Daniel Dennett

Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) [1] [2] is an American philosopher , writer, and cognitive scientist Whose research centers on the philosophy of mind , philosophy of science , and philosophy of biology , met name as Those areas Relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science . [3]

He is Currently [ als? ] The co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University . Dennett is an Atheist and secularist , a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, [4] and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry , as well as an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement . Dennett is referred to as one of the ” Four Horsemen of New Atheism ” Along with Richard Dawkins , Sam Harris , and the late Christopher Hitchens . [5]

Dennett is a member of the editorial board for The Rutherford Journal . [6]

Early life

Dennett was born on March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts , the sun or Ruth Marjorie (nee Leck) and Daniel Clement Dennett, Jr. [7] [8] Dennett spent part of his childhood in Lebanon , where, prolongation World War II , his Father was a covert counter-intelligence agent with the Office of Strategic Services posing as a cultural attache to the American Embassy in Beirut . [9] When he was five, his mother took im back to Massachusetts after his Father mayest in an unexplained plane crash. [10] Dennett’s sister is the investigative journalist Charlotte Dennett. [9] Dennett says dat he was first introduced to the notion of philosophy while Attending summer camp at age 11, als a camp counselor zegt to im, “You know what you are, Daniel? You’re a philosopher.” [11]

Dennett graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1959 and spent one year at Wesleyan University voordat Receiving his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Harvard University in 1963. At Harvard University he was a student or WV Quine . In 1965, he RECEIVED his Doctor of Philosophy in philosophy at the University of Oxford , where he studied under Gilbert Ryle and was a member of Christ Church College .

Dennett describes himself as “an autodidact OR, more Properly, the beneficiary or Hundreds of hours of informal tutorials on all the areas dat interest me, from some of the world’s leading scientists.” [12]

He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship , two Guggenheim Fellowships , and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences . [13] He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism . [14]He was named 2004 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association . [15]

In February 2010, he was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation ‘s Honorary Board of distinguished achievers. [16]

In 2012, he was Awarded the Erasmus Prize , an annual award for a person who has made an in exceptional contribution to this club to European culture, society or social science, “for his ability to translate the cultural significance of science and technology to a broad audience.” [17]

Philosophical views

Free will

While he is a Confirmed compatibilist on free will , in “On Giving Libertarians What Way Down Say Way Down For” -Chapter 15 or his 1978 book brainstorming , [18] Dennett Articulated the case for a two-stage model of decision-making in contrast to libertarian views.

The model of decision making I am proposing has de volgende feature: als we are faced with an important decision, a Consideration generator Whose output is to some degree undetermined, produces a series of considerations, some or welke nov or course be redacteuren rejected as irrelevant to the agent (consciously or unconsciously). Those considerations therein are selected by the agent as maintaining a morethan negligible bearing on the decision-then figures in a reasoning process, and if the agent is in the main reasonable, Those considerations ultimately serve as predictors and explicators of the agent’s final decision. [19]

While other Philosophers port developed two-stage models, zoals William James , Henri Poincare , Arthur Holly Compton , and Henry Margenau , Dennett defends this model for de volgende reasons:

  1. First … The intelligent selection, rejection, and Weighing of the considerations therein do punctures to the subject is a matter of intelligence making the difference.
  2. Second, I think it installs indeterminism in the right place for the libertarian, if there is a right place at all.
  3. Third … from the point of view of biological engineering, it is just more efficient and in the end more rational therein besluitvorming arnt allowable in this way.
  4. A fourth observation in favor of the model is dat it permits moral education to make a difference, without making all of the difference.
  5. Fifth-and I think this is perhaps the must important thing to be zegt in favor of this model it zorgt some account of our important intuition dat we are the authors of our moral Decisions.
  6. Finally, the model I propose points to the multiplicity of Decisions therein encircle our moral Decisions and suggests dat in many cases our ultimate decision as to welke way to act is less important phenomenologically as a contributor to our sense of free will dan de prior Decisions affecting our taxfree process Itself: the decision, for instance, not to consider ANY remit, to terminate taxfree; or the decision to ignore certainement lines or inquiry.

These prior and subsidiary Decisions Contribute, I think, to our sense of ourselves as verantwoordelijk free agents, roughly when the following way: I am faced with an important decision to make, and after a certainement amount or taxfree, I say to myself: ” That’s enough. I’ve Considered this matter enough and now I’m going to act, “in the full knowledge dat I Could port Considered remit, in the full knowledge dat het eventualities nov prove dat I decided in error, but with the acceptance or Verantwoordelijkheid in any case. [20]

Leading libertarian Philosophers zoals Robert Kane port rejected Dennett’s model, specifiek therein random chance is rechtstreeks involved in a decision, on the basis dat ze believe this eliminates the agent’s motives and reasons, character and values , and feelings and desires- . Ze claim therein, if chance is the primary cause of Decisions, dan agents can not save be Liable for resultant actions. Kane says:

[If Dennett admits,] a causal indeterminist view of this deliberative child does not give us everything libertarians port wanted from free will. For [the agent] does not have complete control over what chance images and other thoughts enter his mind or influence his taxfree. Way Down simply come as they ‘please. [The agent] does have some control after the chance considerations harbor occurred.

