Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel C. Dennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Being a long time admirer of Dennett I approached this book somewhat enthusiastically. Some mind-tools from the man himself?! Whoho!
Unfortunately there aren’t that many general tools in this book, although it starts of with some basics in understanding and meaning. It then goes on to carefully explain a number thought experiments, or as Dennett calls them “Intuition Pumps”, all related to, or expanding and explaining Dennetts position on meaning, mind and evolution. So although I was sad not to get more general and abstract gems from one of the clearest thinkers I know of, I was extremely happy with the rest. Because even though I’ve read quite a bit of Dennett this was the simplest and most accessible text so far and it fleshed out my understanding of some of his positions.
In particular, his down to earth introduction to computing provided a much needed foundation for his stance on free will. Even though I know computing fairly well it was very instructive to hear him explain, and as he did so I started to see more clearly where he would go with more advanced topics. I freely confess that I would have benefited greatly from this book before I read “Freedom Evolves”.
Regarded as an introduction to Daniel Dennett, this book is awesome. Carefully constructed and executed. And even if you’ve read him before I think that you, like me, will walk away from the book excited and some useful tools for thinking.