bup's Reviews > How the Mind Works

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
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's review
Jun 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, science, consciousness
Read from July 26 to August 31, 2012

I appreciate that Pinker doesn't pretend that his exploration and analysis of the brain doesn't really explain consciousness, self-awareness, and that he admits that nobody has explained them, even if they claim to. So right away, I get that he gets it's a tough problem, and it's too easy to say consciousness doesn't exist.

It does.

The early chapters, then, are pretty interesting. So were the later chapters, but Pinker seemed to forget what his book was about when he got into the chapter about families and sexual behavior. Interesting, but too far away from how the brain works. And really long.

Then I liked the last chapter again, especially the ending. If philosophers for millennia haven't been able to reconcile self-awareness with meat and electrical impulses, maybe it's not the problem is unsolvable, but only that our brains aren't made to think like that. We evolved to do what we do well, and things that are visual (for instance, geometry, our understanding of time) are right up our alley. Maybe, just like most people can't really imagine 4 dimensions the way they are, because our brains just aren't made for it, so we can't really understand consciousness. I'll keep looking, but maybe that's correct, too.

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