(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
The British psychologist Richard Gregory starts out with an account of how, in ancient civilizations, gradually myth became philosophy and science.
The original contribution of the book is Gregory's theory of tools, although this represents only one chapter (the second) of this very thick book. Gregory claims that "tools are extensions of the limbs, the senses and mind." The fundamental difference between humans and apes is not in the (very small) anatomical differences but in language and tools. Man is both a tool-user and a tool-maker. Gregory shows that there are "hand" tools (such as level, pick, axe, wheel, etc) and "mind" tools, which help measuring, calculating and thinking (such as language, writing, counting, computers, clocks).
Chapter 10 returns, in passing, to the issue when discussing intelligence. Gregory qualifies information as "potential intelligence" and behavior as "kinetic intelligence". Tools increase intelligence as they enable a new class of behavior. A tool "confers" intelligence to a user, meaning that turns some potential intelligence into kinetic intelligence. A person with a tool is a person with a potential intelligence to perform an action that without the tool would not be possible (or much more difficult). Behavior is often just using that tool to perform that action. It appears that intelligence is in your action, but, actually, intelligence is in the tool, not in your action. Or, better, they are two different types of intelligence. And words are just one particular type of tool.
But this is only a chapter in the book. The rest of the book is mainly devoted to succint biographies and summaries of the work of notable thinkers of the 20th century. The whole is an immense survey of logic, neurophysiology, cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind. Gregory takes the reader on a long journey, from ancient mythotology to the birth of philosophy to modern science to logic to the study of the brain and the mind.