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Bar-Giora Goldberg
Humanity is on a path of rising cognition. The tedious Darwinian process has given way to a fast and directed cognitive evolution, driving our politics, economy, technology, sciences and arts. Consequently, the world becomes increasingly our idea. Our sciences, arts, politics and other means of expression steadily become more abstract, more complex. One hopes for deeper understanding, increased humanity and better use of our natural resources and treatment of mother earth. Technology is giving us tools and challenging us to change. But the new and more cognitive world is also confusing, sometimes frustrating and changing very fast. Too many of us feel displaced, even lost. Better understanding is the key to regaining our footing and better adjustment in a world of constant flow. As to History, it must be constantly rewritten anew. The Life phenomena, which seems to many to border on the miraculous, eventually created Language, Cognitive thinking and Artistic & Emotional expressions of untold richness. Is it possible to ignore the evident continuous, relentless drive for the centrality of cognition and higher complexity? This required a whole new world-view and concepts of life, living and purpose. The Darwinian physical component of our evolution started to diminish in comparison to the cognitive element that took center stage. The Mind is Mightier is about this viewpoint of history. It attempts to describe the various historical elements of our cognitive evolution in the great variety of life’s activities: social order, art, science, music, technology, religion, world-order, law and self-evaluation. It attempts to demonstrate the tendency for increased complexity in all the above as we continuously chart new directions and purpose for humanity’s future.
Goldberg’s analysis of humanity’s cognitive evolution reframes our past and re-envisions our future. He argues that humanity’s rapid acceleration of “cognition,” or the ability to generate and communicate abstract thoughts, has allowed us to transcend the Darwinian endgame of mere physical survival and instead live in “the age of Idea, Data and Cognition.” Because abstract thinking is now the primary mode of our existence, we each inhabit the “Cognitive-Cloud,” Goldberg’s term for the “mental universe” composed of our own ideas and beliefs that mediates our relationship with reality. Goldberg goes on to argue that the Cognitive-Cloud’s growing power has increased the complexity of nearly every aspect of human life, including government, economics, religion, and the arts.

While he celebrates the generative possibilities of the Cognitive-Cloud, Goldberg also warns that “much of what we do and imagine is the invention of our mind” and notes the dangers of not recognizing that we can be “prisoners” of our clouds. He embraces the complexity of his subject, and there’s much that’s fascinating and challenging in his abundant details and wide survey of topics. The material can also overwhelm, though, and some readers will struggle to synthesize all the information and connect it to Goldberg’s ideas on cognition and complexity. In addition to his broad scope, Goldberg’s writing style amplifies the intricacy of his subject, as he shifts topics quickly and frequently circles back to previous points. Some readers will revel in the kaleidoscope of facts that he presents, while others will wish for a more focused discussion.

Goldberg presents a steady stream of intriguing facts and thought-provoking quotations. His analysis of the Cognitive-Cloud’s impact on frontiers like Artificial Intelligence, cryptocurrency, and climate change offers a fascinating peek at our future. Readers who are up for the challenge will be rewarded by this exciting and in-depth examination of our species’ past and its potential.

Takeaway: Goldberg’s wide-ranging commentary on humanity’s next steps offers abundant food for thought for the intellectually curious.

Great for fans of: Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B-
Illustrations: B+
Editing: C
Marketing copy: B