100 books like The Origin of Concepts

By Susan Carey,

Here are 100 books that The Origin of Concepts fans have personally recommended if you like The Origin of Concepts. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

Science has revolutionized the way we live and the way we understand reality, but what accounts for its success? What method sets science apart from other forms of inquiry and ensures that it yields ever-more accurate theories of the world? Strevens argues that the scientific method is not a special kind of logic, like deriving hypotheses from first principles or narrowing hypotheses through falsification, but a simple commitment to arguing with evidence. Strevens shows, with historical case studies, how this commitment is seemingly irrational, as it provides no constraints on what counts as evidence or how evidence should be interpreted, but also incredibly powerful, fostering ingenuity and discovery.

By Michael Strevens,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Knowledge Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Why is science so powerful?
* Why did it take so long-two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics-for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe?

In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument.

Like such classic works as Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of…


Book cover of The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind

Sanjay Sarma Author Of Grasp: The Science Transforming How We Learn

From my list on helping us reimagine what education could be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm passionate about understanding and fixing how we teach and learn for a simple reason: My own journey as a learner was very nearly cut short. While attending one of the most competitive universities in India, I witnessed firsthand what can happen when a once-promising student runs into learning roadblocks. I nearly gave up on my academic career, only to be saved by—of all things—a hands-on, corporate training program. As I moved back into academia, it became my goal, first as an educator and later as MIT’s Vice President for Open Learning, to empower how we teach and learn with findings from cutting-edge research. And to avail these possibilities to as many learners as possible. 

Sanjay's book list on helping us reimagine what education could be

Sanjay Sarma Why did Sanjay love this book?

It’s impossible, as a parent, not to marvel at the miracle of learning that occurs in very young children. Indeed, parents have experienced this sense of awe for time immemorial, and some have gone so far as to venture explanations for how it works. John Dewey, the American philosopher and psychologist, argued at the dawn of the twentieth century that children are like young scientists as they go about their day, subtly testing the things and people around them to see how they work. We now know, in no small part due to the work of researchers including The Scientist in the Crib author Alison Gopnik, that Dewey was right. Children are compelled to experiment; what’s more, they make the most of the limited data they produce with a powerful logic invisible to the untrained eye. Parents—but also anyone with a sense of wonder—will find answers to deep mysteries in…

By Andrew N. Meltzoff, Alison Gopnik, Patricia K. Kuhl

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scientist in the Crib as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exciting book by three pioneers in the new field of cognitive science discusses important discoveries about how much babies and young children know and learn, and how much parents naturally teach them. It argues that evolution designed us both to teach and learn, and that the drive to learn is our most important instinct. It also reveals as fascinating insights about our adult capacities and how even young children -- as well as adults -- use some of the same methods that allow scientists to learn so much about the world. Filled with surprise at every turn, this vivid,…


Book cover of Education for Thinking

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

Two skills fundamental to scientific reasoning are inquiry and argument. Inquiry is generating new information, and argument is using that information to justify and evaluate knowledge claims. Kuhn presents a framework for understanding these processes, as well as methods for teaching them. Her insights are grounded in science-education research demonstrating not only why inquiry and argument are challenging but also how they can be improved. Kuhn’s book fundamentally changed how I teach science to others. It provided me a way of organizing and motivating the various research methods I cover in my courses, as tools for building a collective body of knowledge.

By Deanna Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Education for Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What do we want schools to accomplish? The only defensible answer, Deanna Kuhn argues, is that they should teach students to use their minds well, in school and beyond.

Bringing insights from research in developmental psychology to pedagogy, Kuhn maintains that inquiry and argument should be at the center of a "thinking curriculum"-a curriculum that makes sense to students as well as to teachers and develops the skills and values needed for lifelong learning. We have only a brief window of opportunity in children's lives to gain (or lose) their trust that the things we ask them to do in…


Book cover of Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do about It

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

If you value science, then you’ve probably puzzled over why other people don’t. Why won’t other people wear masks during a pandemic? Or buy genetically modified foods? Or vaccinate their children. Sinatra and Hofer provide answers by delving deep into the psychology of science denial. They explain the shortcuts we take when searching for scientific information, the misconceptions we hold about scientific knowledge, and the obstacles we face when changing our beliefs and attitudes about scientific topics. From their synthesis of empirical research to their consideration of real-life dilemmas, Sinatra and Hofer provide a compelling account of the public’s fraught relationship with science, as well as practical advice for improving it.

