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Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,176 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Over a storied career, Daniel C. Dennett has engaged questions about science and the workings of the mind. His answers have combined rigorous argument with strong empirical grounding. And a lot of fun.
Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking offers seventy-seven of Dennett’s most successful "imagination-extenders and focus-holders" meant to guide you through some of li
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 6th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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Jul 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: neverfinished
I had to quit after 68 pages. Dennett apparently had a class of freshmen review this book - I wish he would have had a couple actual philosophers review it as well. If you have an understanding of philosophy and basic thinking tools, this book is not for you. If you already are an independent thinker, this book is not for you. If you are easily impressed by name-dropping and misleading examples, this book is for you.

The book starts out poorly with way too much name-dropping and Dennett admitting
Mirek Kukla
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
"Intuition pumps and other tools for thinking" is a mixed bag of goods. Don’t let the title fool you: this books is less about "thinking tools" than it is about Daniel Dennet's favorite philosophical thought experiments. Dennet devotes a short and wanting section to general 'thinking tools' (think Okham’s razor), but otherwise spends the majority of your time laying out his personal ideas concerning evolution, meaning, mind, and free will.

First, the pros: the subject matter is fascinating, and D
Eric Wurm
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
If you've read other Dennett masterpieces, you come away thinking both that the man is a genius and that he's a genius that tends to ramble on. That is not the case in his latest work. He combines many of his previous ideas and some new thoughts into this volume of brief insightful chapters.

Dennett covers a wide range of philosophy favorites including consciousness, free will, determinism, artificial life, evolution, and meaning. He gives the reader tools to use when thinking about complex prob
Heydar Rashed
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
هذا الكتاب يستخلص ببراعة العشرات من أدوات التفكير ومعدات الاستدلال التي تتعلق بالأسئلة الكبرى في الفلسفة: المعنى، الفكر، التطور، الإرادة الحرة، معنى الوعي، وما شاكل.

لا زلت معجبا بمدى براعة المؤلف، وهو الفيلسوف التحليلي القدير، في النفاذ لصلب الموضوع دون التعكّز على مصطلحات نادرة أو تعابير مستغلقة. وأنصح المهتمين بقراءته على مهل، لأن مادته ليست سريعة الهضم.
Alex Borghgraef
Oct 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: a002
It's ironic that Dennett concludes his book with a chapter on why philosophy is still valuable, because halfway through it I was starting to toy with the idea that the world would be better off if philosophy departments all over it were shut down and its inhabitants told to find a real job :-) But first, a disclaimer: I am firmly in the positivist camp, Dan is basically preaching to the choir here. Only he's doing it badly.
But wait! What's this about preaching? Isn't this book about thinking t
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
Reading this book is basically like reading Daniel Dennett in blog format.

I read a lot of Dennett's work as an undergraduate and it had a fairly profound impact on me -- I think the collection "The Mind's I" that he edited with Douglas Hofstadter is essentially my atheist bible. I hadn't realized just how much of his work I had read -- almost nothing in this recent collection was new to me. I guess I hadn't realized (or had forgotten) that Dennett is a big fan of Sturgeon's Law (90% of everythin
Morgan Blackledge
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
An intuition pump is a thought experiment or similar cognitive "device" designed to elicit answers to difficult philosophical problems. In --Intuition Pumps And Other Tools For Thinking-- Dennett uses his favorite intuition pumps to (sort of) dismantle difficult philosophical questions such as: evolution, meaning, mind, and free will.

I avoided Dennett for a long time because he comes off as such a grumpy old dick in his lectures and Ted talks. I am pleasantly surprised to find that his writing i
May 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked this well enough. Dennett can write clearly and engagingly. But I never got over the nasty taste in my mouth induced by some really mean-spirited drive-by ad hominem assassination of someone I guess Dennett still holds a shiv for -- Stephen Jay Gould. The odd thing is that, on the issues in question, intellectually I would side with Dennett rather than Gould. But continuing to attack an opponent after the person in question is dead and in no position to mount a defence strikes me as bein ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
As clearly advertised on the front cover, this is a book about "tools for thinking"—and, yes, the first 12 chapters, out of 77, are devoted precisely to that.

