nov 10, 2011 Marijan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knjiga je jednostavno nevjerojatna. uz minimalno, ali stvarno minimalno poznavanje anatomije i fiziologije mozga-na razini osnovnoškolske biologije- čitatelj može pratiti razvoj građe i funkcije ljudskog mozga, uz savršeno smisleno i logično objašnjenje naših strahova, ponašanja, snova, uspjeha i neuspjeha. preporučeno svima.
Mukesh Kumar
Nov 16, 2012 Mukesh Kumar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. Science lovers.
Shelves: favourites
Pure bliss. In the inimitable manner of Carl Sagan, engrossing, enlightening and amusing in equal measure.
Dec 21, 2016 M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bugün öğlen saatlerinde büyük bir heyecanla elime aldığım kitabı an itibariyle üzülerek bitirmiş bulunuyorum. Cosmos kitabıyla tanıştığım Sagan'ın biraz daha farklı konulara değindiği bu kitabını da Cosmos ile aynı keyif ve heyecanla okudum.
Sagan'ın ne kadar büyük bir deha olduğunu bir defa daha gördüm. Zira, alanı dışında bir konuda yazıyor ve bunda da son derece başarılı olduğunu düşünüyorum. Her ne kadar, bilimin doğal akışı gereği kitaptaki bazı bölümlerde sonradan yeni kanıtlar, gelişmeler
Noha soliman
May 06, 2014 Noha soliman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
استمتعت كعادتى مع كتب الرائع الجميل كارل ساجان
خاصة فى الفصل الذى ناقش به تعلم الشمبانزى للغة الاشارة
واطلقت العنان لخيالى لو ان كل الشمبانزى والقردة تعلم لغة الاشارة
واصبح بيننا وبينهم نوع من التواصل كيف سيكون شكل الحياة الاجتماعية بل الحياة ع الكوكب بعدما يصبح الشمبانزى كبشر ولكن فاقدى القدرة ع الكلام والنطق يمكنهم التعبير بالاشاره

كذلك الفصل الذى يتكلم عن المخ والشق الايمن والشق الأيسر للمخ وتأثيرهما ع سلوك الانسان وطرق تفكيره كان ممتع

انما المترجم اهدر كثير من متعتى بل ومن استفادتى بالكتاب وك
Nandakishore Varma
I read this one quite long back... and really loved it at that time. I only remember two things from the book, however.

The first one is where Sagan speculates that God's curse on Eve, "you shall bring forth your children in pain", refers to the increased cranial size of intelligent homo sapiens. It is common knowledge that childbirth in humans is much more painful than in animals because of the larger size of the head due to an enlarged brain: thus, could the story of Eden contain a veiled refer
Христо Блажев
Да яздиш дракони в Райската градина:

След мечтата за Вселената, събрана в “Бледа синя точица”, дочакахме със скромните четирийсетина години закъснение и още една от книгите на великия Карл Сейгън – “Дракони в Райската градина”. От погледа към Космоса той ни насочва към поглед навътре – към нас, към мозъците ни, към еволюирането ни като вид, който осъзнава себе си и може да променя света, както и да търси разум не само в другите видове, живеещи с нас на пла
David Kaczynski
Jan 30, 2008 David Kaczynski rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young philosophers, college students, anyone who is considering science in their career goal
Recommended to David by: Dan Loss
This is simply the best book I was lucky enough to receive as a gift. Written thirty years ago, Sagan's principles in science, philosophy, and humanity seem to grow more valid as the years go on. I used to be an existentialist nutcase in high school, but this book straightened me right out. I can't wait to re-read this beauty
Jul 06, 2014 Vishal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Carl Sagan was a planetary scientist with primary interest in exobiology and extraterrestrial intelligence. He was perfectly aware that speculation, study and understanding of extra-terrestrial intelligence would require a thoroughly comprehensible understanding of terrestrial human and non-human intelligence such as primates and aquatic mammals. If emergence of intelligence is convergent end point of many different evolutionary histories, as evident in our expectations of intelligent aliens, th ...more
"To write a book in a subject so far from one's primary training is at best incautious. But...the temptation was irresistible."

That quote, found in the acknowledgements, sums up both the problems with this work, and also it's ironic charm. You must read this early work of Sagan not as definitive science, but as a prime example of his inimitable ability to connect science to other intellectual concerns such as myth, religion and history, thus stimulating thought in the process.

