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Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain

ISBN: 978-1-4443-3709-9
168 pages
March 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain (1444337092) cover image
This original and innovative book is an exploration of one of the key mysteries of the mind, the question of consciousness. Conducted through a one month course of both practical and entertaining ‘thought experiments’, these stimulating mind-games are used as a vehicle for investigating the complexities of the way the mind works.
  • By turns, fun, eye-opening and intriguing approach to thinking about thinking, which contains inventive and engaging ‘thought experiments’ for the general reader
  • Includes specially drawn illustrations by the French avant-garde artist, Judit
  • Reunites the social science disciplines of psychology, sociology and political theory with the traditional concerns of philosophy
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Acknowledgements.

Forward!

How To Use This Book.

Week 1: Influencing the Reptile Mind.

Day 1. Words.

Task: Spend all day trying only to think for yourself.

Day 2. Identifying the Reptile.

Task: Identify, and talk to, the reptile in your head.

Day 3. The Fallacy of the Lonely Fact.

Task:Try testing someone’s sense of randomness. Offer them a little bet.

Day 4. The Immortals.

Task: Write (or at least start) a book.

Day 5. My Three Favourite Animals.

Task: Complete an innocuouslooking survey about animals..

Day 6. The Prison of the Self.

Task: Attempt to escape ….

Day 7. Trappism.

Task: Don’t talk to anyone.

Week 2: Observing the Development of Little Minds.

Day 8. Dotty Experiments on Teddies.

Task: Get Piaget and Teddy to try to unconserve the numbers.

Day 9. (a.m.) The Cow in the Field-that-gets-built-on.

Task: Make a board game for children.

(p.m.) The Mountains of Egocentricity.

Task: Construct a device to measure egocentricity.

(evening) Behave Yourself!.

Task: Apply behaviourist principles to those around you.

Day 10. The Dissonance of the $1 Volunteers.

Task: Make the children (or employees, or partners) do some boring repetitive activities.

Day 11. Investigating Memory.

Task: Memory test: how many of the words can you remember?.

Day 12. Jargon for Dummies.

Task: Manage someone.

Day 13. Be Lucky!.

Task: Find out how unlucky you are.

Day 14. This Is Not a Self-help Book.

Task: Boil down a self-help book.

Week 3: Experiments in Practical Philosophy.

Day 15. The Upside-down Goggles.

Task: Make – and wear – some special goggles.

Day 16. Fire-walking and Cold Baths.

Task: Prepare a bed of red-hot coals or wood embers.

Day 17. R-pentomino.

Task: Make some of your very own microbes.

Day 18. (a.m.) Proprioception (Scratching Noses Test).

Task: Fool your senses into believing your nose is several feet long.

(p.m.) Hear the McGurk Effect.

Task: Fool your senses into hearing things that aren’t there ….

Day 19. (a.m) Go for a Long Walk on the Much Too Long Coastal Path.

Task: Measure it in centimetres.

(p.m.) Make a Bed of Nails.

Task: Lie on it overnight.

Day 20. Now Getting Really Rather Dangerous ….

Task: Look at something boring on the Internet.

Day 21. Doodle.

Task: Draw something.

Week 4: Miscellaneous Philosophical Investigations.

Day 22. (a.m.) Molyneux’s Problem.

Task: No more dangerous tasks. Pause to conceptualise.

(p.m.) Mary’s Room.

Test 3: Why is this one here?.

Day 23. Unable To See Change.

Task: Check who you are living with is the same person as yesterday.

Day 24. Cascade Theory.

Task: Chair (or rather rig) a discussion.

Day 25. Explain Yourself!.

Task: Try to predict your day.

Day 26. Investigating Un-Reason and Argument.

Task: Play on ambiguity.

Day 27. Subliminal Messages.

Task: Become aware of hidden messages all around you.

Day 28. (a.m.) The Power of Prayer.

Task: Pray a little.

(p.m.) Pray for Good Crops.

Task: Pray a little bit harder.

Day 29. The Horror and the Beauty. Or Vice Versa.

Task: Have a vision – or at least a dream.

Day 30. Strange Things.

Task: Conduct some telepathy.

Day 31. Manipulating Minds down on the Farm.

Task: Read between the lines ….

Debriefing.

Week 1: Influencing the Reptile Mind.

Day 1. Words.

Day 2. Identifying the Reptile.

Day 3. The Fallacy of the Lonely Fact.

Day 4. The Immortals.

Day 5. My Three Favourite Animals.

Day 6. The Prison of the Self.

Day 7. Trappism.

Week 2: Observing the Development of Little Minds.

Day 8. Dotty Experiments on Teddies.

Day 9. (a.m.) The Cow in the Field-that-gets-built-on.

(p.m.) The Mountains of Egocentricity.

(evening) Behave Yourself!.

Day 10. The Dissonance of the $1 Volunteers.

Day 11. Investigating Memory.

Day 12. Jargon for Dummies.

Day 13. Be Lucky!.

