Here is another in the CONVERSATION AT EDGE series, in this instance a conversation with the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett. He is perhaps best known in cognitive science for his concept of intentional systems, and his multiple drafts (or “fame in the brain”) model of human consciousness, which sketches a computational architecture for realizing the stream of consciousness (the “Joycean machine”) in the massively parallel cerebral cortex.
His uncompromising computationalism has been opposed by philosophers such as John Searle and Jerry Fodor who maintain that the most important aspects of consciousness — intentionality and subjective quality — can never be computed. He is the philosopher of choice of the AI community.
He is also a major contributor to the understanding of the conceptual foundations of evolutionary biology. In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, he argued that the “universal acid” of evolutionary explanation extends well beyond biology to re-conceptualize culture and science itself, and exposed some of the internal conflicts and misconstruals in the contrary claims of Stephen Jay Gould.
Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor, Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Content and Consciousness; Brainstorms; Elbow Room; The Intentional Stance; Consciousness Explained; Darwin’s Dangerous Idea; Kinds of Minds; Brainchildren; Freedom Evolves; Sweet Dreams; and Breaking the Spell.
To watch all the Dennett conversations, please click here.
To watch all the CONVERSATIONS AT EDGE, please click here.
John Brockman is Editor and Publisher at Edge. To learn more about the organization from him, please click here.