The Meaning of Thought
The Meaning of Thought
Translated by Alex Englander
From populist propaganda attacking knowledge as ‘fake news’ to the latest advances in artificial intelligence, human thought is under unprecedented attack today. If computers can do what humans can do and they can do it much faster, what’s so special about human thought? 

In this new book, bestselling philosopher Markus Gabriel steps back from the polemics to re-examine the very nature of human thought. He conceives of human thinking as a ‘sixth sense’, a kind of sense organ that is closely tied our biological reality as human beings. Our thinking is not a form of data processing but rather the linking together of images and imaginary ideas which we process in different sensory modalities. Our time frame expands far beyond the present moment, as our ideas and beliefs stretch far beyond the here and now. We are living beings and the whole of evolution is built into our life story. In contrast to some of the exaggerated claims made by proponents of AI, Gabriel argues that our thinking is a complex structure and organic process that is not easily replicated and very far from being superseded by computers. 

With his usual wit and intellectual verve, Gabriel combines philosophical insight with pop culture to set out a bold defence of the human and a plea for an enlightened humanism for the 21st century. This timely book will be of great value to anyone interested in the nature of human thought and the relations between human beings and machines in an age of rapid technological change.
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  • January 2021
  • 256 pages
  • 155 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $35.00
  • 9781509538362
  • Open eBook $16.99
  • 9781509538379
About the Author
Markus Gabriel holds the chair for Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Bonn and is also the Director of the International Center for Philosophy in Bonn.
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“Markus Gabriel is that rare beast, a serious academic philosopher with the wit and talent to write for non-academic audiences – the German equivalent of Simon Blackburn. This engaging book displays his characteristic insight, in the service of pluralistic metaphysics and inclusive humanism. It's an attractive mix.”
Huw Price, University of Cambridge

“One of the youngest protagonists on the global intellectual stage, Markus Gabriel has designed the architecture of a "New Realism" that inspires specialists and readers alike yearning for an intellectual challenge. Conceiving of philosophy as a theory of thought, he shows how understanding our relationship to the world begins with abandoning the premise that we could ever be separated from it. Doing philosophy along the movements of Gabriel's text thus turns into a pleasurable fulfilment of human existence.”
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guérard Professor in Literature, Emeritus, Stanford University

“Markus Gabriel is an important and critical voice in the discourse about artificial intelligence, data and technology. He criticizes today’s AI mythologies from a fundamentally humanistic perspective about the nature of thought itself. This book will help you navigate the inevitable digitization of individuals and societies.”
Andreas Weigend, PhD; global expert on data and privacy, author of Data for the People, former chief scientist at Amazon and advisor to Angela Merkel.

The Meaning of Thought is a tour de force, combining a critique of naturalistic metaphysics with a diagnosis of our failure to understand ourselves and our place – our immersion – in reality. Markus Gabriel moves with ease from the history of philosophy to popular culture and the theory and culture of artificial intelligence. His New Realism, which countenances a multitude of realities, nevertheless allows him to expose current enthusiasm for the very idea of computer intelligence as a superstition symptomatic of the dangerous unreflectiveness of modern thought.”
Taylor Carman, Chair, Dept of Philosophy, Barnard College

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