cover image Kinds of Minds

Kinds of Minds

Daniel C. Dennett. Basic Books, $20 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-465-07350-4

Dennett (Darwin's Dangerous Idea), director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, avers that language is the ""slingshot"" that has ""launched [humans] far beyond all other earthly species in the power to look ahead and reflect."" In this brief study, some of which is drawn from notes for the author's various lectures, and which returns him to some of the themes of his controversial bestseller, Consciousness Explained (1991), he explores how the human mind came into existence. Along the way, he investigates such questions as, How does the mind work? Can we know another's mind? Can a woman know what it's like to be a man (and vice versa)? What are nonhuman minds like? Could a robot ever be ""conscious""? Philosopher that he is, Dennett continually raises and refines his questions about these and other subjects, attempting to tease us closer to understanding. By the end of the book, he confesses, he has not so much presented answers as found better questions to ask. Though some readers may be put off by Dennett's cocksure tone, others will be rewarded by his witty, intelligible speculation. (July)