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The Enigma of Reason-logo

The Enigma of Reason

Hugo Mercier

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.

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.
More Information

Description:

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.

Language:

English

Narrators:

Dan Sperber, Liam Gerrard

Length:

14h 57m


Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

34:00


Chapter 2
Chapter 2

50:06


Chapter 3
Chapter 3

41:49


Chapter 4
Chapter 4

45:50


Chapter 5
Chapter 5

23:53


Chapter 6
Chapter 6

38:06


Chapter 7
Chapter 7

43:52


Chapter 8
Chapter 8

58:07


Chapter 9
Chapter 9

55:44


Chapter 10
Chapter 10

28:02


Chapter 11
Chapter 11

44:13


Chapter 12
Chapter 12

33:42


Chapter 13
Chapter 13

41:13


Chapter 14
Chapter 14

50:09


Chapter 15
Chapter 15

37:22


Chapter 16
Chapter 16

40:22


Chapter 17
Chapter 17

29:57


Chapter 18
Chapter 18

34:37


Chapter 19
Chapter 19

26:20


Chapter 20
Chapter 20

38:38


Chapter 21
Chapter 21

46:24


Chapter 22
Chapter 22

34:08


Chapter 23
Chapter 23

20:37