By Barbara Hofer, Gale Sinatra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Science Denial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do individuals decide whether to accept human causes of climate change, vaccinate their children against childhood diseases, or practice social distancing during a pandemic? Democracies depend on educated citizens who can make informed decisions for the benefit of their health and well-being, as well as their communities, nations, and planet. Understanding key psychological explanations for science denial and doubt can help provide a means for improving
scientific literacy and understanding-critically important at a time when denial has become deadly. In Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It, the authors identify the problem and why it…


Book cover of What Is Mathematics, Really?

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

Reuben Hersh is responsible for a revolution in the way we look at mathematics. His main idea is very simple: mathematics is something that is created by human beings. Isn’t that obvious, you say? Not if you believe that mathematics is there even before life itself, that it is built into the nature of reality in some way. In philosophy, this view is called Platonism. Hersh had the radical but obvious idea that if we want to understand what mathematics is we should look at what mathematicians actually do when they create mathematics. Like all great ideas it can be stated very simply but the implications are enormous.  His ideas are what got me started writing my own books about math and science.

By Reuben Hersh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Mathematics, Really? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tackles the important questions which have engaged mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers for thousands of years and which are still being asked today. It does so with clarity and with scholarship born of first-hand experience; a knowledge both of the ideas and of the people who have pronounced on them. The main purpose of the book is to confront philosophical problems: In what sense do mathematical objects exist? How can we have knowledge of them? Why do mathematicians think mathematical entities exist for ever, independent of human action and knowledge? The book proposes an unconventional answer: mathematics has existence…


Book cover of Proofs and Refutations

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

Lots of people have a priori ideas about what mathematics is all about but Lakatos had the brilliant idea of looking at what actually happened. His book is all about one famous theorem: “for all regular polyhedra, V – E + F =2, where V is the number of vertices, E is the number of edges, and F is the number of faces.  Think of a cube where V=8, E = 12, F = 6.  

We tend to think that mathematics proceeds from a well-defined hypothesis to conclusion. But that is only the finishing step. Along the way the definitions keep changing as do the hypotheses and even the conclusion. Everything is moving! This is what makes doing mathematics so exciting!

By Imre Lakatos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Proofs and Refutations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imre Lakatos's Proofs and Refutations is an enduring classic, which has never lost its relevance. Taking the form of a dialogue between a teacher and some students, the book considers various solutions to mathematical problems and, in the process, raises important questions about the nature of mathematical discovery and methodology. Lakatos shows that mathematics grows through a process of improvement by attempts at proofs and critiques of these attempts, and his work continues to inspire mathematicians and philosophers aspiring to develop a philosophy of mathematics that accounts for both the static and the dynamic complexity of mathematical practice. With a…


Book cover of The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us about Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

This is another book about the new research into how babies think. I am excited about this research because of its implications for how people learn mathematics and how researchers create math. This book taught me something important about how we all think. Gopnik distinguishes between what she calls flashlight consciousness and lantern consciousness. Flashlight is the way adults think. You focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention. But babies, she claims, use their minds differently. Their lantern consciousness is unfocused and is aware of the big picture all at once.  

So what happens to lantern consciousness when you grow up? The answer is that creative individuals use it and alternate between lantern and flashlight consciousness. When we are creating or learning something new, we have to drop back to lantern consciousness. Logic comes from flashlight consciousness and, by itself, will never produce anything…

By Alison Gopnik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Philosophical Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the last decade there has been a revolution in our understanding of the minds of infants and young children. We used to believe that babies were irrational, and that their thinking and experience were limited. Now Alison Gopnik ― a leading psychologist and philosopher, as well as a mother ― explains the cutting-edge scientific and psychological research that has revealed that babies learn more, create more, care more, and experience more than we could ever have imagined. And there is good reason to believe that babies are actually smarter, more thoughtful, and more conscious than adults. In a lively…


Book cover of The Palliative Society: Pain Today

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

It’s a little weird that this book should find a place on my list. It’s a book about how society has become resistant to anything that is difficult and painful and the kinds of people that we have become as a result. But mathematics is difficult! To understand mathematics you have to think hard, sometimes for a long time. Moreover understanding something hard is discontinuous, it requires a leap to a new way of thinking. You have to start with a problem and this problem might be an ambiguity or a contradiction. A is true and B is true but A and B seem to contradict one another. When you sort out this problem you will have learned something.