At least Sagan is
Mohamedridha Alaskari محمد رضا العسكري
كتاب علمي رائع وممتع ومسل بكل صفحة من صفحاته.. معلومات قيمة عن الإنسان وعن العقل البشري، ادهشني الكاتب بهذا الكم الهائل من المعلومات من جهة وجهة اخرى بسلاسة طرح هذه المعلومات!
ياله من عالم رائع
Sep 13, 2007 Ethan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humans
"There is a popular game, sometimes called Pong, which simulates on a television screen a perfectly elastic ball bouncing between two surfaces. Each player is given a dial that permits him to intercept the ball with a movable "racket". Points are scored if the motion of the ball is not intercepted by the racket. The game is very interesting. There is a clear learning experience involved which depends exclusively on Newton's second law for linear motion. As a result of Pong, the player can gain a ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Naazish rated it really liked it
Carl takes you on a journey from the mountains to the oceans, from dinosaurs to extra terrestrial beings to explain evolutionary changes and the workings of our mind. While explaining these concepts in a simple, easily understandable language, he lays out the arguments and lets you figure out for yourself intriguing ideas such as how much sleep is enough; why some people can do with less sleep?; why we think the way we do; why do we have our appendages evolved in the way they are; are we continu ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Any book on the brain written in the 70s is going to be outdated. For example, Sagan wasn't sure if different parts of the brain affected different things. But an enjoyable read.

He does make one important point clear early on: the "mind" is just a function of the brain. Dualists who think they are two different things are flat out wrong. I have had people look me straight in the eye without even blinking and say that if a person's brain were destroyed, their mind would still function normally.
Dec 07, 2007 Fred rated it it was amazing
A look into the evolution of the human mind. Sagan closes the first chapter giving the reader a perspective on their position in history: If the history of the universe was represented by our 12-month year, the history of mankind would exist in the last second of the last minute of December 31. Exploring the pains of childbirth, warring subhuman species, and simplified understandings of how the human brain works, "The Dragons of Eden" is written in a way that anyone can enjoy (it was a NY Times ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Dragons of Eden: speculations on the evolution of human intelligence.
عنوان: اژدهایان عدن: تاملی در تکامل هوش انسان؛ نوشته: کارل ساگان؛ ترجمه: جبیب الله تیموری؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، پاپیروس، 1368 در 243 ص مصور، جدول، نمودار، دارلی کتابنامه از ص 235 تا 243؛ موضوع: هوش، مغز، روانشناسی ژنتیک
May 29, 2013 Juan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Juan by: Adosinda
Un ensayo muy interesante sobre la evolución fisiológica del cerebro desde sus primeros desarrollos hasta el Homo Sapiens, con el que he aprendido cosas que seguramente ya sabía pero que quedaron enterradas en un absurdo marasmo de educación multidisciplinar que me ha llevado a saber de todo y nada a la vez, lo que me hace una persona muy interesante a la hora de conversar (siempre que te guste mucho la forma y poco el fondo). Lo más interesante me ha parecido la existencia del Complejo R, la cu ...more
Sep 16, 2007 James rated it did not like it
The copy of the book I got was published in 1977 and what isn't out of date is wrong. The subtitle is "Speculations on the evolution of human intelligence",
but little in the book is about that topic.

The book rambles from from one subject to another,
from cute drawings by everyone's favorite: M.C. Escher,
to the chemical composition of distant stars.

Perhaps the most interesting part is the chart that shows
Brain mass vs. Body weight.
On that chart moles rate quite highly.
Probably not the point
Parth Agrawal
Mar 21, 2017 Parth Agrawal rated it really liked it
"Science is only a Latin word for Knowledge and Knowledge is our destiny"- Carl Sagan

I'll be honest, initial 50 pages of the book gave me all the reasons to give up this and start anew. The credit goes to the biological backdrop of the book but with time, I realized that my age old belief of biology, being an enigma and a damp squib, was based on all wrong perceptions.

As the name suggests, the speculation on human intelligence by the author largely consists of the evolution of mankind from Homo
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Armenian readers ...: Գիտահանրամատչելի ձմեռ-գարուն 53 25 Apr 02, 2014 04:02AM  
Further reading on chimpanzee signing? 11 26 Feb 02, 2013 09:10AM  
  • River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • The Mismeasure of Man
  • The Ascent of Man
  • On Human Nature
  • So Human an Animal: How We are Shaped by Surroundings and Events
  • The Human Zoo: A Zoologist's Study of the Urban Animal
  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind
  • Wandering Through Winter: A Naturalist's Record of a 20,000-Mile Journey Through the North American Winter
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
in 1934, scientist Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After earning bachelor and master's degrees at Cornell, Sagan earned a double doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1960. He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. A great popularizer of science, Sagan produced th ...more
More about Carl Sagan...

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“Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective.” 31 likes
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