But-then there is no more chance involved. What happens from dan one, how he reacts are Determined to desires- and beliefs have Already has. So it Appears dat he does not have control in the libertarian sense of what happens after the chance considerations are allowable as well. Libertarians requirement morethan this for full Verantwoordelijkheid and free will. [21]

Philosophy of mind

Dennett has remarked in verschillende places (such as “Self-portrait” in Brainchildren ) dat his overall philosophical project has remained largely the arrangement since his time at Oxford. He is primarily Concerned with Providing a philosophy of mind dat is grounded in empirical research. In his original dissertation , Content and Consciousness , he broke up the problem or explanatory the mind into tje need for a theory of content and for a theory of consciousness. His approach to this project has ook stayed true to this Distinction. Just as Content and Consciousness has a bipartite structure, have similarly Divided brainstorming JSON two Sections. He mention anything later collect verschillende essays on content in The intentional Stance and synthesize his views on consciousness JSON a unified theory in Consciousness Explained . These volumes respectively form the musts uitgebreide development or his views. [22]

In chapter 5 of Consciousness Explained Dennett describes his multiple drafts model of consciousness. He states dat, “all variations will or perception-indeed all variations will or thought or mental activity-are accomplished in the brain in parallel, multitrack processes or interpretation and elaboration of sensory inputs. Information ends ring zenuwweefsel is under continuous” editorial revision. “(p. 111). Later he asserts, “These yield, over the course of time, something Rather like a narrative stream or sequence, welke kan be thought of as subject to continual editing by many processes distributed around the brain …” (p. 135, specialization in the original).

In this work, Dennett’s interest in the ability of evolution to explain some of the content-producing features of consciousness is Already apparent, and this has since Become an integral part of his program. He defends a theory Berninahaus by some as Neural Darwinism . He’ll be presents an argument Against qualia ; he argues dat de concept is so confused dat it can not save be put to Any use or understood any ‘non-contradictory way, and Charmain Horn Please note does not Constitute a valid refutation of physicalism . His strategy mirrors his teacher Ryle’s approach or Redefining first person phenomena in third person terms, and denying the coherence of the concepts welke this approach struggles with.

Dennett self-identifies with a few terms: “[Others] notes dat my avoidance of the standard philosophical terminology for discussions zoals matters” of or in creates problems for me; Philosophers harbor a hard time figuring out what I am saying and what I am denying . my Refusal to play ball with my colleagues’ is Deliberate, or course, since I view the standard philosophical terminology as worse than useless-a major obstacle to progress since it consists of so many errors. ” [23]

In Consciousness Explained , he affirms “I am a sort or teleofunctionalist , or course, perhaps the original teleofunctionalist ”. He goes on to say, “I am ready to come out of the closet as some sort of verificationist “.

Evolutionary debate

Much of Dennett’s work since the 1990s has leg Concerned with fleshing out his previous ideas by addressing the co topics from an evolutionary standpoint, from what distinguishes human minds from animal minds ( Kinds of Minds ), to how free will is compatible with a naturalist view of the world ( Freedom Evolves ).

Dennett sees evolution by natural selection as an algorithmic process (though he spells out therein algorithms as simple as lung division of or in incorporate a significant degree of randomness ). [24] This idea is in conflict with the evolutionary philosophy of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould , who as preferred to stress the “pluralism” or evolution (ie, haar dependence on many crucial factors, or welke natural selection is only one).

Dennett’s views on evolution are indicated with a being Strongly adaptationist , in line with his theory of the intentional stance , and the evolutionary views or biologist Richard Dawkins. In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea , Dennett Showed himself as more willing dan Dawkins to défend adaptationism in printed Devoting an entire chapter to a criticism of the ideas or Gould. This Stems from Gould’s long-running public debate with EO Wilson and other evolutionary biologists over human sociobiology and its descendant evolutionary psychology , welke Gould and Richard Lewontin Opposed, but welke Dennett advocated, together with Dawkins and Steven Pinker . [25] Strong disagreements port leg launched Against Dennett from Gould and his supporters, who allege therein Dennett overstated his claims and misrepresented Gould’s to reinforce what Gould describes as Dennett’s “Darwinian fundamentalisme”. [26]

Dennett’s theories port had a significant influence on the work of evolutionary Psychologist Geoffrey Miller .

