Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Strange Tools

Strange Tools

Art and Human Nature

Alva Noë

Hill and Wang


A philosopher makes the case for thinking of works of art as tools for investigating ourselves

In his new book, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, the philosopher and cognitive scientist Alva Noë raises a number of profound questions: What is art? Why do we value art as we do? What does art reveal about our nature? Drawing on philosophy, art history, and cognitive science, and making provocative use of examples from all three of these fields, Noë offers new answers to such questions. He also shows why recent efforts to frame questions about art in terms of neuroscience and evolutionary biology alone have been and will continue to be unsuccessful.


Getting Organized

Western art abounds with depictions of the nursing mother. The display of the Mother and Child is central to Christian religious thinking, so this isn't surprising. But it may be that pictures...

Praise for Strange Tools

“As a neurologist, confronted every day by questions of mind, self, consciousness, and their basis, I find Alva Noë's concepts both astounding and convincing.” —Oliver Sacks, Columbia University Medical Center on Alva Noë

“Organisms organize their interaction with their environments. Human beings can consciously organize and reorganize that interaction. Making, appreciating, and talking about art are among the ways that human beings do this, and are thus characteristic of human life itself. On these simple but undeniable truths, gleaned from a career in philosophy and a lifetime in the arts, Alva Noe builds a devastating critique of contemporary 'neuroaesthetics' and an illuminating account of the role of art in the human conversation. This is a work in the grand tradition of John Dewey's Art as Experience and one of the most important books in that tradition since Dewey's own.” —Paul Guyer, Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Brown University


Reviews from Goodreads

Alva Noë

Alva Noë is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. A graduate of Columbia College, he holds a BPhil from the University of Oxford and a PhD from Harvard University. The focus of his work in recent years has been on the nature of mind and human experience, with particular emphasis on perception and consciousness. In addition, he is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.

Alva Noë


Hill and Wang

Latest on Facebook