Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It

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Univ of California Press, Jul 2, 2019 - History - 480 pages
To imagine—to see what is not there—is the startling ability that has fueled human development and innovation through the centuries. As a species we stand alone in our remarkable capacity to refashion the world after the picture in our minds.
 
Traversing the realms of science, politics, religion, culture, philosophy, and history, Felipe Fernández-Armesto reveals the thrilling and disquieting tales of our imaginative leaps—from the first Homo sapiens to the present day. Through groundbreaking insights in cognitive science, Fernández-Armesto explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalizing glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish. Unearthing and historical evidence, he begins by reconstructing the thoughts of our Paleolithic ancestors to reveal the subtlety and profundity of the thinking of early humans. A masterful paean to the human imagination from a wonderfully elegant thinker, Out of Our Minds shows that bad ideas are often more influential than good ones; that the oldest recoverable thoughts include some of the best; that ideas of Western origin often issued from exchanges with the wider world; and that the pace of innovative thinking is under threat. 
 

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Contents

The Mainspring of Ideas
1
Thinking Before Agriculture
33
Civilized Thinking
75
The First Named Thinkers
111
Ideas in a Religious Age
153
Exploration and Ideas
206
Political Thought
219
Redefining Humanity
231
Universal Rights
259
Truth and Science
265
Conservatisms and Liberalism
281
The Apostles of the State
290
Beyond and Against the State
297
Nationalism and Its American Variant
304
China Japan India and the Islamic World
313
Unstitching Certainty
331

The Idea of Europe
238
Economic Thought
246
Asian Influences and the Formulation of Rival Kinds of Despotism
253
The End of Ideas?
399
Index
453
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About the author (2019)

Felipe Fernández-Armesto is an award-winning historian and the author of several bestselling books, including 1492Ideas that Changed the World, and The Americas. He lives in Indiana and is a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame.

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