In contrast, the remaining 65 chapters are summaries, in easy to consume bites, of most of the other books that Dennett has published during the last 20 or 30 years, on the topics of meaning and content, evolution, consciousness, and free will—each updated with relevant new results and references. As such, he presents, and effectively argu
Peter Mcloughlin
I have enjoyed reading Dennett long before he became one of the four horsemen. I discovered him in the nineties and enjoyed his take on evolution and the mind body problem as well as the problem of consciousness. He is a good writer and clear. He is also probably the least abrasive of the new atheists. He writes in an enjoyable way about deep topics in the philosophy of mind, evolution and religion. I don't agree with him on consciousness. I think the hard problem can't be dissolved away as Denn ...more
Lucas Wiman
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book, though Dennett could certainly have stood to tighten up the prose and organize it better. I think the title also doesn't reflect the contents of the book very well. The book describes Dennett's theories of the philosophy of mind, using what he calls "intuition pumps". An intuition pump is basically a thought experiment, designed to poke/pump your intuitions about a topic, like Einstein's clock thought experiments or Searle's Chinese Room argument. I sort of dislike the t ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great primer to philosophy to the novice. Dennett uses some clever thinking tools to cut to the heart of some classic problems in philosophy. I especially liked his take-down of the idea that free will depends on non-determinism.
Paul Gibson
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting and clever book. Critics will complain the author has an agenda. Others will recognize this agenda as narrative. The author does an excellent job choosing intuition pumps to make his point while providing a narrative to tie it all altogether in a readable package. You don't have to believe it, you can simply regard it as information. But you could also re-frame your current beliefs by devaluing their truth while regarding them simply as information too. Throughout this ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-read
Daniel C. Dennett cites himself a lot. Just sayin'.

Right, so his thing is that free will and determinism are not incompatible. He's really big into non-incompatibles. the idea that you can predict the choice someone will make does not effect his ability to make that choice. So, its predictable that i would write this... but i still also made a choice to write it. i really hope he explains how this is so because i still don't get it.

I had no idea this book would be so much about rhetoric, linqui
Alfingen Dodür
Didn't finish bc tons of unnecessary acerbic ad hominem attacks on Gould started to get very annoying. Superficial otherwise too.
Spencer Fancutt
Jul 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I stayed with it until Consciousness, where I lost mine several times before limping to the end. The title is a misnomer; it is not a handy guide to navigating your decisions in life, etc, or even a practical 80 steps to improving your mind. It is a series of short chapters of philosophical tidbits designed to introduce as much of Dennett's own nomenclature as possible to see what sticks (immortality!), and in the meantime showing how terribly misguided his fellow philosophers are, supported by ...more
Alex Shenton
Summary: There's a lot of interesting stuff here if you can struggle through it and are prepared to put in some hard thinking time over it (which you should be, if you're reading a book on philosophy). It's like taking a journey which you have heard is arduous but rewarding. However in this case the journey is also uneven and sometimes tedious, and your companion won't stop playing a Spice Girls medley on the kazoo.

In a bit more detail:

First off, this is a hard book. It wants you to think and it
Date first finished: 21 September 2013
Date second finished: 19 January 2014

This is an excellent book that gives a good introduction to some of the ways of doing philosophy. The first section has perhaps some of the most valuable advice for engaging with ideas and their proponents, and is something I will probably return to again and again to sharpen my tools for evaluating claims. The very first thing that Dennett encourages is for thinkers to make mistakes. It is important not to be afraid of m
J Puntillo
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I won't plagiarize another reviewer by pointing any prospective reader of Dennett's book to Sturgeon's Law, but for those listening: consult Sturgeon's Law.

