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Mass Market Paperback Guided Meditation. Creative Visualization for Generating Energy and Managing Stress Book

ISBN: 0965838048

ISBN13: 9780965838047

Guided Meditation. Creative Visualization for Generating Energy and Managing Stress

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Great Explanation of the Mysteries of the Mind

I became interested in how the mind works as part of my research into the topic of the conscious web. I asked the question "what is consciousness?" and I figured out Pinker's book was a good place to start. Ray Kurzweil also quoted Pinker frequently in Kurzweil's book "The Age of Spiritual Machines" which I also loved. So although I just started with a single question I learned a lot more then I thought I would. I really appreciated Pinker's efforts to explain the mind as a series of interconnected processing units, where each processing unit needed to be understood from an evolutionary basis. He calls this "Natural Computation" and the concepts are very useful in explaining many aspects of the mind. I learned not just about models of consciousness being a model of the real world in our own brain where we exist in that model but also about topics like raising kids, dealing with family issues, emotions and the biological/evolutionary basis of love.The book has been researched very well. This book has excellent notes and a large list of references for further reading.My only criticism about this book is that Pinker sometimes draws on an unnecessarily large vocabulary, making his points difficult to understand in some parts. A little stronger editing might have helped here. How often do you use the word "palimpsest" in ordinary conversation? This is good if you want to expand your vocabulary but painful at times.But all-in-all Pinker has done a great job explaining how the mind works. The title is correct.

Empirical Science's take on Human Nature

The title of this book is something of a misnomer. The book is about more than just the mind: it is about the entire human being, with special focus on the motivational complexes stemming, in part at least, from innate, genetic factors within the human organism. Pinker discusses human nature from the viewpoint of evolutionary psychology. "Our physical organs owe their complex design to the information in the human genome," Pinker argues, "and so, I believe, do our mental organs." Starting from this premise, he attempts to "reverse engineer" the innate characteristics of human beings, assuming that man's genetic endowment is shaped by natural selection. "Reverse-engineering is possible only when one has a hint of what the device was designed to accomplish," Pinker argues. And what, may we ask, was the human device meant to accomplish? Well, since most of the evolution affecting the human mind and human motivational psychology took place during the hunterer-gatherer stage of human development, the human device was engineered to spread its genetics under conditions affecting men when they lived on the savannahs in Africa. This curious thesis, which many will automatically dismiss as absurd, is, under Pinker's advocacy, far more convincing then one would assume at first glance. Pinker marshals a host of fascinating evidence which demonstrates that, whether his basic thesis is correct or not, it certainly cannot be dismissed as implausible.But the real value of the book is not so much its espousal of the controversial theories stemming out of evolutionary psychology, but its brilliantly empirical description of human nature. From the very start, Pinker admits that his book represents "a departure from the dominant view of the human mind in our intellectual tradition, which [is known as] the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM)." According to the SSSM, human nature is largely the product of arbitrary cultural factors. Rejecting an innate human nature, SSSM goes on to conclude that social engineers (e.g., Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro) can make of human beings what they please. This point of view, which is seen as "progressive" and benign, is totalitarian in practice. As Pinker points out, "If people's stated desires were just some kind of erasable inscription or reprogrammable brainwashing, any atrocity could be justified."The issue over whether human nature is innate is probably the most important question facing social theorists and political philosophers. Pinker's innate biological view of the human mind leads him to adopt what is essentially the view of conservatives and traditional Christianity: the view, in short, that human beings are limited in their moral and spiritual potential, that, in other words, they are tainted by their biological inheritance. Ironically, Pinker, a materialist, Darwinist and atheist believes in a scientific version of the Christian doctrine of original sin. Christians and evolutionists have long been at