An account of religion and morality

In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea , Dennett writes dat kan evolution account for the origin of morality. He rejects the idea of the naturalistic fallacy as the idea dat ethics in some free-floating realm, writing therein the fallacy is to rush from facts to values.

In his 2006 book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon , Dennett attempts to account for religious belief naturalistically, explanatory skies evolutionary reasons for the phenomenon of religious adherence. In this book he declares himself to be ” a bright “, and defends the term.

He has been doing research JSON Clerics who are Secretly atheists and how they ‘rationalize hun works. He found what he called a “Do not ask, do not tell” conspiracy Because believers did not because to hear or loss of faith. That made unbelieving Preachers feel isolated but they ‘did not because to lose hun jobs and sometimes hun church-supplied Lodgings and algemeen consoled themselves dat ze ulcers doing good in hun pastoral roles at Providing comfort and required ritual. [27] The research, with Linda LaScola was remit extended to include other denominations and non-Christian Clerics. [28]

Other philosophical views

He has’ll be written about and advocated the notion of memetics as a philosophically useful tool Most recently in his “Brains, Computers, and Minds,” a three-part presentation through Harvard’s MBB 2009 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Dennett has leg critical or Postmodernism , keeping zegt:

Postmodernism, the school or “thought” that proclaimed “There are no truths, only Interpretations” has largely played will Itself out into absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of Academics in the humanities disabled by hun distrust of the very idea of truth and hun disrespect for evidence, settling for “conversations” in welke nobody is wrong and nothing kan be confirmed, only Asserted with whatever style you-can-Muster. [29]

Dennett eerste and some what redefined the term “deepity” oorspronkelijk coined by Miriam Weizenbaum [30] (daughter or computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum ). Dennett-used “deepity” for a statement therein are apparently profound, but is actually trivial on one level and meaningless one Another. Generally, a deepity has two (or more) meanings: one dat is true but trivial, and Another dat sounds profound and mention anything be important if true, but is actually false or meaningless. Examples are “Que sera sera”, “Beauty is only skin deep!”, “The Power of Intention kan transform your life.” [31] The term has leg Cited many times.

Personal life

Dennett married Susan Bell in 1962. [32] Way Down live in North Andover, Massachusetts , and harbor a daughter, a sun, and four grandchildren. [33] He is an avid sailor . [34]

Selected works

  • Brainstorming : Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (MIT Press 1981) ( ISBN 0-262-54037-1 )
  • Elbow Room : The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (MIT Press 1984) – on free will and determinism ( ISBN 0-262-04077-8 )
  • The Mind’s I (Bantam, Reissue Edition 1985 with Douglas Hofstadter ) ( ISBN 0-553-34584-2 )
  • Content and Consciousness (Routledge & Kegan Paul Books Ltd; 2nd ed. January 1986) ( ISBN 0-7102-0846-4 )
  • The intentional Stance (6th printing) , Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1996, ISBN  0-262-54053-3 (First published 1987)
  • Consciousness Explained (Back Bay Books 1992) ( ISBN 0-316-18066-1 )
  • Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the meanings of Life (Simon & Schuster; reprint edition 1996) ( ISBN 0-684-82471-X )
  • Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (Basic Books 1997) ( ISBN 0-465-07351-4 )
  • Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds (Representation and Mind) (MIT Press 1998) ( ISBN 0-262-04166-9 ) – A Collection of Essays 1984-1996
  • Freedom Evolves (Viking Press 2003) ( ISBN 0-670-03186-0 )
  • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness ( MIT Press 2005) ( ISBN 0-262-04225-8 )
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Penguin Group 2006) ( ISBN 0-670-03472-X ).
  • Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language (Columbia University Press 2007) ( ISBN 978-0-231-14044-7 ), co-authored with Max Bennett , Peter Hacker , and John Searle
  • Science and Religion (Oxford University Press, 2010) ( ISBN 0-199-73842-4 ), co-authored with Alvin Plantinga
  • Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking (WW Norton & Company – May 6, 2013) ( ISBN 0-393-08206-7 )
  • Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse Engineer the Mind (MIT Press – 2011) ( ISBN 978-0-262-01582-0 ), co-authored with Matthew M. Hurley and Reginald B. Adams, Jr.
  • From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (WW Norton & Company – February 2017) ( ISBN 978-0-393-24207-2 )

See also

  • Thinking portal
  • The Atheism Tapes
  • Cartesian materialism
  • Cognitive biology
  • Evolutionary psychology of religion
  • Greedy reductionism
  • Geoffrey Miller
  • Heterophenomenology
  • intentional stance
  • List of Jean NICOD Prize laureates
  • Multiple drafts theory of consciousness
  • Godsdienstfilosofie


