A great, easy to digest, and thorough walk through of cognitive processes. Humorous when it needs to be. Well put together.
As far as non-fiction works, it ranks highly due to the amount of information kept inside. The neurology which lead to the enduring concepts of social biology, ideology, and, of course, natural selection takes up the majority of the book, starting out with how the brain functions on the most basic levels, then building to what the brain's natural functions can accomplish through investigation and imagination.
I found the chapter called Family Values to be a most entertaining section because of the various relationship scenarios Pinker discusses and evaluates. No matter what section you're in - Kith and Kin, Parents and Children, Brothers and Sisters, Men and Women, Husbands and Wives, Rivals, Friends and Acquaintances, Allies and Enemies, Humanity - Pinker breaks down the need for these relationships and how they helped shape the history of our (and other creatures') evolution and how they will guide our future.
I enjoyed the discussion of which problems 'continue to baffle the modern mind'. Whether it's the consciousness of sentience or subjective experience, what constitutes the self, free will, meaning, knowledge, and morality. This philosophical section discusses the past approaches to defining the previous words as well as the solution that he's partial to: "We are organisms ... and our minds are organs, not pipelines to the truth. Our minds evolved by natural selection to solve problems that were life-and-death matters to our ancestors, not to commune with correctness of to answer any question we are capable of asking. We cannot hold ten thousand words in short-term memory. We cannot see in ultraviolet light. We cannot mentally rotate an object in the fourth dimension. And perhaps we cannot solve conundrums like free will and sentience." He then goes on to wonder if there are greater creatures in the universe who have evolved to greater intellectual powers than we maintain.
I was amazed at how the simplest concepts of biological evolution can provide solutions to the greatest questions that history has thrown our way. Pinker describes how the brain and/or imagination works very well and, though I didn't laugh out loud, there were several smiles on my face due to Pinker's ability to explain the concepts thoroughly.
The narrator, Mel Foster, takes his time with the text and is sure to pronounce things well, even in places where it would be common to get tongue-tied. Though the simple subject matter of the brain and its evolution covers a wide range of results, the vast information is covered clearly, illustrating how the brain computes the simplest and most complicated concepts.
Had the author not attributed everything to the evolution theory. Also, if the book would have concentrated more on backing the text to the title. Too many theories were told. Not enough, this is why some people do this, and why some people do that.
I wish I could get my money back. I'm not even half-way through he first section of 4 sections. I can't stomach anymore.
Yes, obviously I can't read while driving to work.
He reads in an interested, engaged and clear to understand manner.
It made me think, think and realize things that have been going on all around my my whole life and I didn't realize.
I will listen to this one a few more time I think.
If it were much, much shorter.
The title seeme more interesting than the actual book.
More than 1/2 way through, and still didn't have any idea where the book was going.
No point was being made. Just a string of thoughts. Kind of like Kurt Vonnegot's
No. He did an excellent job.
Maybe, if I could have held out longer, I'd have seen a point to it. But, life is way too short. On to the next book. (By the way, I only very rarely give up on a book.)