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The Puzzle Instinct : The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life - Marcel Danesi

The Puzzle Instinct

The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life


Published: 15th April 2004
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"Humans are the only animals who create and solve puzzles -- for the sheer pleasure of it -- and there is no obvious genetic reason why we would do this. Marcel Danesi explores the psychology of puzzles and puzzling, with scores of classic examples. His pioneering book is both entertaining and enlightening." -- Will Shortz, Crossword Editor, The New York Times

..". Puzzle fanatics will enjoy the many riddles, illusions, cryptograms and other mind-benders offered for analysis." -- Psychology Today

..". a bristlingly clear... always intriguing survey of the history and rationale of puzzles.... A] splendid study...." -- Knight Ridder Newspapers

"Danesi, a professor of semiotics and anthropology (Univ. of Toronto), explores why puzzles, having arisen in earliest human history at the same time as mystery cults, are an intrinsic part of human life. Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor of the New York Times, has suggested enigmatology as the study of the relationship between puzzles and culture. This book, which explores the puzzle genres that have survived over the years, is a contribution to that rubric. After first asking the question Why puzzles? (and developing several possible answers, among which is that they provide comic relief from unanswerable larger questions), Danesi devotes chapters to each of several types of puzzle. These include language puzzles (e.g., riddles and anagrams); pictures (e.g., optical illusions and mazes); logic (e.g., deductions and paradoxes); numbers (e.g., mathematical recreations); and games (e.g., chess). A final chapter synopsizes the discussion. A detailed list of references is included, as are solutions to the specific puzzles posed. The book is well written, has no mathematical prerequisites, and is quite suitable for a general audience as well as lower- and upper-division undergraduates." -D. Robbins, Trinity College (CT), Choice, December 2002

Prefacep. ix
Why Puzzles?p. 1
Puzzle-Making through the Agesp. 3
Puzzle-Solving as Insight Thinkingp. 27
The Puzzle Instinctp. 35
Puzzling Language: Riddles, Anagrams, and Other Verbal Perplexitiesp. 37
Riddlesp. 38
Anagramsp. 46
Cryptogramsp. 53
Rebusesp. 59
Crosswordsp. 62
The Janus-Faced Nature of Languagep. 68
Puzzling Pictures: Optical Illusions, Mazes, and Other Visual Mind-Bogglersp. 71
Visual Trickeryp. 73
Geometrical Mind-Bogglersp. 83
Puzzles in Geometrical Dissection and Arrangementp. 91
Mazesp. 103
Order and Chaosp. 109
Puzzling Logic: Deductions, Paradoxes, and Other Forms of Mind Playp. 112
Deduction Puzzlesp. 116
Truth Puzzlesp. 125
Deception Puzzlesp. 133
Paradoxesp. 136
The Paradox of Logicp. 141
Puzzling Numbers: Magic Squares, Cryptarithms, and Other Mathematical Recreationsp. 143
Magic Squaresp. 147
Puzzling Mathematical Patternsp. 151
Algebraic Puzzlesp. 164
Cryptarithmsp. 167
Mathematics, Magic, and Puzzlesp. 175
Puzzling Games: Chess, Checkers, and Other Gamesp. 178
Movement and Arrangement Gamesp. 180
Mechanical and Assembly Gamesp. 190
Board Gamesp. 197
Card and Dice Gamesp. 203
The Game of Lifep. 206
The Puzzle of Lifep. 208
Puzzles and the Imaginationp. 209
Puzzles and Serendipityp. 219
Puzzles and the Aesthetics of Mindp. 226
Ahmes' Challengep. 231
Solutionsp. 236
Bibliography and General Reading Listp. 254
Indexp. 265
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780253217080
ISBN-10: 0253217083
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 15th April 2004
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.37