Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel C Dennett - review by David Papineau

David Papineau

Clearing the Head

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 496pp £20

According to modern science, we live in a material world. Everything that happens depends on the play of fundamental particles moving in strict accord with the laws of physics. Nothing is exempt. Stars, rainbows, plant growth, animal behaviour and the antics of our own exquisite selves are all essentially physical processes. If it doesn’t seem like that to us at first sight, this is only because of the unrevealing ways in which our material brains respond to the material world.

Many people react to the materialist news with dismay. If materialism were true, they feel, then life wouldn’t be worth living. What would be the point of anything, if there were nothing more to our choices and ambitions than electrical messages shuttling around in our brain? And dismay leads to

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