Day 14. This Is Not a Self-help Book.

Week 3: Experiments in Practical Philosophy

Day 15. The Upside-down Goggles.

Day 16. Fire-walking and Cold Baths.

Day 17. R-pentomino.

Day 18. (a.m.) Proprioception (Scratching Noses Test).

(p.m.) Hear the McGurk Effect.

Day 19. (a.m.) Go for a Long Walk on the Much Too Long Coastal Path.

(p.m.) Make a Bed of Nails.

Day 20. Now Getting Really Rather Dangerous ….

Day 21. Doodle.

Week 4: Miscellaneous Philosophical Investigations.

Day 22. (a.m.) Molyneux’s Problem.

(p.m.) Mary’s Room.

Day 23. Unable To See Change.

Day 24. Cascade Theory.

Day 25. Explain Yourself!.

Day 26. Investigating Un-Reason and Argument.

Day 27. Subliminal Messages.

Day 28. (a.m.) The Power of Prayer.

(p.m.) Pray for Good Crops.

Day 29. The Horror and the Beauty Or Vice Versa.

Day 30. Strange Things.

Day 31. Manipulating Minds down on the Farm.

Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading.

Index.

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Martin Cohen is editor of the Philosopher, and one of today’s best known authors specializing in popular books in philosophy, social science and politics. He has taught philosophy and social science at a number of universities in the UK and Australia. His unusual approach to the subject stems from his role in a key project at the University of Leeds in the 1980s to change the way Philosophy was traditionally taught in the UK, towards viewing it as an activity. His most recent books include Wittgenstein’s Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments (Blackwell, 2004), No Holiday: 80 Places You Don't Want to Visit (Disinformation Travel Guides) (2006), Philosophical Tales (Blackwell, 2008), and the UK edition of Philosophy for Dummies (2010).
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"A great book and well worth the self-indulgence, one day at a time." (Metapsychology, 27 December 2011)

"I would recommend its purchase for the general reader who is already interested in thinking, philosophy and is willing to invest time and thought into getting the most out of the book. For the more academic professional it may seem too light hearted." (Encephalitis Society, 1 April 2011)  

"The upshot is that readers of this book who already have a philosophical bent will enjoy engaging with it at a discursive level while the more general reader will gain a deeper sense of the diversity and quirkiness, the subtleties and complexities, of that infinite inner world which is the mind." (Suite101.com, November 2010)

"Cohen is an author who specialises in popular books on philosophy, social science and politics and, essentially, this new one is an introduction to thinking about thinking. It blends psychological and social studies with philosophical theory for the first time, eschewing technical jargon and using easily understood scenarios to demonstrate the theme." (www.mysteriousplanet.net, November 2010)

"This book is very much in that vein of bringing philosophy to the masses and encouraging people to think." (The Bookbag, November 2010)

"Readers of this book who already have a philosophical bent will enjoy engaging with it at a discursive level while the more general reader will gain a deeper sense of the diversity and quirkiness, the subtleties and complexities, of that infinite inner world which is the mind." (www.suite101.com, November 2010)

"Instead of just telling readers what it is to use one's brain, Cohen uses a range of witty and imaginative ploys to get them to think actively and independently."
George MacDonald Ross, University of Leeds

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March 01, 2011
Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain

The question of consciousness is a key mystery of the mind, and one of the primary mystifying ideas in the study of philosophy. Science can explain everything else, but the strange sense of self-awareness– it can only dismiss as an illusion. Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain (March 2011 U.S.) is a collection of practical and entertaining thought experiments that while stimulating the mind, can also be used as a vehicle for investigating the complexities of thought, feeling, and awareness.

These are not Sudoku puzzles or games that explore the functions and behaviors of the brain in the scientific sense, nor are they abstract philosophical games that test the application of logic to imaginary scenarios. Rather, Cohen uses these fun, eye-opening, and inventive experiments to ask the reader to personally investigate the way that their mind and the minds around them actually work, the way in which the mind deals with things that do and do not exist, that do and do not make sense, and with things that cannot be explained. Readers will come away with a sense of possibility and knowledge of the variety of colorful and complex idiosyncrasies of the human mind.

Martin Cohen, “Some people think they can project thoughts instantaneously across distances, cause departed souls to re-materialise, and, of course, pass messages directly to the Creator. Yet if serious philosophers have been loath to countenance such irrationality, that’s no reason to pass up an opportunity for some alternative thought experiments here. For philosophy should be open to all questions and answers, not just those that fit the narrow fashions of the times. It turns out that the way you think, and the way I think, are not quite as individual as “I think, therefore I am” implies. The human mind is created and renewed at every moment collectively, and no one of us, as Socrates’ prisoner finds out after fleeing the cave, can pierce the veil of convention by introspection alone.”

In Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain Cohen playfully reunites the more serious questions of consciousness found within the fields of psychology, sociology, political theory, and traditional philosophy. The book includes specially drawn illustrations by the French avant-garde artist, Judit.

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