Intuition Pumps and Other Rules for Thinking, Daniel Dennett; Does it Matter? Alan Watts

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, By Daniel Dennett

Think of this book as a philosophical parallel to Dan Ariely’s, Predictably Irrational.

It’s a fun compendium of logical fallacies and examples of lazy thinking, along with a roadmap for more precise thinking.

Dennett is probably the biggest living name in US philosophy, and unlike most philosophers, he has an inimitable style that makes for easy reading. He’s a savant at describing philosophical problems in an accessible way.

He’s at his best when he’s discussing philosophy and logic. The book is more ponderous when he gets into AI and computers (not his strong suit).

Overall, great read.

Does It Matter? By Alan Watts

Thought I was going to love this book. Alan Watts is a favorite of Maria Popova of Brainpickings, and I usually find that my tastes are well aligned with hers. But I was underwhelmed by this collection of stories.

Alan Watts would have benefitted from reading Intuition Pumps by Dennett, because this book is chock-full of straw men and smug conclusions. Popova credits Watts with bringing Eastern philosophy into Western culture, but this book felt light weight. If you’re interested in Buddhist philosophy, I’d recommend Thich Nhat Hanh, Shunryu Suzuki, or Pema Chodron before reading this book.