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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
Tufts University cognitive scientist Dennett claims to have developed a major new theory of consciousness, yet his view of the brain as a massive parallel processor is a familiar one. What is different in his counter-intuitive theory is the claim that human consciousness, rather than being "hard-wired" into the brain's innate machinery, is more like software "running on the brain's parallel hardware" and is largely a product of cultural evolution. Author of Brainstorms , Dennett leads the adventurous gently through thought experiments, metaphors and diagrams in a treatise keyed to the serious, diligent reader. He presents a plausible evolutionary scenario of how consciousness could have emerged from the hominid brain. Dennett's audacious, tantalizing foray into the mind's inner workings ties up loose ends at the interface of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and biology.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Dennett is this pompous author who plunges into the subject without a proper appreciation of the complexities of the matter. Read morePublished on June 1 2004
I wonder if Dennett has ever truly understood the Kantian dichotomy of noumenon and phenomena. At any rate, nowhere in his book, there is any meaningful reference to this... Read morePublished on March 26 2004 by Ferdino
First of all, this guy's book-title smacks of hubris! He is a pedant posing as a philosopher. Using sophistry to weave a web of verbal convolutions, in which consciousness manages... Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2004 by ken
The above is the title of a review of Dennet's book by John Searle in his 'Mysteries of Consciousness'... Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2003
The mistake here is in assuming the mind is SOMETHING - some abstract object waiting for someone to comprehend it. Read morePublished on March 21 2003 by Isle of Jurs
Very slow and far too long book based on a few crucial experiments or diseases: the color-phi-phenomenon of Koler, the experiments of Libet and Multiple Personality Disorder. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2003 by Luc REYNAERT
I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who once remarked with pride that he was a generous literary putter-inner, while minimalists like Ernest Hemingway were stingy leaver-outers. Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2002 by Jeremy M. Harris
This book contains a great many words. Unfortunately, it contains only a very few ideas. This book could very well be contained in a 15 page white paper. Indeed it has. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2002 by Tom Gray
Dennett's book mainly serves to present his theory of consciousness, the Multiple Drafts Model. It should be called "The Multiple Drafts Model, and footnotes" rather... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2002