Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? In their ground-breaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma.
Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs and decisions on our own. What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications and arguments that others address to us. The Enigma of Reason will spark debate among psychologists and philosophers, and make many reasonable people rethink their own thinking.
About the Author
Hugo Mercier is a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, working in the Cognitive Science Institute Marc Jeannerod in Lyon. Dan Sperber is a researcher in the departments of Cognitive Science and of Philosophy at the Central European University, Budapest, and in the Institut Jean Nicod at the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris.
'Filled with lively stories and vivid examples (involving ants, monsters, mosquitoes and dust bunnies, as well as paltry humans) ... its central thesis is sharp and convincing ... the argumentative theory of reason makes sense of human irrationality. * Times Literary Supplement *
Elegant and compelling ... Mercier and Sperber delight in turning conventional wisdom on its head ... A timely and necessary book * Financial Times *
Timely ... an antidote to the dual-process models behind Kahneman's famous Thinking, Fast and Slow. We need a faith in reason, and this book provides strong arguments that such faith is reasonable * Times Higher Education *
Reason is more likely to confirm things that we want to be true, or which we already believe. So why does it exist? This new book provides the answer * Prospect *