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The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters
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The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  75 reviews
-Compelling, and so beautifully written...'The Mind Club' deftly brings the most up-to-date research about other minds to readers of all backgrounds. It may cause you to think differently about crime and punishment, about business transactions and health care, and even about the upcoming elections. Things might just start looking up.--The Wall Street Journal
From dogs to g
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Penguin Group (first published March 22nd 2016)
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Chris Branch
May 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, I could be wrong, but I suspect this book is primarily the work of Kurt Gray, rather than Daniel Wegner. Having read a couple of books by Wegner, as well as having taken one of his undergraduate courses back in the 80s, it just seems that the voice and tone here is different. And nothing against Gray, but I don't think this book quite measures up to Wegner's work.

The subject matter is fascinating, and well worth the book treatment. But Gray seems to be trying too hard here to be a comedian
Thomas Edmund
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Mind club was just a random book I spotted in the non-fiction section of the library, but I'm very happy I read it. The premise seems deceptively simple at first. The book is an expansion on a study where people were asked about whether they saw various subjects 'minds' as having agency or being purely experiencers. For example children are typically seen as having 'minds' but are largely seen as passive experiencers whereas robots are seen as having minds in the sense of agency and doing st ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do you know that your friends and family aren't mindless zombies? Does your cat love you like you love it? Does God ever get hungry?

This book won't answer those questions but it will make you think outside of the box and ask even more questions which in my opinion is awesome. The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray was a fun ride. These two psychologists look at what makes up a 'mind' and who should be entered into the mind club (e.g. plant
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really got a kick out of this book.

Maybe it is old news to others, but this was my introduction to the concept (or at least the introduction that stuck) of moral patiency. I feel like the moral agency v. moral patiency dichotomy -- the dyadic nature of morality -- is a major "level-up" for my understanding of moral intuitions.

Also, the book called to my attention the work of Derek Parfit, which I am going to spend some time getting better acquainted with.

The book is largely a tour of some of t
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice and page turning book about how we perceive minds around us starting from animals, computers, deceased people and even our own minds.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The central theme of this book is some research about how people feel about different kinds of minds. At it's heart it's a Harvard Business Review style quadrant analysis with the two dimensions being doing and feeling (and doers doing things to feelers). This isn't nearly as interesting (or difficult) as actually trying to understand different minds. This is touched on briefly and mainly via that experiment where people report that they made a decision half a second after their body started doi ...more
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great theory about how we perceive and classify minds giving them moral rights based on agency and experience. It provides great insight on human behaviour based on these mind perceptions.
One of the best books I have read in 2020, for sure. Wegner and Gray argue that mind perception is the critical ingredient in establishing whether something (or someone) has "mind." In other words, they argue that mind is a gift that we grant to something because we recognize either agency or experience in that thing. Morality, then, is something that can be calculated based on the agentic/experience relationship between two minds. A CEO (high agency, low experience) punches a 3 year old girl (h ...more
Rita Vo
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mesmerizing. This book could have you question about your existence and doubt everything you thought you knew. Informative, interesting, yet not actually relaxing to read.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quiz time. Which of the following have minds?

The family dog
An advanced AI program
A corporation
A fetus
A venus fly trap
A bedbug
A person in a vegetative state
An ant colony
A strict religious cult
A person that has been deceased for ten years

The way you answer determines who you think deserves entry into the titular mind club. There is only one entry requirement – you have to have a mind.

This book was a fun, popular treatment of the nebulous concept of mind – what a mind is and what kinds of things
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mind Club is a psychological and philosophical exploration of our perception of minds -- our own minds and the "minds" of others: animals, babies, machines, enemies, "silent minds", groups, the dead, and God. This book provides frameworks for thinking about minds, consciousness, and human behavior more generally, all founded on the principle that we perceive minds through a dyadic lens: they exhibit agency (and are therefore considered agents) and / or have the ability to experience (and are ...more
Scott Wozniak
This was an interesting philosophical and scientific exploration of what it means to have a mind--and how whether we believe that about another creature has big impact on how we treat them. From slavery to artificial intelligence to abortion, this is at the heart of our choices.

The book gets high marks for identifying two independent variables to a mind: the ability to act as we choose and the ability to experience, especially to suffer. We can believe high or low for each person. For example a
Richard Thompson
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A intriguing look at "mind" and consciousness that I hadn't come across in my other readings. I Wegner's view (and the view of his collaborator, Kurt Gray) mind isn't something that we can observe so we construct and image the minds of those in our environment (including our own). We intuitively sort people, animals, infants, robots, corporations, coma victims and dead people according to how much "mind" we perceive them to have. We also — and this was the interesting twist on the subject — see ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More Books Like This, Please!