10% of this book is extremely interesting - which for a 500 page book can seem reasonable and tiring on the same plane. Cf. every book Dennett has ever written on consciousness if you want to avoid the hassle (it's the topic he has theorized on tenaciously during his 30-year career as a mainstream philosopher). You'll notice he conveniently
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This introduces itself as a collection of tricks and tips for philosophical reasoning. What is an essay papering over a gap? What makes a good thought experiment? When faced with one of the classic philosopher's parables (the Chinese Room, the Duplicating Teleporter) how do you figure out whether it's leading your intuition in a useful direction or only distracting you from the point?

(Some of these tips are nifty examples of "turning the knobs" on thought experiments, creating variants with diff
Somehow I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as I was expecting to. What was I expecting? I dunno... a textbook on critical thinking written from the perspective of a philosopher? A list of important human mental techniques that an ideal AI should contain?

Something was just too folksy-abstract for me to really get into it.

I liked Dennett's books Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness and Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind much better.

But on my library's
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a mind... Dennett is that rarest of beings: a philosopher who presents his ideas undumbed down, and with crystal clarity, for a lay readership. Not only does he respect his untrained readers, he genuinely strives to educate them and to spur their own deeper learning and inquiry. The long and the short is this: every time I finish one of his books, I am (I think) smarter than I was when I began. It's amazing how much food for thought Dennett packs between the covers of each, and how artfully ...more
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interessant, maar die filosofen kunnen soms toch wel heel lang stilstaan en blijven tobben over een probleem dat veel sneller en korter kan beredeneerd worden.
Ik hoopte dat dat bij Dennett anders ging zijn. Maar nee...
Steve Losh
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful little book about how to think. The "turning the knobs" idea is something I've already begun to use.

It's actually a surprisingly nice introduction to computer science if you need it.
Boris Limpopo
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dennett, Daniel C. (2013). Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. London: Allen Lane. 2013. ISBN 9780141970127. Pagine 458. 14,03 €
Ho incontrato Dan più di 30 anni fa, e da allora ci siamo sempre frequentati, anche se a volte ci siamo persi di vista per lunghi periodi. Me l'aveva presentato Doug Hofstadter, ma poi siamo diventati amici indipendentemente da lui …

Mi piacerebbe poterlo scrivere non soltanto metaforicamente, ma la realtà letterale è che – dopo avere letto God
Teo 2050
~6.5h @ 2x. Contents:
(view spoiler)
Tadas Talaikis
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice addition to demonology of mind. Not five, because it's not one theme related and barely scratches the top of the iceberg, unlike, for example Consciousness Explained. I've got an idea about "demons", whether they're politburo or just switching (probably both*) from that book, was easy to get, because I deal with computers daemons almost every day.

"I am" is different each morning, depends either on politburo votes (like Google's Pagerank algorithm :-D) of mind demons who will act as "I", or
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, male
Whew, got in a little bit over my head with this one. It got three stars because I liked it - what I understood of it, that is. He covers a lot of challenging topics - evolution, consciousness, free will, and so on, subjects I find fascinating - and even though he does his best to make it accessible to non-philosophers, I still think I needed more foundational philosophy knowledge than I actually have to get the most out of it. The chapters were mercifully short, many just 3-5 pages, and I know ...more
Zimran Ahmed
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greatest philosopher ever.
Cid Medeiros
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dennett collects in this book an interesting inventory of special thought experiments defined by him as intuition pumps. The definition he proposes goes along with what they really do to you: pump your intuition up. They kind guide your thinking towards the core of the subject matter dealt with.

However, as there are some badly designed thought experiments, this is also true for intuition pumps. Dennets explores the bad ones brilliantly. In some very famous cases, the bad ones hold such strong a
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vertaalfout 1 4 Feb 11, 2017 04:20AM  
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Daniel Clement Dennett III is a prominent philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, science, and biology, particularly as they relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett is a noted atheist, avid sailor, and advocate of the Brights move ...more
“I think we should stop treating ["God works in mysterious ways"] as any kind of wisdom and recognize it as the transparently defensive propaganda that it is. A positive response might be, "Oh good! I love a mystery. Let's see if we can solve this one, too. Do you have any ideas?” 13 likes
“No matter how smart you are, you’re smarter if you take the easy ways when they are available.” 12 likes
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