  1. Jump up^ “Daniel Dennett: Autobiography (Part 1)” . philosophynow.org .
  2. Jump up^ “Goodreads Authors” . goodreads.com .
  3. Jump up^ Beardsley, T. (1996)Profile: Daniel C. Dennett – Dennett’s Dangerous Idea,Scientific American 274(2), 34-35.
  4. Jump up^ “Daniel Dennett” . secular.org . ,
  5. Jump up^ “Preview: The Four Horsemen of New Atheism Reunited” . newstatesman.com .
  6. Jump up^ “Editorial board” . The Rutherford Journal . Retrieved 19 January 2016 .
  7. Jump up^ Shook, John R. (June 20, 2005), Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers , ISBN  9781843710370
  8. Jump up^ “Daniel C. Dennett Biography” . eNotes .
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b Feuer, Alan (2007-10-23), “A Dead Spy, a Daughter’s Questions and the CIA” , New York Times , retrieved September 16, 2008
  10. Jump up^ Brown, Andrew (April 17, 2004). “The semantic engineer” . The Guardian . Retrieved February 1, 2010 .
  11. Jump up^ Dennett in conversation withMichio Kakuon Explorations radio show (broadcast onKPFA-FM,Berkeley, California, June 12, 2012)
  12. Jump up^ Dennett, Daniel C. (September 13, 2005) [2004], “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up,” in John Brockman , Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist , New York: Vintage Books, ISBN  1-4000-7686-2
  13. Jump up^ American Scientist
  14. Jump up^ “Council for Secular Humanism” . secularhumanism.org .
  15. Jump up^ “Humanists of the Year” . American Humanist Association .
  16. Jump up^ “Honorary FFRF Board Announced” . Archived from the original on December 17, 2010 . Retrieved August 20, 2008 .
  17. Jump up^ “Erasmus Prize 2012 Awarded to Daniel C. Dennett” . Retrieved January 25, 2012 .
  18. Jump up^ brainstorming: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology, MIT Press (1978), pp. 286-299
  19. Jump up^ brainstorming, p. 295
  20. Jump up^ brainstorming, pp. 295-97
  21. Jump up^ Robert Kane,A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, Oxford (2005) pp. 64-5
  22. Jump up^ Guttenplan, Samuel (1994), A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind , Oxford: Blackwell, p. 642, ISBN  0-631-19996-9
  23. Jump up^ Daniel Dennett,The Message is: There is no Medium
  24. Jump up^ p. 52-60,Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the meanings of Life(Simon & Schuster; reprint edition 1996) (ISBN 0-684-82471-X)
  25. Jump up^ hoewel de Dennett has Expressed criticism of human sociobiology, calling it a form of “greedy reductionism”, have been algemeen sympathetic towards the explanations Proposed byevolutionary psychology. Gould ook is not one sided, and writes: “Sociobiologists port broadened hun range of selective stories in Invoking concepts ofinclusive fitnessandkin selectionto solvency (successfully I think) the vexatious problem of altruism-post with the greatest Stumbling block to a Darwinian theory or social behavior…. Lord sociobiology has had and will continuous to port success. and here I wish it well. For it represents an extension of basic Darwinism to a realm where it should apply. ” Gould, 1980.”Sociobiology and the Theory of Natural Selection”in GW Barlow and J. Silverberg, eds.,Sociobiology: Beyond Nature / Nurture? Boulder CO: Westview Press, pp. 257-269.
  26. Jump up^ “Evolution: The Pleasures of Pluralism” – Stephen Jay Gould’s review ofDarwin’s Dangerous Idea, June 26, 1997
  27. Jump up^ Preachers who are not Believers (PDF), Evolutionary Psychology, Vol. 8, Issue 1, March 2010, pp. 122-50, (ISSN 1474-7049).
  28. Jump up^ Podcast: Interview with Daniel Dennett. Further developments of the research: pastors, Priests, and an Imam who are closet atheists.
  29. Jump up^ DENNETT ON WIESELTIER V. Pinker IN THE NEW REPUBLIChttp://edge.org/conversation/dennett-on-wieseltier-v-pinker-in-the-new-republic
  30. Jump up^ Dennett, Daniel. Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking. WW Norton & Company, 2013 p.56
  31. Jump up^ Oliver Burkeman (25 May 2013). “This column will change your life: deepities – A deepity is not just ANY old pseudo-profound bit of drivel. It’s a specific child or statement dat kan be read in two différent ways … ‘ ‘ . The Guardian . Retrieved 6 February 2016 .
  32. Jump up^ http://faculty.fullerton.edu/cmcconnell/491/AP/Dennett.html
  33. Jump up^ “Daniel C. Dennett: Home” . tufts.edu .
  34. Jump up^ Schuessler, Jennifer (April 29, 2013). “Philosophy That stirs the Waters”. The New York Times .