An Anthropology of Puzzles argues that the human brain is a
"puzzling organ" which allows humans to literally solve their own
problems of existence through puzzle format. Noting the presence of
puzzles everywhere in everyday life, Marcel Danesi looks at puzzles
in society since the dawn of history, showing how their presence
has guided large sections of human history, from discoveries in
mathematics to disquisitions in philosophy. Danesi examines the
cognitive processes that are involved in puzzle making and solving,
and connects them to the actual physical manifestations of classic
puzzles. Building on a concept of puzzles as based on Jungian
archetypes, such as the river crossing image, the path metaphor,
and the journey, Danesi suggests this could be one way to
understand the public fascination with puzzles. As well as drawing
on underlying mental archetypes, the act of solving puzzles also
provides an outlet to move beyond biological evolution, and Danesi
shows that puzzles could be the product of the same basic neural
mechanism that produces language and culture. Finally, Danesi
explores how understanding puzzles can be a new way of
understanding our human culture.
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