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Figments of Reality

Figments of Reality
The Evolution of the Curious Mind

$29.95 (G)

  • Date Published: October 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521663830

$ 29.95 (G)
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About the Authors
  • Peppered with wit and controversial topics, this is a refreshing new look at the co-evolution of mind and culture. Bestselling authors Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen (The Collapse of Chaos, 1994) eloquently argue that our minds evolved within an inextricable link with culture and language. They go beyond conventional views of the function and purpose of the mind to look at the ways that the mind is the response of an evolving brain that is constantly adjusting to a complex environment. Along the way they develop new and intriguing insights into the nature of evolution, science, and humanity that will challenge conventional views on consciousness. The esteemed authors tantalize the reader with these bold new outlooks while putting a revolutionary spin on such classic philosophical problems as the nature of free will and the essence of humanity. This clearly written and enjoyable book will inspire any educated reader to critically evaluate the existing notions of the nature of the human mind.

    • Bestselling team of mathematician Ian Stewart, top popular science writer, and internationally known biologist Jack Cohen
    • Brilliantly looks at how human culture, mind and intelligence have evolved together
    • Peppered with lively debate and humour from the authors of the acclaimed The Collapse of Chaos
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "One of the most heartening and innovative books of the year...This kind of book explodes the notion of the imminent and final theory of everything; by the same token, it shows that the death of science has been greatly exaggerated." The Sunday Times of London

    "[The authors] are witty, erudite, clever, and generally clear-headed in this rationalist's view of the universe and human evolution...delightful..." Library Journal

    "It analyzes the evolution of mankind's consciousness from a new and intriguing perspective. It argues that the mind evolved in the context of culture and language, aiding survival in a complex and competitive world." Biology Digest

    "The most thought-provoking book I've read all year." Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series

    "A stimulating theory of how mind, consciousness, and culture have coevolved to create our species by two masters of informed, scientific speculation. Try it...you'll learn a lot. Who could ask for more?" John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute and Technical University of Vienna, author of Would-Be Worlds

    "Figments of Reality is highly recommended for college-level collections and any non-specialist general reader." Bookwatch

    "A delightful read that is excellent for academic collections and general collections with a highly literate readership." Mark L. Shelton, Library Journal

    "Stewart and Cohen show how intelligence and extelligence interact by way of language and how the end product formulates culture...the authors are quick-witted and provide a lively exposition." Science News

    "While the subject matter is rather heady, the authors are quickwitted and provide a lively exposition." Science News Books

    "It analyzes the evolution of mankind's consciousness from a new and intriguing perspective. It argues that the mind evolved in the context of culture and language, aiding survival in a complex and competitive world." Biology Digest

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 1999
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521663830
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 35 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    Prologue
    1. The origins of life
    2. The reductionist nightmare
    3. Ant country
    4. Winning ways
    5. Universals and parochials
    6. Neural nests
    7. Features great and small
    8. What is it like to be a human?
    9. We wanted to have a chapter on free will, but we decided not to, so here it is
    10. Extelligence
    11. Simplex, complex, multiplex
    Epilogue
    Notes
    Further reading
    Index.

  • Authors

    Ian Stewart, University of Warwick

    Jack Cohen, University of Warwick

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