The moral here is to embrace things that are difficult if you want to learn significant new things. “No pain, no gain.” You don’t have to worry about some super AI…

By Byung-Chul Han, Daniel Steuer (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Palliative Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our societies today are characterized by a universal algophobia: a generalized fear of pain. We strive to avoid all painful conditions - even the pain of love is treated as suspect. This algophobia extends into society: less and less space is given to conflicts and controversies that might prompt painful discussions. It takes hold of politics too: politics becomes a palliative politics that is incapable of implementing radical reforms that might be painful, so all we get is more of the same.

Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, the palliative society is transformed into a society of survival. The virus enters…


Book cover of Metaphor Wars: Conceptual Metaphors in Human Life

Paul Thagard Author Of Balance: How It Works and What It Means

From my list on metaphor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in metaphor and analogy as a graduate student in philosophy of science in the 1970s. Important scientific ideas such as natural selection and the wave theories of sound and light were built from metaphors and made to work by analogical thinking. In the 1980s, I started building computational models of analogy. So when I got interested in balance because of a case of vertigo in 2016, I naturally noticed the abundance of balance metaphors operating in science and everyday life. Once the pandemic hit, I was struck by the prevalence of the powerful metaphor of making public health decisions while balancing lives and livelihoods. 

Paul's book list on metaphor

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

Raymond Gibbs is a leading psycholinguist with deep familiarity with theories of conceptual metaphor and their critics. Drawing on evidence from cognitive linguistics and other fields, this book provides a valuable account of the contributions of metaphor to language, thought, action, and culture. Metaphors operate in multimodal experience s well as language. 

By Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Metaphor Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The study of metaphor is now firmly established as a central topic within cognitive science and the humanities. We marvel at the creative dexterity of gifted speakers and writers for their special talents in both thinking about certain ideas in new ways, and communicating these thoughts in vivid, poetic forms. Yet metaphors may not only be special communicative devices, but a fundamental part of everyday cognition in the form of 'conceptual metaphors'. An enormous body of empirical evidence from cognitive linguistics and related disciplines has emerged detailing how conceptual metaphors underlie significant aspects of language, thought, cultural and expressive action.…


Book cover of Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide

Lara Alcock Author Of How to Study as a Mathematics Major

From my list on studying undergraduate mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Reader in the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University in the UK. I have always loved mathematics and, when I became a PhD student and started teaching, I realized that how people think about mathematics is fascinating too. I am particularly interested in demystifying the transition to proof-based undergraduate mathematics. I believe that much of effective learning is not about inherent genius but about understanding how theoretical mathematics works and what research tells us about good study strategies. That is what these books, collectively, are about.

Lara's book list on studying undergraduate mathematics

Lara Alcock Why did Lara love this book?

Research in cognitive psychology has revealed a lot about human learning and how to make it more effective. Most mathematics students – and indeed their professors – know very little about this research or how to apply it. Weinstein and Sumeracki’s book explains how psychologists generate evidence on learning, gives a basic account of human cognitive processing, explains some strategies for effective learning, and gives tips for applying them. It is not about mathematics and it certainly will not make advanced mathematics simple, but I think that we would all have an easier time if we were more aware of some common misunderstandings about learning and effective ways to improve it.  

By Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, Oliver Caviglioli

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding How We Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Educational practice does not, for the most part, rely on research findings. Instead, there's a preference for relying on our intuitions about what's best for learning. But relying on intuition may be a bad idea for teachers and learners alike.

This accessible guide helps teachers to integrate effective, research-backed strategies for learning into their classroom practice. The book explores exactly what constitutes good evidence for effective learning and teaching strategies, how to make evidence-based judgments instead of relying on intuition, and how to apply findings from cognitive psychology directly to the classroom.

Including real-life examples and case studies, FAQs, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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