The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life

3.29 avg rating
( 28 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780253340948: The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

One of the most famous anagrams of all time was constructed in the Middle Ages. The unknown author contrived it as a Latin dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. Jesus’ answer to Pilate’s question "What is truth" is phrased as an ingenious anagram of the letters of that very question: Pilate: Quid est veritas? ("What is truth?") Jesus: Est virqui adest. ("It is the man before you.")

The origin of anagrams is shrouded in mystery. One thing is clear, however—in the ancient world, they were thought to contain hidden messages from the gods. Legend has it that even Alexander the Great (356–323 b.c.) believed in their prophetic power.
—from Chapter Two

The most obvious explanation for the popularity of puzzles is that they provide a form of constructive entertainment. But in The Puzzle Instinct Marcel Danesi contends that the fascination with puzzles throughout the ages suggests something much more profound. Puzzles serve a deeply embedded need in people to make sense of things. Emerging at the same time in human history as myth, magic, and the occult arts, the puzzle instinct, he claims, led to discoveries in mathematics and science, as well as revolutions in philosophical thought.

Puzzles fill an existential void by providing "small-scale experiences of the large-scale questions that Life poses. The puzzle instinct is, arguably, as intrinsic to human nature as is humor, language, art, music, and all the other creative faculties that distinguish humanity from all other species."

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Marcel Danesi is Professor of Semiotics and Anthropology at the University of Toronto and Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory. His books include Increase Your Puzzle IQ and Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things: An Introduction to Semiotics. He lives in Toronto.

Review:

"Danesi, a professor of semiotics and anthropology (Univ. of Toronto), explores why puzzles, having arisen in earliest human history at the same time as mystery cults, are an intrinsic part of human life. Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor of the New York Times, has suggested enigmatology as the study of the relationship between puzzles and culture. This book, which explores the puzzle genres that have survived over the years, is a contribution to that rubric. After first asking the question Why puzzles? (and developing several possible answers, among which is that they provide comic relief from unanswerable larger questions), Danesi devotes chapters to each of several types of puzzle. These include language puzzles (e.g., riddles and anagrams); pictures (e.g., optical illusions and mazes); logic (e.g., deductions and paradoxes); numbers (e.g., mathematical recreations); and games (e.g., chess). A final chapter synopsizes the discussion. A detailed list of references is included, as are solutions to the specific puzzles posed. The book is well written, has no mathematical prerequisites, and is quite suitable for a general audience as well as lower- and upper-division undergraduates." —D. Robbins, Trinity College (CT), Choice, December 2002

(D. Robbins, Trinity College (CT) Choice 2002-01-00)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780253217080: The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0253217083 ISBN 13:  9780253217080
Publisher: Indiana University Press, 2004
Softcover

9780253109194: The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life

Indian..., 2002
Hardcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Danesi, Marcel
Published by U.S.A.: Indiana University Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Mima Mia Books
(Boston, MA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description U.S.A.: Indiana University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition.. 9233 Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng. Seller Inventory # 1751D

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.50
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.00
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Danesi, Marcel
Published by Indiana University Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Old Oak Books
(Neustadt, ON, Canada)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Indiana University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Book is wrapped in plastic wrap.; 9 x 6 x 3/4 inches; 288 pages. Seller Inventory # 00760

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 25.42
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 6.00
From Canada to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Marcel Danesi
Published by Indiana University Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Indiana University Press, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0253340942

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 31.86
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Marcel Danesi
Published by Indiana University Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Indiana University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Text is Free of Markings. Seller Inventory # DADAX0253340942

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 42.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Danesi, Marcel
Published by Indiana University Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Indiana University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110253340942

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 48.97
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Danesi, Marcel
ISBN 10: 0253340942 ISBN 13: 9780253340948
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
SPHINX BOOKSTORE
(OTTAWA, ON, Canada)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. NEW. Seller Inventory # KENORA 030

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 174.74
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 16.00
From Canada to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds