Dennett in 2012
Daniel Clement Dennett III
March 28, 1942
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Susan Bell(m. 1962)
|Thesis||The Mind and the Brain (1965)|
|Doctoral advisor||Gilbert Ryle|
| Heterophenomenology |
Multiple drafts model
Belief in belief
Top-down vs bottom-up design
Cassette theory of dreams
Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science.
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."
Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.
As of 2017, he is 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,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.
Tufts University is a private research university in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. A charter member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian universalists who worked for years to open a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. It was a small New England liberal arts college until its transformation into a larger research university in the 1970s. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all its disciplines, and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs.
Atheism is, in the broadest sense, an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations". In certain context, the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment.
Dennett is a member of the editorial board for The Rutherford Journal .
The editorial board is a group of experts, usually at a publication, who dictate the tone and direction the publication's editorial policy will take.
Dennett was born on March 28, 1942, in Boston, Massachusetts,the son of Ruth Marjorie (née Leck) and Daniel Clement Dennett Jr. Dennett spent part of his childhood in Lebanon, where, during World War II, his father was a covert counter-intelligence agent with the Office of Strategic Services posing as a cultural attaché to the American Embassy in Beirut. When he was five, his mother took him back to Massachusetts after his father died in an unexplained plane crash. Dennett's sister is the investigative journalist Charlotte Dennett. Dennett says that he was first introduced to the notion of philosophy while attending summer camp at age 11, when a camp counselor said to him, "You know what you are, Daniel? You're a philosopher."
Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States, and the 21st most populous city in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 694,583 in 2018, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth most populous in the United States.
Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km2, it is the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Dennett graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1959, and spent one year at Wesleyan University before receiving his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Harvard University in 1963. At Harvard University he was a student of W. V. 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 Hertford College.His dissertation was entitled The Mind and the Brain: Introspective Description in the Light of Neurological Findings; Intentionality.
Phillips Exeter Academy is a coeducational independent school for boarding and day students in grades 9 through 12, and offers a secondary postgraduate program. Located in Exeter, New Hampshire, it is one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States. Exeter is based on the Harkness education system, a conference format of student interaction with minimal teacher involvement. It has the largest endowment of any New England boarding school, which as of 2018 was valued at $1.3 billion. On January 25, 2019, William K. Rawson was appointed by the academy's trustees as the 16th Principal Instructor. He is the 4th alumnus of Exeter to serve as Principal Instructor, after Gideon Lane Soule (1838–1873), Harlan Amen, and William Saltonstall (1946–1963).
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut. It is a baccalaureate college that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and sciences, but also grants research master's and doctoral degrees in many academic disciplines.
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 13,100 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is cited as the world's top university by many publishers.
Dennett describes himself as "an autodidact—or, more properly, the beneficiary of hundreds of hours of informal tutorials on all the fields that interest me, from some of the world's leading scientists".
Autodidacticism or self-education is education without the guidance of masters or institutions. Generally, an autodidact is an individual who chooses the subject they will study, their studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. An autodidact may or may not have formal education, and their study may be either a complement or an alternative to formal education. Many notable contributions have been made by autodidacts.
He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism. He was named 2004 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.
In February 2010, he was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers.
In 2012, he was awarded the Erasmus Prize, an annual award for a person who has made an exceptional contribution to European culture, society or social science, "for his ability to translate the cultural significance of science and technology to a broad audience."
In 2018, he was awarded an honorary degree by Radboud University, located in Nijmegen, Netherlands, for his contributions to and influence on cross-disciplinary science.
While he is a confirmed compatibilist on free will, in "On Giving Libertarians What They Say They Want"—chapter 15 of his 1978 book Brainstorms—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 the following feature: when we are faced with an important decision, a consideration-generator whose output is to some degree undetermined, produces a series of considerations, some of which may of course be immediately rejected as irrelevant by the agent (consciously or unconsciously). Those considerations that are selected by the agent as having a more than negligible bearing on the decision then figure 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.
While other philosophers have developed two-stage models, including William James, Henri Poincaré, Arthur Compton, and Henry Margenau, Dennett defends this model for the following reasons:
- First ... The intelligent selection, rejection, and weighing of the considerations that do occur to the subject is a matter of intelligence making the difference.
- Second, I think it installs indeterminism in the right place for the libertarian, if there is a right place at all.
- Third ... from the point of view of biological engineering, it is just more efficient and in the end more rational that decision making should occur in this way.
- A fourth observation in favor of the model is that it permits moral education to make a difference, without making all of the difference.
- Fifth—and I think this is perhaps the most important thing to be said in favor of this model—it provides some account of our important intuition that we are the authors of our moral decisions.
- Finally, the model I propose points to the multiplicity of decisions that encircle our moral decisions and suggests that in many cases our ultimate decision as to which way to act is less important phenomenologically as a contributor to our sense of free will than the prior decisions affecting our deliberation process itself: the decision, for instance, not to consider any further, to terminate deliberation; or the decision to ignore certain lines of inquiry.
These prior and subsidiary decisions contribute, I think, to our sense of ourselves as responsible free agents, roughly in the following way: I am faced with an important decision to make, and after a certain amount of deliberation, I say to myself: "That's enough. I've considered this matter enough and now I'm going to act," in the full knowledge that I could have considered further, in the full knowledge that the eventualities may prove that I decided in error, but with the acceptance of responsibility in any case.
Leading libertarian philosophers such as Robert Kane have rejected Dennett's model, specifically that random chance is directly involved in a decision, on the basis that they believe this eliminates the agent's motives and reasons, character and values, and feelings and desires. They claim that, if chance is the primary cause of decisions, then agents cannot be liable for resultant actions. Kane says:
[As Dennett admits,] a causal indeterminist view of this deliberative kind does not give us everything libertarians have 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 deliberation. They simply come as they please. [The agent] does have some control after the chance considerations have occurred.
But then there is no more chance involved. What happens from then on, how he reacts, is determined by desires and beliefs he already has. So it appears that he does not have control in the libertarian sense of what happens after the chance considerations occur as well. Libertarians require more than this for full responsibility and free will.
Dennett has remarked in several places (such as "Self-portrait", in Brainchildren) that his overall philosophical project has remained largely the same since his time at Oxford. He is primarily concerned with providing a philosophy of mind that is grounded in empirical research. In his original dissertation, Content and Consciousness, he broke up the problem of explaining the mind into the need for a theory of content and for a theory of consciousness. His approach to this project has also stayed true to this distinction. Just as Content and Consciousness has a bipartite structure, he similarly divided Brainstorms into two sections. He would later collect several essays on content in The Intentional Stance and synthesize his views on consciousness into a unified theory in Consciousness Explained . These volumes respectively form the most extensive development of his views.
In chapter 5 of Consciousness Explained Dennett describes his multiple drafts model of consciousness. He states that, "all varieties of perception—indeed all varieties of thought or mental activity—are accomplished in the brain by parallel, multitrack processes of interpretation and elaboration of sensory inputs. Information entering the nervous system 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, which can be thought of as subject to continual editing by many processes distributed around the brain, ..." (p. 135, emphasis 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 known by some as Neural Darwinism. He also presents an argument against qualia; he argues that the concept is so confused that it cannot be put to any use or understood in any non-contradictory way, and therefore does not constitute a valid refutation of physicalism. His strategy mirrors his teacher Ryle's approach of redefining first person phenomena in third person terms, and denying the coherence of the concepts which this approach struggles with.
Dennett self-identifies with a few terms:
[Others] note that my "avoidance of the standard philosophical terminology for discussing such matters" often creates problems for me; philosophers have a hard time figuring out what I am saying and what I am denying. My refusal to play ball with my colleagues is deliberate, of course, since I view the standard philosophical terminology as worse than useless—a major obstacle to progress since it consists of so many errors.
In Consciousness Explained, he affirms "I am a sort of 'teleofunctionalist', of course, perhaps the original teleofunctionalist". He goes on to say, "I am ready to come out of the closet as some sort of verificationist".(page 460-461)
Much of Dennett's work since the 1990s has been concerned with fleshing out his previous ideas by addressing the same 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 that algorithms as simple as long division often incorporate a significant degree of randomness).This idea is in conflict with the evolutionary philosophy of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who preferred to stress the "pluralism" of evolution (i.e., its dependence on many crucial factors, of which natural selection is only one).
Dennett's views on evolution are identified as being strongly adaptationist, in line with his theory of the intentional stance, and the evolutionary views of biologist Richard Dawkins. In Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Dennett showed himself even more willing than Dawkins to defend adaptationism in print, devoting an entire chapter to a criticism of the ideas of Gould. This stems from Gould's long-running public debate with E. O. Wilson and other evolutionary biologists over human sociobiology and its descendant evolutionary psychology, which Gould and Richard Lewontin opposed, but which Dennett advocated, together with Dawkins and Steven Pinker.Gould argued that Dennett overstated his claims and misrepresented Gould's, to reinforce what Gould describes as Dennett's "Darwinian fundamentalism".
Dennett's theories have had a significant influence on the work of evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller.
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In Darwin's Dangerous Idea , Dennett writes that evolution can account for the origin of morality. He rejects the idea of the naturalistic fallacy as the idea that ethics is in some free-floating realm, writing that 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, explaining possible 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 into clerics who are secretly atheists and how they rationalize their works. He found what he called a "don't ask, don't tell" conspiracy because believers did not want to hear of loss of faith. That made unbelieving preachers feel isolated but they did not want to lose their jobs and sometimes their church-supplied lodgings and generally consoled themselves that they were doing good in their pastoral roles by providing comfort and required ritual.The research, with Linda LaScola, was further extended to include other denominations and non-Christian clerics. The research and stories Dennett and LaScola accumulated during this project were published in their 2013 co-authored book, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind.
He has also 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 been critical of postmodernism, having said:
Postmodernism, the school of "thought" that proclaimed "There are no truths, only interpretations" has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for "conversations" in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.
Dennett adopted and somewhat redefined the term "deepity", originally coined by Miriam Weizenbaum.Dennett used "deepity" for a statement that is apparently profound, but is actually trivial on one level and meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has two (or more) meanings: one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound and would be important if true, but is actually false or meaningless. Examples are "Que sera sera!", "Beauty is only skin deep!", "The power of intention can transform your life." The term has been cited many times.
While approving of the increase in efficiency that humans reap by using resources such as expert systems in medicine or GPS in navigation, Dennett sees a danger in machines performing an ever-increasing proportion of basic tasks in perception, memory, and algorithmic computation because people may tend to anthropomorphize such systems and attribute intellectual powers to them that they do not possess.He believes the relevant danger from AI is that people will misunderstand the nature of basically "parasitic" AI systems, rather than employing them constructively to challenge and develop the human user's powers of comprehension.
As given in his most recent book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back , Dennett's views stand in contradistinction to those of Nick Bostrom.Although acknowledging that it is "possible in principle" to create AI with human-like comprehension and agency, Dennett maintains that the difficulties of any such "strong AI" project would be orders of magnitude greater than those raising concerns have realized. According to Dennett, the prospect of superintelligence (AI massively exceeding the cognitive performance of humans in all domains) is at least 50 years away, and of far less pressing significance than other problems the world faces.
Dennett married Susan Bell in 1962.They live in North Andover, Massachusetts, and have a daughter, a son, and five grandchildren.
Dennett is an avid sailor.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life is a 1995 book by Daniel Dennett, in which the author looks at some of the repercussions of Darwinian theory. The crux of the argument is that, whether or not Darwin's theories are overturned, there is no going back from the dangerous idea that design might not need a designer. Dennett makes this case on the basis that natural selection is a blind process, which is nevertheless sufficiently powerful to explain the evolution of life. Darwin's discovery was that the generation of life worked algorithmically, that processes behind it work in such a way that given these processes the results that they tend toward must be so.
Punctuated equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology which proposes that once a species appears in the fossil record the population will become stable, showing little evolutionary change for most of its geological history. This state of little or no morphological change is called stasis. When significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called cladogenesis. Cladogenesis is the process by which a species splits into two distinct species, rather than one species gradually transforming into another.
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1996, Gould was hired as the Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University, where he divided his time teaching there and at Harvard.
The problem of other minds is a philosophical problem traditionally stated as the following epistemological challenge raised by the skeptic: Given that I can only observe the behavior of others, how can I know that others have minds? It is a central issue of the philosophical idea known as solipsism: the notion that for any person only one's own mind is known to exist. Solipsism maintains that no matter how sophisticated someone's behavior is, behavior on its own does not guarantee the presence of mentality.
Intentionality is a philosophical concept defined as "the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs". The idea fell out of discussion with the end of the medieval scholastic period, but in recent times was resurrected by Franz Brentano and later adopted by Edmund Husserl. Today, intentionality is a live concern among philosophers of mind and language. The earliest theory of intentionality is associated with St. Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God, and with his tenets distinguishing between objects that exist in the understanding and objects that exist in reality.
Greedy reductionism, identified by Daniel Dennett, in his 1995 book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, is a kind of erroneous reductionism. Whereas "good" reductionism means explaining a thing in terms of what it reduces to, greedy reductionism occurs when "in their eagerness for a bargain, in their zeal to explain too much too fast, scientists and philosophers ... underestimate the complexities, trying to skip whole layers or levels of theory in their rush to fasten everything securely and neatly to the foundation". Using the terminology of "cranes" and "skyhooks" built up earlier in the chapter, Dennett recapitulates his initial definition of the term in the chapter summary on p. 83: "Good reductionists suppose that all Design can be explained without skyhooks; greedy reductionists suppose it can all be explained without cranes."
