From Bacteria To Bach And Back The Evolution Of Minds

Author: Daniel C. Dennett
Editor: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393242080
Size: 13,12 MB
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"A supremely enjoyable, intoxicating work." —Nature How did we come to have minds? For centuries, poets, philosophers, psychologists, and physicists have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled abilities. Disciples of Darwin have explained how natural selection produced plants, but what about the human mind? In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C. Dennett builds on recent discoveries from biology and computer science to show, step by step, how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. A crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes, or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct. Competition among memes produced thinking tools powerful enough that our minds don’t just perceive and react, they create and comprehend. An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and scientists, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain all those curious about how the mind works.

Breaking The Spell

Author: Daniel C. Dennett
Editor: Penguin
ISBN: 9781101218860
Size: 13,19 MB
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For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why—and how—it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life? Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious screed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.

Elbow Room

Author: Daniel C. Dennett
Editor: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262332043
Size: 13,22 MB
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A landmark book in the debate over free will that makes the case for compatibilism. In this landmark 1984 work on free will, Daniel Dennett makes a case for compatibilism. His aim, as he writes in the preface to this new edition, was a cleanup job, “saving everything that mattered about the everyday concept of free will, while jettisoning the impediments.” In Elbow Room, Dennett argues that the varieties of free will worth wanting—those that underwrite moral and artistic responsibility—are not threatened by advances in science but distinguished, explained, and justified in detail. Dennett tackles the question of free will in a highly original and witty manner, drawing on the theories and concepts of fields that range from physics and evolutionary biology to engineering, automata theory, and artificial intelligence. He shows how the classical formulations of the problem in philosophy depend on misuses of imagination, and he disentangles the philosophical problems of real interest from the “family of anxieties” in which they are often enmeshed—imaginary agents and bogeymen, including the Peremptory Puppeteer, the Nefarious Neurosurgeon, and the Cosmic Child Whose Dolls We Are. Putting sociobiology in its rightful place, he concludes that we can have free will and science too. He explores reason, control and self-control, the meaning of “can” and “could have done otherwise,” responsibility and punishment, and why we would want free will in the first place. A fresh reading of Dennett's book shows how much it can still contribute to current discussions of free will. This edition includes as its afterword Dennett's 2012 Erasmus Prize essay.

Inside Jokes

Author: Matthew M. Hurley
Editor: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262294818
Size: 18,18 MB
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Some things are funny -- jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The Far Side, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed -- but why? Why does humor exist in the first place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks, watching The Simpsons? In Inside Jokes, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose, evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished with open-ended thinking. Mother Nature -- aka natural selection -- cannot just order the brain to find and fix all our time-pressured misleaps and near-misses. She has to bribe the brain with pleasure. So we find them funny. This wired-in source of pleasure has been tickled relentlessly by humorists over the centuries, and we have become addicted to the endogenous mind candy that is humor.

Brainstorms

Author: Daniel C. Dennett
Editor: MIT Press
ISBN: 026253438X
Size: 18,15 MB
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Intentional explanation and attributions of mentality -- International systems -- Reply to Arbib and Gunderson -- Brain writing and mind reading -- The nature of theory in psychology -- Skinner skinned -- Why the law of effect will not go away -- A cure for the common code? -- Artificial intelligence as philosophy and as psychology -- Objects of consciousness and the nature of experience -- Are dreams experiences? -- Toward a cognitive theory of consciousness -- Two approaches to mental images -- Why you can't make a computer that feels pain -- Free will and personhood -- Mechanism and responsibility -- The abilities of men and machines -- Conditions of personhood -- On giving libertarians what they say they want -- How to change your mind -- Where am I?

The Crucible Of Consciousness

Author:
Editor: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262261219
Size: 19,62 MB
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This text is an interdisciplinary examination of the evolutionary breakthroughs that rendered the brain accessible to itself.

The Four Horsemen

Author: Christopher Hitchens
Editor: Random House
ISBN: 0525511962
Size: 19,57 MB
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In 2007, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett filmed a landmark discussion about modern atheism. The video went viral. Now in print for the first time, the transcript of their conversation is illuminated by new essays from three of the original participants and an introduction by Stephen Fry. At the dawn of the new atheist movement, the thinkers who became known as “the four horsemen,” the heralds of religion's unraveling—Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett—sat down together over cocktails. What followed was a rigorous, pathbreaking, and enthralling exchange, which has been viewed millions of times since it was first posted on YouTube. This is intellectual inquiry at its best: exhilarating, funny, and unpredictable, sincere and probing, reminding us just how varied and colorful the threads of modern atheism are. Here is the transcript of that conversation, in print for the first time, augmented by material from the living participants: Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett. These new essays, introduced by Stephen Fry, mark the evolution of their thinking and highlight particularly resonant aspects of this epic exchange. Each man contends with the most fundamental questions of human existence while challenging the others to articulate their own stance on God and religion, cultural criticism, spirituality, debate with people of faith, and the components of a truly ethical life. Advance praise for The Four Horsemen “The full, electrifying transcript of the one and only conversation between the quartet of luminaries dubbed the ‘four horsemen’ of the New Atheism, which took place in Washington, D.C., in 2007. Among the vast range of ideas and questions they discuss: Is it ever possible to win a war of ideas? Is spirituality the preserve of the religious? And, are there any truths you would rather not know?”—The Bookseller (UK) (starred review) “If thinking were a sport, these four would be national superstars—and reading The Four Horsemen feels like having a front-row seat at the all-star game. This is more than a book about atheism and religion—it’s a lesson in how to use our intellect to cut through the haze of delusion and misconception inherent in any human society.”—Tim Urban, writer of Wait But Why?

