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Publisher's Summary

In this delightful, acclaimed best seller, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness?
How the Mind Works synthesizes the most satisfying explanations of our mental life from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and other fields to explain what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and contemplate the mysteries of life. This new edition of Pinker’s bold and buoyant classic is updated with a new foreword by the author.
©2011 Steven Pinker (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

“Undeniably brilliant.” ( Newsday)
"Big, brash, and a lot of fun.” ( Time)
“Hugely entertaining.... always sparkling and provoking.” ( Wall Street Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By David on 12-11-11

Excellent, but a difficult listen.

What made the experience of listening to How the Mind Works the most enjoyable?

Pinker answers a lot of questions about how and why people think the way they do. As always, he doesn't just make assertions, he backs everything up by explaining the state of the research and the ideas of the researchers in the field (even when those ideas are different from his). It's a much easier read than actual research papers, and has wit and good story telling to leven the large doses of information, but it's not easy to follow when listening. It requires a lot of concentration or you can do what I did and just listen to everything twice, sometimes three times, until you get it.

If you consider yourself an intellectual, you'll want to be familiar with Stephen Pinker's work. The Better Angels of our Nature, and The Blank Slate are easier to pick up just listening once so I would recommend one of those as a place to start.

This book was written more than 10 years ago. It's holding up very well though and an afterword written only a couple of years ago is included which explains how recent research relates to the book.

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97 of 99 people found this review helpful

By David on 04-30-12


This is one of my favorite books, and the audio format does not disappoint. If you're interested about human nature, why we are the way we are, why we're so smart, why we're conscious, and even why fools fall in love, this book is for you. (But be warned, this book is for people who like to think; don't expect to breeze through it like a malcom gladwell book.) Also, one recommendation: unless you're really interested in visual perception, I would recommend skipping the chapter called "The Mind's Eye," as it is hard to follow in audio format without the pictures, and it is the most technical chapter.

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31 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Christopher Wilton on 01-19-12

Excellent But Long Winded

Having listened to "The Better Angels of Our Nature" with great pleasure, I was perhaps primed to expect too much from this earlier and equally lengthy audiobook. But where as the aforementioned kept my interest throughout, there are some parts of this book that are deeply, deeply dull to anyone but the specialist.

The second six-hour block of the book is given over entirely to optics and perception, a subject difficult enough to grasp in written words, let alone being read out aloud. - As this section drags on it becomes more and more of chore to listen to, which is a shame because there is so much in this book worth listening to on both sides of that abyss.

An editor with a bit more nerve might have insisted that Pinker truncate that section of the book which was clearly the author's person hobby horse, alas listeners will have to suffer for the sake of it.

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22 of 23 people found this review helpful

By Judy Corstjens on 08-31-15

How the World Works

I read this when it came out - 1997 - and was stunned then. Re-listening now, I find some of the references (e.g. to computers) have dated a bit, but my main reaction is how the contents of this book have been more or less assimilated as the basis of our modern understanding of the world. Evolutionary biology is such a satisfying logical basis for exploring human strategies and capacities - of cooperation, competition, status-seeking, mating, making war, art, physically seeing - that once you have it carefully explained by someone like Steven Pinker, you don't forget it (like I forget history books) and nothing else (e.g. cultural feminism) competes as a coherent explanation. I did get more out of a second reading, but the most surprising thing was how much had stuck, and become the wallpaper of 'my' mind.

Warning - rather slow start with extensive technical details on visual perception. Some readers might get put off by that and not persevere to the more 'social' issues, which get more interesting as the book progresses.

Narration. Mel Foster is clearly a professional actor/reader, and delivers a perfect performance, in a voice completely appropriate to SP as a Harvard professor.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Leigh on 06-21-17

Not sure how this book became a best seller

What disappointed you about How the Mind Works?

This book needed a good edit. I struggled to remain interested while waiting to find out the point of what was being expressed.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

By Brendan on 03-05-17

An awesome book in every sense

Though the title is ambitious, Pinker's explinations are logical and clearly thought out. A truly fascinating read.

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