The Mind's I: Fantasies and reflections on self and soul is a 1981 collection of essays and other texts about the nature of the mind and the self, edited with commentary by philosophers Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett. The texts range from early philosophical and fictional musings on a subject that could seemingly only be examined in the realm of thought, to works from the twentieth century where the nature of the self became a viable topic for scientific study.
Eliminative materialism is the claim that people's common-sense understanding of the mind is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. It is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Some supporters of eliminativism argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level. Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.
Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics. In particular, libertarianism is an incompatibilist position which argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe. Libertarianism states that since agents have free will, determinism must be false. One of the first clear formulations of libertarianism is found in John Duns Scotus; in theological context metaphysical libertarianism was notably defended by Jesuit authors like Luis de Molina and Francisco Suárez against rather compatibilist Thomist Báñezianism. Other important metaphysical libertarians in the early modern period were René Descartes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Reid. Roderick Chisholm was a prominent defender of libertarianism in the 20th century, and contemporary libertarians include Robert Kane, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Nozick.
Jerry Alan Fodor was an American philosopher and cognitive scientist. He held the position of State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Rutgers University and was the author of many works in the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, in which he laid the groundwork for the modularity of mind and the language of thought hypotheses, among other ideas. He was known for his provocative and sometimes polemical style of argumentation and as "one of the principal philosophers of mind of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. In addition to having exerted an enormous influence on virtually every portion of the philosophy of mind literature since 1960, Fodor's work has had a significant impact on the development of the cognitive sciences."
New mysterianism—or commonly just mysterianism—is a philosophical position proposing that the hard problem of consciousness cannot be resolved by humans. The unresolvable problem is how to explain the existence of qualia. In terms of the various schools of philosophy of mind, mysterianism is a form of nonreductive physicalism. Some "mysterians" state their case uncompromisingly ; others believe merely that consciousness is not within the grasp of present human understanding, but may be comprehensible to future advances of science and technology.
The user illusion is the illusion created for the user by a human–computer interface, for example the visual metaphor of a desktop used in many graphical user interfaces. The phrase originated at Xerox PARC.
In evolutionary biology, the Baldwin effect describes the effect of learned behavior on evolution. In brief, James Mark Baldwin and others suggested during the eclipse of Darwinism in the late 19th century that an organism's ability to learn new behaviors will affect its reproductive success and will therefore have an effect on the genetic makeup of its species through natural selection. Though this process appears similar to Lamarckian evolution, Lamarck proposed that living things inherited their parents' acquired characteristics. The Baldwin effect has been independently proposed several times, and today it is generally recognized as part of the modern synthesis.
Orthogenesis, also known as orthogenetic evolution, progressive evolution, evolutionary progress, or progressionism, is the biological hypothesis that organisms have an innate tendency to evolve in a definite direction towards some goal (teleology) due to some internal mechanism or "driving force". According to the theory, the largest-scale trends in evolution have an absolute goal such as increasing biological complexity. Prominent historical figures who have championed some form of evolutionary progress include Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Henri Bergson.
Helena Cronin is a British Darwinian philosopher and rationalist. She is the co-director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science and the Darwin Centre at the London School of Economics. She achieved prominence with her book, The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today (1991) and has published and broadcast widely since.
Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology is a 1981 book by the American philosopher Daniel Dennett. In these 17 essays, he reflects on the early achievements of artificial intelligence to develop his ideas on consciousness, theory of mind, and free will.
H. Allen Orr is the Shirley Cox Kearns Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester.
In the philosophy of mind, the Brainstorm machine is a thought experiment described by Daniel Dennett, to show that it is not possible to intersubjectively compare any two individuals' personal experiences, or qualia, even with perfect technology. It is based on a device described in the film Brainstorm, in which the visual experience of one individual is fed into the brain of another. According to Dennett in Quining Qualia:
Suppose [that] there were some neuroscientific apparatus that fits on your head and feeds your visual experience into my brain. With eyes closed I accurately report everything you are looking at, except that I marvel at how the sky is yellow, the grass red, and so forth. Would this not confirm, empirically, that our qualia were different? But suppose the technician then pulls the plug on the connecting cable, inverts it 180 degrees and reinserts it in the socket. Now I report the sky is blue, the grass green, and so forth. Which is the "right" orientation of the plug? Designing and building such a device would require that its "fidelity" be tuned or calibrated by the normalization of the two subjects' reports--so we would be right back at our evidential starting point. The moral of this intuition pump is that no intersubjective comparison of qualia is possible, even with perfect technology.
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False is a 2012 book by the philosopher Thomas Nagel.
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds is a 2017 book about the origin of human consciousness by philosopher Daniel Dennett, in which the author makes a case for a materialist theory of mind, arguing that consciousness is no more mysterious than gravity.