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Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life Description:

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Rating: 3.26 out of 5

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Description:

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Rating: 3.26 out of 5

Consciousness Explained

Consciousness Explained Description:

Brilliant as audacious as its title Mr Dennett s exposition is nothing short of brilliant George Johnson i New York Times Book Review i br br i Consciousness Explained i is a a full scale exploration of human consciousness In this landmark book Daniel Dennett refutes the traditional commonsense theory of consciousness and presents a new model based on a wealth of information from the fields of neuroscience psychology and artificial intelligence Our current theories about conscious life of people animal even robots are transformed by the new perspectives found in this book

Rating: 3.64 out of 5

Freedom Evolves

Freedom Evolves Description:

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Rating: 3.44 out of 5

Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness

Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness Description:

Combining ideas from philosophy artificial intelligence and neurobiology Daniel Dennett leads the reader on a fascinating journey of inquiry exploring such intriguing possibilities as Can any of us really know what is going on in someone else s mind What distinguishes the human mind from the minds of animals especially those capable of complex behavior If such animals for instance were magically given the power of language would their communities evolve an intelligence as subtly discriminating as ours Will robots once they have been endowed with sensory systems like those that provide us with experience ever exhibit the particular traits long thought to distinguish the human mind including the ability to think about thinking Dennett addresses these questions from an evolutionary perspective Beginning with the macromolecules of DNA and RNA the author shows how step by step animal life moved from the simple ability to respond to frequently recurring environmental conditions to much more powerful ways of beating the odds ways of using patterns of past experience to predict the future in never before encountered situations Whether talking about robots whose video camera eyes give us the powerful illusion that there is somebody in there or asking us to consider whether spiders are just tiny robots mindlessly spinning their webs of elegant design Dennett is a master at finding and posing questions sure to stimulate and even disturb

Rating: 3.68 out of 5

Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking

Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking Description:

Over a storied career Daniel C Dennett has engaged questions about science and the workings of the mind His answers have combined rigorous argument with strong empirical grounding And a lot of fun br em Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking em offers seventy seven of Dennett s most successful imagination extenders and focus holders meant to guide you through some of life s most treacherous subject matter evolution meaning mind and free will With patience and wit Dennett deftly deploys his thinking tools to gain traction on these thorny issues while offering readers insight into how and why each tool was built br br br Alongside well known favorites like Occam s Razor and em reductio ad absurdum em lie thrilling descriptions of Dennett s own creations em Trapped in the Robot Control Room em em Beware of the Prime Mammal em and em The Wandering Two Bitser em Ranging across disciplines as diverse as psychology biology computer science and physics Dennett s tools embrace in equal measure light heartedness and accessibility as they welcome uninitiated and seasoned readers alike As always his goal remains to teach you how to think reliably and even gracefully about really hard questions br br br A sweeping work of intellectual seriousness that s also studded with impish delights em Intuition Pumps em amp nbsp offers intrepid thinkers in all walks of life delicious opportunities to explore their pet ideas with new powers

Rating: 3.33 out of 5

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology Description:

This collection of essays by the author offers a comprehensive theory of mind encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will Using careful arguments and ingenious thought experiments the author exposes familiar preconceptions and hobbling institutions The essays are grouped into four sections Intentional Explanation and Attributions of Mentality The Nature of Theory in Psychology Objects of Consciousness and the Nature of Experience and Free Will and Personhood

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds Description:

How did we come to have minds br br For centuries this question has intrigued psychologists physicists poets and philosophers who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create imagine and explain Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness language and culture could have appeared through natural selection blazing promising trails that tend however to end in confusion and controversy Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins neurons and DNA is deeper than ever before the matter of how our minds came to be has largely remained a mystery br br That is now changing says Daniel C Dennett In em From Bacteria to Bach and Back em his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection Part philosophical whodunit part bold scientific conjecture this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought br br In his inimitable style laced with wit and arresting thought experiments Dennett explains that a crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct Language itself composed of memes turbocharged this interplay Competition among memes a form of natural selection produced thinking tools so well designed that they gave us the power to design our own memes The result a mind that not only perceives and controls but can create and comprehend was thus largely shaped by the process of cultural evolution br br An agenda setting book for a new generation of philosophers scientists and thinkers em From Bacteria to Bach and Back em will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about

Rating: 3.39 out of 5

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting Description:

Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked could I have chosen otherwise after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject Daniel Dennett whose previous books include Brainstorms and with Douglas Hofstadter The Mind s I tackles the free will problem in a highly original and witty manner drawing on the theories and concepts of several fields usually ignored by philosophers not just physics and evolutionary biology but engineering automata theory and artificial intelligence br br In Elbow Room Dennett shows how the classical formulations of the problem in philosophy depend on misuses of imagination and he disentangles the philosophical problems of real interest from the family of anxieties they get enmeshed in imaginary agents bogeymen and dire prospects that seem to threaten our freedom Putting sociobiology in its rightful place he concludes that we can have free will and science too Elbow Room begins by showing how we can be moved by reasons without being exempt from physical causation It goes on to analyze concepts of control and self control concepts often skimped by philosophers but which are central to the questions of free will and determinism A chapter on self made selves discusses the idea of self or agent to see how it can be kept from disappearing under the onslaught of science Dennett then sees what can be made of the notion of acting under the idea of freedomdoes the elbow room we think we have really exist What is an opportunity and how can anything in our futures be up to us He investigates the meaning of can and could have done otherwise and asks why we want free will in the first place We are wise Dennett notes to want free will but that in itself raises a host of questions about responsibility In a final chapter he takes up the problem of how anyone can ever be guilty and what the rationale is for holding people responsible and even on occasion punishing them br br Elbow Room is an expanded version of the John Locke Lectures which Dennett gave at Oxford University in

Rating: 3.43 out of 5

Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness Description:

In the years since Daniel Dennett s influential i Consciousness Explained i was published in scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories so rambunctious Dennett observes that several people are writing books just about the tumult With i Sweet Dreams i Dennett returns to the subject for revision and renewal of his theory of consciousness taking into account major empirical advances in the field since as well as recent theoretical challenges br br In i Consciousness Explained i Dennett proposed to replace the ubiquitous but bankrupt Cartesian Theater model which posits a privileged place in the brain where it all comes together for the magic show of consciousness with the Multiple Drafts Model Drawing on psychology cognitive neuroscience and artificial intelligence he asserted that human consciousness is essentially the mental software that reorganizes the functional architecture of the brain In i Sweet Dreams i he recasts the Multiple Drafts Model as the fame in the brain model as a background against which to examine the philosophical issues that continue to bedevil the field br br With his usual clarity and brio Dennett enlivens his arguments with a variety of vivid examples He isolates the Zombic Hunch that distorts much of the theorizing of both philosophers and scientists and defends heterophenomenology his third person approach to the science of consciousness against persistent misinterpretations and objections The old challenge of Frank Jackson s thought experiment about Mary the color scientist is given a new rebuttal in the form of RoboMary while his discussion of a famous card trick The Tuned Deck is designed to show that David Chalmers s Hard Problem is probably just a figment of theorists misexploited imagination In the final essay the intrinsic nature of qualia is compared with the naively imagined intrinsic value of a dollar in Consciousness How Much is That in Real Money

Rating: 3.61 out of 5