Illustrated by Andy Martin
What is happiness? Why do we fall in love? How do we recognise faces? Pinker's exhilarating book explores the machinery of the mind – its origins and development, and how we use it to interact with the world.
Steven Pinker is a leading authority on cognitive science and linguistics. In this exhilarating book he explores the machinery of the mind – its origins and development, and how we use it to see, think, feel, interact and grapple with the mysteries of our existence. What is happiness? Why do phobias of spiders and peanut butter exist? How is it that memories fade? Why do we fall in love? What makes us laugh? And why do people believe in ghosts and spirits? Pinker answers these imponderables by drawing from a number of ideas about the mind – in particular the evolutionary theory – and crafts them into a gripping, cohesive account of human psychology.
'Witty, lucid, and ultimately enthralling'
How the Mind Works is as lively and engaging as it is erudite. Whether considering the perception of beauty or the psychology of the Doomsday Machine, Pinker makes complex ideas easy to grasp. Throughout, he gives witty context to his argument with references to music, film and literature, such as Ambrose Bierce’s scathing definition of humankind (‘An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be’). In explaining the nature of vision he looks at the effect of polarising filters on the eye, ‘used to excellent effect by Alfred Hitchcock in Dial “M” for Murder … The same cannot be said for the film adaptation of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, in which a dancer belts out “Too Darn Hot” on a coffee table while flinging scarves at the camera’. A finalist for the Pulitzer prize, this fascinating and, on publication, controversial book offers a new way of understanding the mind through the lens of human evolution.
This edition includes the author’s foreword from the 2009 American edition. Andy Martin has created a series of intriguing images. His layered illustrations are perfectly suited to Pinker’s writing, employing colour, text and carefully chosen visuals to juxtapose concepts and ideas.
‘Pinker has a remarkable capacity to explain ideas and he writes with the comic verve of Martin Amis or Woody Allen – How the Mind Works will change the way your mind works’
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Review by Sam Talbot on 4th Jul 2014
"This book comes bound beautifully and is really fascinating to read. I would highly recommend this to read in the future. "