This was a satisfying sampler of psychology and philosophy. I call it a sampler because it's the first book of its kind that I've read and it whet my appetite for more. While reading this, I supplemented it with Crash Course Philosophy on YouTube and Robert Arp's The Devil and Philosophy. I needed the former to better understand the latter, but watching those videos while reading this book was a winning combination, too. My perception of the world is forever changed.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a folksy popular psychology book written by erudite authors. The agent/patient duality is an interesting one and provides useful insights in two chapters in particular: the enemy and he group. The patient is quite a good chapter, but the chapter on the animal was thin except where it leant on Peter Singer. The chapters on the dead and God had me skimming over them, but I went back just in case there was something. I was disappointed.
Overall I came away with half a dozen well thought out
Ryan Young
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what is a mind? who or what qualifies as having a mind? how does granting something or someone a 'mind' change the way we need to treat them? at what point does a creature deserve something on the order of human rights? at what point do we hold a human 100% responsible for its actions? how about 0%? why do humans seek an agent to explain phenomena of all kinds? the mind club explores these questions and more! ...more
Chris Esposo
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors of “The Mind Club” have succeeded in writing a book that simultaneously addresses a wide range of timely and relevant issues with respect to the theory of the mind, namely: how is it that people attribute “humanity” to people, animals, and even machines? Though seemingly abstract on first blush, the question is a highly important one, touching on a variety of social issues, from societal racism, the nature of religious beliefs, and how they form, animal rights, to how we design artif ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: green, blue
This book opens with a pretty heavy piece of news. One of the authors, Daniel Wegner, died before it was published. What is more, he died of ALS, and towards the very end of his life, he was essentially a mind only, with his body able to do little more than breathe (and eventually, not even that). It is almost certainly not a complete coincidence that Wegner had become interested in the topic, but since he was a Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he must have had an interest in the relations be ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I hovered between a 3 and a 4 for this book.

Things that make it a 3:
- It's a little insensitive at some points (not very politically correct) but I know that isn't the reason the book was written.
- The chapters often meander a little too far off the main topic of the chapter (but always bring it back home by the end of it.)
- There was a little too much "This chapter will be about XYZ" -- show me, don't tell me. But I know that showing is more in novels, and this was nonfiction.

Things that ultim
Rodrigo Leonardo
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wondered if there is a soul within yourself? What makes you, you? Well, the existence of the mind explains some of the soul's attributed faculties while still leaving the aforementioned questions unanswered. It turns out that individuals who have departed this life are still alive in your thoughts, in your mind. They belong to a special intangible and abstract place, called the Mind Club.

Some people love their pets more than they regard their human enemies. There are also respecte
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anything that is perceived to have both agency and patiency is a mind. However, our perceptions get frequently distorted through anthropomorphism, anthropocentrism, machine-state functionalism, egocentrism, dehumanization, objectification, entitativity, intuitive mind-body dualism, and apophenia, to name a few examples. Our propensity to multistable perception renders the simultaneous perception of agency/patiency and mind/body at times difficult, further distorting our views towards sentience. ...more
I was quite disappointed in this book. Chris Branch's insightful review below sums up the main reasons why I felt this way. I would only add two comments. First, that I found the authors assumption that psychology is a science, along with their sometimes specious arguments relying on this assumption, problematic. Second, I found the injection of politics into unnecessary realms (usually accompanied by a lack of parallel structure) aggravating and distracting in a book that should have been apoli ...more
Florent Diverchy
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very comprehensive introduction to all the questions related to mind:
- Which animals do we perceive as having a mind, and why?
- Why, during war, we try to forget that our enemies have mind too?
- When will we be able to say that a machine has a mind?
- When does mind arise in the unborn child
- At which moment of death is the mind disappearing?
- Do people in coma or vegetative state have a mind?
And many more question you were not expecting but who tend to be very interesting and thought provoking
Keegan Loveless
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mind Club was small wade into the often turbulent waters of mind perception. D. Wegner & K. Gray do an excellent job rounding up a variety of studies that analyze what it means to have a mind and who/what receives such an acknowledgment. While sources are plentiful, there were times where these studies beckoned for more detailed explanations of their results and impact. The tone of the book was near perfect; D. Wegner and K. Gray did an excellent job of maintaining fresh, digestible dialogue ...more
J Crossley
This philosophical book looks at what makes a mind a mind. How do we think about thinking, and how do we see other beings and their minds. People look at minds in two realms. One is the inside mind, which is experience, and the other is the from the outside, which is agency. It seems that there are many ways that we skew other people’s minds. For instance, we see our enemies as having limited or distorted minds, and we see animals that are more like ourselves as having a better mind than animals ...more
Bill Holmes
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this to learn more about how your subconscious mind works to explain events and place blame. I was fascinated by discussion of dyadic completion, or how we tend to attribute intentions to the actions of people or things. This book helped me better understand other's behavior as well as my own. It is a nice compliment to Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. ...more
David Teachout
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, psychology, audio
Filled with great research and wit, this is a book you read when you want your intuitive thoughts challenged and sense of self questioned. A careful look at what “mind” is, how we use the concept and it’s implications for how we live our lives. The struggle with what you learn here is worth every moment.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eloquently and clearly written book that directly captures your interest and mind.
It simplifies all the important points in a storytelling format that is easy to grasp and understand.
Everyone who is interested to know more about how the world is, and how we as people are in different circumstances should read this book.
Nimish Maskara
There's not much in this book.
The concept about people possessing agency(rational decision making ability) and experience(ability to feel emotions) which determines moral treatment. Dyadic completion. That's all, added with instances and subjective interpretations that were insignificant to me.
I feel that a lot of time what research shows through correlation studies dont have much basis in the actual world- the book was filled of such which is include under "subjective interpretations". However
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much to think about here. Some interesting research and some great questions. There were several pronouncements in there that I thought needed more evidence. The section on free will, in my opinion was the weakest. Or perhaps I just wanted more.
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