Monday, August 18, 2008

Dennett, Daniel. "Daniel Dennett's Darwinian Mind: an Interview with a 'Dangerous' Man [with Chris Floyd]." SCIENCE AND SPIRIT (2008).

In matters of the mind—the exploration of consciousness, its correlation with the body, its evolutionary foundations, and the possibilities of its creation through computer technology—few voices today speak as boldly as that of philosopher Daniel Dennett. His best-selling works—among them Consciousness Explained and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea—have provoked fierce debates with their rigorous arguments, eloquent polemic and witty, no-holds-barred approach to intellectual combat. He is often ranked alongside Richard Dawkins as one of the most powerful—and, in some circles, feared—proponents of thorough-going Darwinism. Dennett has famously called Darwinism a "universal acid," cutting through every aspect of science, culture, religion, art and human thought. "The question is," he writes in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, "what does it leave behind? I have tried to show that once it passes through everything, we are left with stronger, sounder versions of our most important ideas. Some of the traditional details perish, and some of these are losses to be regretted, but . . . what remains is more than enough to build on." Consciousness has arisen from the unwilled, unordained algorithmic processes of natural selection, says Dennett, whose work delivers a strong, extensive attack on the "argument from design" or the "anthropic principle." But a world without a Creator or an "Ultimate Meaning" is not a world without creation or meaning, he insists. When viewed through the solvent of Darwinism, he writes, "the ‘miracles’ of life and consciousness turn out to be even better than we imagined back when we were sure they were inexplicable." Dennett’s prominence does not rest solely on his high public profile in the scientific controversies of our day; it is also based on a large body of academic work dealing with various aspects of the mind, stretching back almost 40 years. Dennett has long been associated with Tufts University, where he is now Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies. Boston-born, Oxford-educated, he now divides his time between North Andover, Massachusetts, and his farm in Maine, where he grows hay and blueberries, and makes cider wine. . . . Read the rest here:

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