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Publisher's Summary

Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense?
In their groundbreaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma. Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs and decisions on our own. What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications and arguments that others address to us. In other words, reason helps humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment.
This interactionist interpretation explains why reason may have evolved and how it fits with other cognitive mechanisms. It makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologists-why reason is biased in favor of what we already believe, why it may lead to terrible ideas and yet is indispensable to spreading good ones.
©2017 Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber (P)2017 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Wayne on 05-22-18

Interesting, but boringly redundant

Let's start with narration which is not very good. On the other hand I doubt that any other narrator could have done better with the circular redundancy of this book. There really is nothing new here. The final chapter which is 20 minutes in length summarizes the authors' positions on reason and reasoning well and is adequate. Worthwhile? Yes, but more so with far less verbiage.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Log Jammin on 12-11-17

reason is flawed but purposefully so

the authors make a solid case for the bias and laziness of reason to have evolved with the purpose of homo sapiens need to argue and defend their actions to others. since homo sapiens live in a highly social environment, reason should be considered another of the items in the toolbox that led to large-scale organization. beyond that, the authors convincingly portray reason as largely misunderstood and place it in its proper evolutionary perspective.

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27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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