A New Theory of Human Understanding

RSA Event

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Durham Street Auditorium, RSA House

  • Behaviour change
  • Social brain
  • Philosophy

Many of us believe our capacity to reason helps us to acquire knowledge and make better decisions - but what if it has an entirely different purpose?

Cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier and his colleague Dan Sperber have made waves with the surprising results of years of research – that our power to reason has nothing to do with accuracy or truth-seeking. Mercier visits the RSA to present their astounding thesis: that the essential function of reason is not solitary but social - it exists to help us convince other people or groups of our arguments.

Understanding reason in this way explains why we are so often biased in favour of what we already believe, why reason may lead to terrible ideas and yet is indispensable to spreading good ones, and forces us to rethink how we make decisions across all areas of modern life.

 

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