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The Boston Globe


book review

‘Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking’ by Daniel Dennett

In his long career, philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett has made substantial contributions to — and stirred considerable controversy in — our thinking about human behavior and the very nature of the human mind.

In books like “Brainstorms” and “Consciousness Explained’’ he tries to demystify consciousness and argues that the brain is, essentially, a kind of computer. In “Elbow Room’’ and “Freedom Evolves’’ he attempts to demystify free will, arguing that a purely mechanical organism without a soul or immaterial mind can nevertheless be genuinely free. And in “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and “Breaking the Spell’’ Dennett, a committed atheist, suggests that the most important aspects of human life, including culture, morality, and religion, are best understood through the lens of Darwinian evolution via natural selection.

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