We humans never much liked competition from other creatures and history tells us that this was how we overcame all our natural predators through weaponry or guile in the eons past. Natural selection could not have been the only answer.This book is one that shook me out of cerebral complacency and like a good author, Sagan opens the cobweb laden windows of my brain and lets the light in. This is a book length introspection into the nature of human intellect. The aspect of the Triune brain and the R-complex's involvement in human behavior is what Sagan calls the Dragons chained away in the dungeons of our minds.
One of the most beautiful things I've ever read came from this book: "If the human brain had only one synapse-- corresponding to a monumental stupidity-- we would be capable of only two mental states.
The writing is good, the ideas sound, and the subject is still obviously open today. It's like the line from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where Prosser still thinks that digital watches are a good idea. Not everything was dated. Not everything was dated.
I'd read this book a few years ago, and loved it.
Some info that made me love this book: -> how much info do our genes carry -> evolution of human brain -> various components of human brain -> right and left hemisphere of brains -> what exactly is intuitiveness -> why do humans and other mammals sleep -> difference between dream sleep and dreamless sleep -> REM sleep -> what do our dreams mean -> why do some people sleep for longer time while some sleep for lesser time -> extraterrestrial intelligence -> what causes some of the mental illnesses -> why animals cannot talk -> Reptiles vs Mammals Pulitzer Prize Winner
Anyone interested in human evolution will find this book exciting. The meaning of the evolution of extra-genetic intelligence (brains in animals and humans) and extra-somatic intelligence (writing, books, computers) in humans, the nature of instincts buried in our older "reptilian brain" regions, the conflict between the left and right neocortex and the purpose of each, this is exciting stuff that we can all see at work in our lives, giving evolution an extra layer of reality. A more recent book, "Up from Dragons: The Evolution of Human Intelligence (2002)" coauthor by Sagan and John Skoyles actualizes the concepts and hypotheses first presented in Dragons of Eden.
He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. Ann Druyan, in the epilogue to Sagan's last book, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (published posthumously in 1997), gives a moving account of Carl's last days: "Contrary to the fantasies of the fundamentalists, there was no deathbed conversion, no last minute refuge taken in a comforting vision of a heaven or an afterlife. He was also a recipient of the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences. In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his "research transformed planetary science his gifts to mankind were infinite." D.