Thinking Twice: Two minds in one brain

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Overview


Common sense would suggest that we are in complete control of the actions we perform - that all our actions are the result of considered and conscious preparation. Yet, there are countless examples of this control breaking down, for example, in the case of phobias and compulsive actions. We can all recall those times when, in the 'heat of the moment', our actions have been very different to those that would have resulted from calm and considered reflection. In extreme moments of 'absent-mindedness' our actions can even have castastrophic consequences, resulting in harm to ourselves or others. So why does this happen - why do apparently rational and intelligent beings make, what appear to be, such fundamental errors in their thinking.

This book explores the idea that humans have two distinct minds within their brains: one intuitive and the other reflective.
The intuitive mind is old, evolved early, and shares many of its features with animal cognition. It is the source of emotion and intuitions, and reflects both the habits acquired in our lifetime and the adaptive behaviours evolved by ancient ancestors.
The reflective mind, by contrast, is recently evolved and distinctively human: it enables us to think in abstract and hypothetical ways about the world around us and to calculate the future consequences of our actions. The evolution of the new, reflective mind is linked with the development of language and the very large forebrains that distinguish humans from other species; it has also given us our unique human form of intelligence. On occasions though, our two minds can come into in conflict, and when this happens, the old mind often wins. These conflicts are often rationalised so that we, conscious persons, are unaware that the intuitive mind is in control.

Written by a leading cognitive scientist, this book demonstrates how much of our behaviour is controlled by automatic and intuitive mental processes, which shape, as well as compete, with our conscious thinking and decision making. Accessibly written, and assuming no prior knowledge of the field, the book will be fascinating reading for all those interested in human behaviour, including students and researchers in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Reviewer: Michael S. Goldsby, PhD, CCRP (Family Psychiatry of The Woodlands)
Description: A profound thinker, scholarly author, and leading cognitive scientist, Jonathan Evans, offers a brilliant new theory on the processes involved in human reasoning and judgment. The two minds hypothesis is a breakthrough in understanding the way in which humans make decisions and act on those decisions. This fascinating book takes an in-depth look at the higher functions of the brain that control our behavior, and explains the ideas and rationale behind the hypothesis that there are two minds actively at work in our brains.
Purpose: The purpose is to offer an overview of the dual process theories of higher cognition and to introduce the author's two minds hypothesis, which is a direct result of a three-year sabbatical during which he worked exclusively on the research for this theory.
Audience: The book is intended to make the ideas and concepts easy to understand for lay people as well as a scholarly audience. Anyone in academia or psychological and philosophical research and lay people who wish to know more about theories of conscious and unconscious thought and behaviors will find this book very accessible.
Features: The author proposes that there are two minds in one brain, capable of two distinctly different ways of knowing, two ways of thinking, and two ways of acting. The author explains his hypothesis, as well as the evolutionary foundations of the brain, covering topics such as reasoning and imagination, cognition, and human ways of knowing and deciding. Featured throughout are contributions from the author's research and experience, as well as from leading theorists and behavioral researchers, on how much of our behavior is controlled by two distinct cognitive systems.
Assessment: As the definitive authority on dual processes of the brain, the author explains a groundbreaking theory of profound implications for understanding how the mind processes information and how we act as a result of those cognitive processes. One mind is an evolutionary newer mind which helps us to think in abstract, hypothetical ways, while the second, much older mind controls emotion and intuition. Scholarly in content, yet easy to read, this is an absolutely fascinating book for anyone is interested in the way cognitive processes are directly connected to our actions. This is a must-read book for graduate students in the social sciences.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199547296
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Evans is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Plymouth. He has conducted a major experimental research programme into human reasoning and judgement since the 1970's and has authored seven previous books and well over 150 scientific articles on these topics. He has played a major part in the development of the dual process theories of higher cognition and is one of the principal architects of the two minds theory which is the focus of this book

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Table of Contents

1. The two minds hypothesis
2. Evolutionary foundations
3. Two ways of knowing
4. Two ways of deciding
5. Reasoning and imagination
6. Thinking about the social world
7. Consciousness and control
8. The two minds in action: co-operation and conflict Addendum: Some technical issues References

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