Daniel Dennett on the evolution of the mind

The Google talk on his new book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. The blurb:

“How did we come to have minds? 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. That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, 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.”

2 thoughts on “Daniel Dennett on the evolution of the mind

  1. Dennett is not just a philosopher without scientific support. The Scientific American (274(2), 34–35) bio of him said he “is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science.”

    He is also co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Which is not to say whether I agree with him or not; just saying he has a scientific basis for his arguments.

    There has been hot and at times rancorous debates in the scientific community about the existence of cultural memes ever since Dawkins proposed them. And Dennett expands on them in his new book. But can we scientifically measure them? See what this article has to say: “Can we measure memes?” Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, 25 May 2011.


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