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About the Series:
Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
1. What is thought?
2. The mechanical mind
3. The inner sanctum
4. Of brutes and babes
5. 'They don't think like we do'
6. Thought gone wrong
7. The ethics of thought
8. The limits of thought
Posted January 1, 2014
Thinking is a quintessential human activity. Capacity to think is considered such a prominent human trait that the very name of our species – Homo sapiens – means “thinking man.” Thinking comes so naturally to us that most of us rarely reflect on the fact that it’s a very complex activity. In fact, it’s very hard to properly define what thought really is.
This very short introduction aims to give the reader a better understanding of what thought and thinking are all about. The approach is predominantly philosophical, although it contains a fair dose of contemporary psychological and scientific understanding of thought processes and human mind in general. The book is very well written and it’s generally accessible, although some parts can be conceptually challenging. Readers should ideally have some familiarity with the philosophical ways of thinking and be willing to engage and entertain some pretty abstract concepts. The book presents various contemporary views on variability and malleability of thought between different individuals and across cultures. This is actually a very contentious academic area, and the book tries to be neutral between various arguments. (Sometimes to the fault, in my opinion.)
It is probably impossible to cover every topic pertaining to the idea of though in such a short book, but I do wish there were few interesting ones that were covered. In particular, I wish the book covered more on the topic of intelligence, and at least introduced artificial intelligence. The latter is one of the topics that I am very interested in, and over the past few years it has become a field that has brought out a lot of practical applications.
I really enjoyed reading this book, but its approach might be more academic than what one would have expected from a book intended for a very general audience.
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