Superb account of the mind

Steven Pinker is Professor of Psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the renowned books, `The language instinct' (Penguin, 1995) and `Words and rules: the ingredients of language' (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000). In this book, described by one reviewer as `the best book ever written on the human mind', he puts forward a general theory about how and why the human mind works the way it does. Yet it is not a ponderous book; it is beautifully written and full of jokes and stories. Pinker marries Darwin's theory of evolution to the latest developments in neuroscience and computation. He shows in detail how the process of natural selection shaped our entire neurological networks; how the struggle for survival selects from among our genes those most fit to flourish in our environment. Nature has produced in us bodies, brains and minds attuned to coping intelligently with whatever our environment demands. Housed in our bodies, our minds structure neural networks into adaptive programmes for handling our perceptions. Pinker concludes, "The mind is a system of organs of computation, designed by natural selection to solve the kinds of problems our ancestors faced in their foraging way of life." Our beliefs and desires are information, allowing us to create meaning. "Beliefs are inscriptions in memory, desires are goal inscriptions, thinking is computation, perceptions are inscriptions triggered by sensors, trying is executing operations triggered by a goal." Pinker writes that the mind has a `design stance' for dealing with artefacts, a `physical stance' for dealing with objects, and an `intentional stance' for dealing with people. "Causal and inferential roles tend to be in sync because natural selection designed both our perceptual and our inferential modules to work accurately, most of the time, in this world." With this down-to-earth kind of explanation, there is no need to invoke mysterious intangible powers: "We don't need spirits or occult forces to explain intelligence." Pinker sums up the recent amazing developments in neurobiology and cognitive science. This book, like those by his colleagues Daniel Dennett (`Darwin's dangerous idea' and `Consciousness explained') and Richard Dawkins (`River out of Eden' and `Unweaving the rainbow'), should be required reading. They are all Darwinians, but then why shouldn't they be? It is just like saying that all physicists are Einsteinians nowadays, or that all poets and playwrights are Shakespeareans, or that all osteopaths are Stillians. Their books make Karl Popper, so hostile to Darwin, and Californian gurus like Fritjof Capra, sadly outdated.Good science, like Darwinism generally, in no way undermines osteopathy. In fact, by giving coherent, intelligible accounts of the ways in which our bodies and minds have evolved, writers like Pinker can help us to understand better how and why our bodies work in the ways they do.

How Pinker's Book Works...

...brilliantly! I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to compile this book. Pinker uses the computational theory of mind and evolutionary biology to dismantle the most difficult philosophical, psychological, cultural, and biological problems in existence.This book contains countless "Aha!" moments. I particularly appreciated the sections on sex and love. I thought, "so that's why women act as they do!" And the analysis of arts and entertainment: I mused, "Oh, that's why I like music!"The author's style is incredibly concise, entertaining, and smooth. He forgoes the verbiage and gets right to the heart of humankind's oldest questions. I love his use of relevant real-life examples.I can see why "How the Mind Works" draws so much criticism. Pinker explicitly states that he is against the Standard Social Science Model ("there is no human nature, it's all culture and environment"). In addition, he never relies on magical thinking, religious sentiments, or the appeal to tradition.However, Pinker respects the feminist, the religionist, and many others. His (often borrowed) ideas apply to everyone with an interest in improving themselves, helping their loved ones, and understanding humanity in general.

Excellent book that elucidates many areas of the human mind.

"How the Mind Works" by Steven Pinker is one ofthe best books available today about the human mind. It is wideranging, extremely well written, and has an thorough bibliography.The book gives an excellent introduction to cognitive science, which explores the human mind in terms of the composite fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and philosophy. One can read the entire book, take notes, and learn as much in a week or two as one would in a semester college course(s).The central ideas of the book involve the computational theory of mind and the theory of evolution. Pinker argues that the mind is a modular, information processing, natural adaptation.In reading about current brain research, I must say that it is amazing how much scientists can learn about the brain simply from close observation of animals, children, brain injury patients, twin siblings, and computerized robots. Pinker also includes important topics such as human emotion, social relations, and the arts. ...Pinker clearly and emphatically addresses the naturalistic fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy involves deriving "ought" from "is". That is to say, the way things were is not necessarily the way things have to be or should be. He leaves plenty of room for human freewill and ethics.To sum up, an excellent book that elucidates many areas of the human mind.
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