Are we evolved computers?: A critical review of Steven Pinker's how the mind works [Book Review]

Philosophical Psychology 14 (2):227 – 243 (2001)

Selmer Bringsjord
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Steven Pinker's How the mind works (HTMW) marks in my opinion an historic point in the history of humankind's attempt to understand itself. Socrates delivered his "know thyself" imperative rather long ago, and now, finally, in this behemoth of a book, published at the dawn of a new millennium, Pinker steps up to have psychology tell us what we are: computers crafted by evolution - end of story; mystery solved; and the poor philosophers, having never managed to obey Socrates' command, are left alone to wander in the labyrinth of their benighted speculation forever. Unfortunately, though HTMW is to this point the crowning attempt of psychology to make systematic sense of persons by integrating everything relevant science knows, the book fails - and it fails so fundamentally and irremediably that we would do well to wonder anew whether we should supplant the basic view it promotes with what I call the super-mind hypothesis: the view that though mere animals are evolved computers, persons are more.
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DOI 10.1080/09515080120051580
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References found in this work BETA

The Language Instinct.Steven Pinker - 1994/2007 - Harper Perennial.
The Emperor's New Mind.Roger Penrose - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Minds, Brains, and Programs.John R. Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.

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