Friday, January 07, 2005

Daniel Dennett

Previously, my blog has had some quotations from philosopher of science Daniel C. Dennett and I thought it was time for another (one just can't have enough). This is from Wikipedia that does a good job of communicating his core perspective. As I have been highly influenced by Dennett's work (see link on sidebar for more essays), this quotation also communicates my thoughts regarding brain/mind.

A quote from Chapter 25 of Brain Children that is fundamental to understanding Dennett's work:

"The first stable conclusion I reached … was that the only thing brains could do was to approximate the responsivity to meanings that we presuppose in our everyday mentalistic discourse. When mechanical push comes to shove, a brain was always going to do what it was caused to do by current, local, mechanical circumstances, whatever it ought to do, whatever a God's-eye view might reveal about the actual meaning of its current states. But over the long haul, brains could be designed - by evolutionary processes - to do the right thing (from the point of view of meaning) with high reliability. … [B]rains are syntactic engines that can mimic the competence of semantic engines. … The appreciation of meanings - their discrimination and delectation - is central to our vision of consciousness, but this conviction that I, on the inside, deal directly with meanings turns out to be something rather like a benign "user-illusion".


Post a Comment

<< Home