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The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters

by Daniel M. Wegner

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732293,937 (3.83)None
"From dogs to gods, the science of understanding mysterious minds--including your own. Nothing seems more real than the minds of other people. When you consider what your boss is thinking or whether your spouse is happy, you are admitting them into the "mind club." It's easy to assume other humans can think and feel, but what about a cow, a computer, a corporation? What kinds of mind do they have? Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray are award-winning psychologists who have discovered that minds--while incredibly important--are a matter of perception. Their research opens a trove of new findings, with insights into human behavior that are fascinating, frightening and funny. The Mind Club explains why we love some animals and eat others, why people debate the existence of God so intensely, how good people can be so cruel, and why robots make such poor lovers. By investigating the mind perception of extraordinary targets--animals, machines, comatose people, god--Wegner and Gray explain what it means to have a mind, and why it matters so much. Fusing cutting-edge research and personal anecdotes, The Mind Club explores the moral dimensions of mind perception with wit and compassion, revealing the surprisingly simple basis for what compels us to love and hate, to harm and to protect"--… (more)
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An interesting book that invited me to consider a new perspective on consciousness, though it'd didn't quite reach the depth I'd expected.
  LaPhenix | Mar 22, 2017 |
How do you know that your friends and family aren't mindless zombies? Does your cat love you like you love it? Does God ever get hungry?

This book won't answer those questions but it will make you think outside of the box and ask even more questions which in my opinion is awesome. The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray was a fun ride. These two psychologists look at what makes up a 'mind' and who should be entered into the mind club (e.g. plants wouldn't be included). In the opening chapter, there was a little chart which represented how mind is measured by agency (mental abilities such as self-control, morality, communication, etc) and experience (capacity to feel hunger, pain, desire, pride, etc). I had never looked at the world in this kind of framework before and it was fascinating to see that God has a lot of agency (He is seen as all powerful and knowing) but no experience (God doesn't crave a cheeseburger or a nap). This had never occurred to me before but now it seems obvious that humans consider God to be a member of the mind club but he is not a full member like we are because he has no experience. Each chapter investigates a different mind to see if they warrant entry into the mind club. The chapters cover such topics as animals, the silent (those in vegetative states or locked-in), the dead (yes, dead people), robots (THE SINGULARITY IS NIGH), and at the very end of the book the self (that's us). The book was chock full of data from studies conducted by those that the authors worked with as well as from other academic sources. I liked this because it shows that they weren't just theorizing without anything to back them up. However, if you're going into this looking for concrete answers about what makes up the 'mind' then you're barking up the wrong book. Much like philosophy, the book reads like a thought experiment where many things are posed but nothing has a definitive answer. And that's fine! The book was fun and fascinating. I'm definitely going to comb through the Notes to get some more book recommendations (my one complaint was that the Notes weren't more expansive...it's just a standard bibliography where I'm accustomed to annotations). If you like thought experiments and/or you're interested in the psychology of the mind then this book is right up your alley. XD
  AliceaP | Apr 29, 2016 |
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"From dogs to gods, the science of understanding mysterious minds--including your own. Nothing seems more real than the minds of other people. When you consider what your boss is thinking or whether your spouse is happy, you are admitting them into the "mind club." It's easy to assume other humans can think and feel, but what about a cow, a computer, a corporation? What kinds of mind do they have? Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray are award-winning psychologists who have discovered that minds--while incredibly important--are a matter of perception. Their research opens a trove of new findings, with insights into human behavior that are fascinating, frightening and funny. The Mind Club explains why we love some animals and eat others, why people debate the existence of God so intensely, how good people can be so cruel, and why robots make such poor lovers. By investigating the mind perception of extraordinary targets--animals, machines, comatose people, god--Wegner and Gray explain what it means to have a mind, and why it matters so much. Fusing cutting-edge research and personal anecdotes, The Mind Club explores the moral dimensions of mind perception with wit and compassion, revealing the surprisingly simple basis for what compels us to love and hate, to harm and to protect"--

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