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

Felipe Fernández-Armesto

An extraordinary journey through the history of human imagination, from the dawn of civilisation to the present day

‘Immensely learned and ambitious…seam-bursting eclecticism and polymathic brio… This is by any standards a significant book and its author deserves high praise.'

Literary Review

To imagine - to see that which is not there - is the startling ability that has fuelled human development and innovation through the centuries. As a species we stand alone in our remarkable capacity to refashion the world after the pictures 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. Through groundbreaking insights in cognitive science, he explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalising glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish. Fernández-Armesto 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.


Felipe Fernández-Armesto is the editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of the World. Author of many critically acclaimed books, including the award-winning Pathfinders and Food: A History, he occupies the William P. Reynolds Chair in History at the University of Notre Dame.

Category:  Popular Science
ISBN:  9781786077851
Publisher:  Oneworld Publications
On sale:  August 2020
Format:  Paperback
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