Category Archives: Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett

The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain anymore, so it eats it! (It’s rather like getting tenure.)

Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained, London, 1991, p. 177

Daniel Dennett

In most sciences, there are few things more prized than a counterintuitive result. It shows something surprising and forces us to reconsider our often tacit assumptions. In philosophy of mind a counterintuitive ‘result’ (for example, a mind-boggling implication of somebody’s ‘theory’ of perception, memory, consciousness or whatever) is typically taken as tantamount to a refutation. This affection for one’s current intuitions […] installs deep conservatism in the methods of philosophers.

Daniel Dennett, Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2005, p. 34

Daniel Dennett

Do we really think what we are currently confronted with is worth protecting with some creative obscurantism? Do we think, for instance, that vast resources should be set aside to preserve the imaginary prospects of a renewed mental life for deeply comatose people, while there are no resources to spare to enhance the desperate, but far from imaginary, expectations of the poor? Myths about the sanctity of life, or of consciousness, cut both ways. They may be useful in erecting barriers (against euthanasia, against capital punishment, against abortion, against eating meat) to impress the unimaginative, but at the price of offensive hypocrisy or ridiculous self-deception among the more enlightened.

Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained, Boston, 1991, p. 454