Daniel C. Dennett Consciousness Explained

ISBN 13: 9780713990379

Consciousness Explained

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9780713990379: Consciousness Explained
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In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett reveals the secrets of one of the last remaining mysteries of the universe: the human brain. Daniel C. Dennett's now-classic book blends philosophy, psychology and neuroscience - with the aid of numerous examples and thought-experiments - to explore how consciousness has evolved, and how a modern understanding of the human mind is radically different from conventional explanations of consciousness. What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but 'multiple drafts' of reality composed by a computer-like 'virtual machine'. Dennett explains how science has exploded the classic mysteries of consciousness: the nature of introspection, the self or ego and its relation to thoughts and sensations, the problems posed by qualia, and the level of consciousness of non-human creatures. 'Brilliant ... a torrent of stimulating thought' Richard Dawkins 'Revolutionary ... one of the most mentally agile, intellectually resourceful books you are likely to read' Guardian 'A masterful tapestry of deep insights ... Dennett has written a profound and important book that is also clear, exciting and witty' Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of Godel, Escher, Bach 'Extraordinary ... supremely engaging and witty' Independent 'Dennett's exposition is nothing short of brilliant, the best example I've seen of a science book aimed at both professionals and general readers' The New York Times Book Review Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world. A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies, and an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. His books include Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Breaking the Spell, Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Freedom Evolves.

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Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience--the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes--that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett's attempt to resolve this dilemma is the "heterophenomenological" method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally--not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater--the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached.

Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. --Glenn Branch

About the Author:

Daniel Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea. He is currently the Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts.

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