Feeling Pain And Being In Pain

Author: Nikola Grahek
Editor: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262262959
Size: 16,16 MB
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In Feeling Pain and Being in Pain, Nikola Grahek examines two of the most radical dissociation syndromes to be found in human pain experience: pain without painfulness and painfulness without pain. Grahek shows that these two syndromes -- the complete dissociation of the sensory dimension of pain from its affective, cognitive, and behavioral components, and its opposite, the dissociation of pain's affective components from its sensory-discriminative components (inconceivable to most of us but documented by ample clinical evidence) -- have much to teach us about the true nature and structure of human pain experience. Grahek explains the crucial distinction betweenfeeling pain and being in pain, defending it on both conceptual and empirical grounds. He argues that the two dissociative syndromes reveal the complexity of the human pain experience: its major components, the role they play in overall pain experience, the way they work together, and the basic neural structures and mechanisms that subserve them. Feeling Pain and Being in Pain does not offer another philosophical theory of pain that conclusively supports or definitively refutes either subjectivist or objectivist assumptions in the philosophy of mind. Instead, Grahek calls for a less doctrinaire and more balanced approach to the study of mind--brain phenomena.

Pipeline Politics

Author: Charlotte Dennett
Editor: Chelsea Green Publishing Company
ISBN: 9781603588775
Size: 13,48 MB
Format: PDF
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Unraveling the mystery of a master spy's death by following pipelines and mapping wars in the Middle East When Daniel Dennett, America's first master spy in the Middle East, was dispatched to Saudi Arabia in 1947, he had a particular mission: to study the route of the proposed Trans-Arabian Pipeline. It would be his last assignment. The plane carrying him from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia went down in a mysterious crash, killing all on board. Decades later his daughter, journalist Charlotte Dennett, decided to find out what was behind her father's death and why the records about it remained classified after so many years. Along the way she stumbled upon map after map showing proposed, built, and contested pipelines. And she came to realize just how much unrest in and around the Middle East in the past three decades could be explained by doing one simple thing: following pipeline routes. That is exactly what Dennett does in The Crash of Flight 3804. Through stories and maps, she explores her father's last journey and reveals the hidden dynamics of pipeline politics in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. She shows how pipeline conflicts help explain why the United States is vehemently opposed to Iran and its allies, Syria and Russia, and why Africa is becoming a major battleground where the United States is pitted against China and their proxies in the Great Game for Oil. "Pipeline consciousness" has begun to take hold in the American public, thanks to the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Tar Sands Keystone XL pipeline. Yet there is little awareness or discussion of how US military deployments to the Middle East are designed to protect pipeline routes from sabotage--or bring down governments that oppose them. Understanding those connections, stresses Dennett, is more critical than ever. Since 9/11, Americans have been told that they are sending soldiers to foreign lands to eradicate Islamist terrorists threatening US national security. Rarely has the American media provided the broader context in which the conflicts have taken place--namely, the feverish competition for oil and natural gas supplies among nations and fossil fuel companies. But who, asks Dennett, would want to send their children into war to help oil and gas companies?

From Darwin To Derrida

Author: David Haig
Editor: Mit Press
ISBN: 9780262043786
Size: 13,43 MB
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"The main task of this book is to explain how the process of natural selection produces purposeful beings that make sense of their world - organisms who do things for good reasons. It provides a link between a physical world described in terms of matter in motion and a living world described in terms of meanings and purposes. David is proposing a unification of biology and the humanities through a shared engagement with questions of purpose and meaning. From the Introduction: Spoken and written language are the expression of deep inner structures. The language that is censored says something about the values and fears of the censor. This book pays close attention to the meanings of words for four main reasons. The first is that languages evolve and provide useful analogies for thinking about genetic evolution. The second is that meaning is the outcome of a process of interpretation and is specific to each interpreter. The same words will be interpreted differently and mean different things for each reader. As a result many acrimonious disputes in the philosophy of biology are really quibbling about definitions rather than disputes about facts. The third is that the origin of language marked an extraordinary expansion in the lexical expressivity of the flux of meaning. The fourth, and most important, is that the beauty and diversity of language, like the beauty and diversity of the natural world, are wonders to behold. Natural selection reuses old materials for new purposes. Its products are thereby comprised of parts of variable age that nevertheless must work together in some more-or-less coherent fashion. The resulting genomes are pastiche and so is this book. Its bricolage extends to the extensive use of quotations and paraphrase. Finally, I believe that the humanities and sciences have much to say to each other, so I wished to express my ideas in a style that would engage both audiences at the risk of enraging both and being ignored by both. Much of the prose was originally written under the constraints of meeting the selective criteria of scientific reviewers, and it shows. But the freedom from these constraints as I have revised the text has been liberating"--