Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel Dennett

Inutition Pumps

 

Summary
  1. Interesting book which offers dozens of “intuition pumps” – a way to think about an idea, problem, philosophy, etc. in a parallel way so that you can draw conclusions not directly thinking about your direct idea or problem. You can turn these intuition “knobs” and change the premise just slightly to see what you think if you change a small part of your idea and the following consequences
 
Key Takeaways
  1. Tools:
    1. Labels – warning labels
    2. Analogies
    3. Staging
    4. Intuition pumps – thought experiments. Carefully crafted persuasion tool
  2. Going meta – thinking about thinking, what philosophers do
  3. Make mistakes – become a connoisseur of your mistakes 
  4. Know history of philosophy as it has many valuable lessons and teachings about how to think and observe the world around you
  5. Algorithms are full proof
  6. Turing was one of the first to stipulate that the mind was like a computer. Took input and instructions and acted upon that. Brains take in info from sense organs and then act
  7. Original / intrinsic intentionality – our thoughts and beliefs mean what they mean independent of any outside forces or interpreters
  8. Wandering two bicester (intuition pump) – meaning is always relative to the context or function
  9. Reductio ad absurdem argument – showing something is true by proving that its denial leads to an absurd situation
  10. Our intentionality is derived from our genes. Our original raison d’etre is to preserve our genes but then we have become intelligent enough to also pursue other initiatives
  11. No substitute for intentional stance
  12. 2 ways intuition pumps may prove valuable – If intuition pump is well made, intuition pumps are reliable or intuition still seems dubious and helps you focus on what is wrong 
  13. Evolution is smarter than you are
  14. Skyhooks vs cranes – divine creator vs brute force of evolution and survival of the fittest
  15. Sorites Paradox – also known as a little by little argument – when does a bunch of individual grains of sand become a heap? No one grain can be said to create a heap and therefore no amount of wheat can make a heap. Paradox since from an apparently true premises one arrive at an apparently false conclusion
What I got out of it
  1. It was an interesting book and I never really thought or knew about intuition pumps and how many higher-level thinkers utilize them. It taught me some tools that you can use to come to conclusions by indirectly thinking and observing. Not my favorite book as it became quite technical and slow at times but still happy I read it.

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