How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now

How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now

How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now

How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now

Synopsis

Noted evolutionary biologist and author William Calvin has written a fascinating and far-reaching look at the forces that created human intelligence. Calvin demonstrates that our intelligent mental life is a constantly shifting accommodation to stimuli from within us and from our environment.

Excerpt

It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.

SÖREN kierkegaard, 1843

All organisms with complex nervous systems are faced with the moment-by-moment question that is posed by life: What shall I do next?

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin, 1994

Piaget used to say that intelligence is what you use when you don't know what to do (an apt description of my present predicament as I attempt to write about intelligence). If you're good at finding the one right answer to life's multiple-choice questions, you're smart. But there's more to being intelligent-- a creative aspect, whereby you invent something new "on the fly." Indeed, various answers occur to your brain, some better than others.

Every time we contemplate the leftovers in the refrigerator, trying to figure out what else needs to be fetched from the grocery store before fixing dinner, we're exercising an aspect of intelligence not seen in even the smartest ape. the best chefs surprise us with interesting combinations of ingredients . . .

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