That Special Something: Dennett on the Making of Minds and Selves

In Andrew Brook & Don Ross (eds.), Daniel Dennett. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187--205 (2002)

Authors
Andy Clark
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Dennett depicts human minds as both deeply different from, yet profoundly continuous with, the minds of other animals and simple agents. His treatments of mind, consciousness, free will and human agency all reflect this distinctive dual perspective. There is, on the one hand, the (in)famous Intentional Stance, relative to which humans, dogs, insects and even the lowly thermostat (e.g. Dennett (1998) p.327) are all pronounced capable of believing and desiring in essentially the same theoretical sense. And there is, on the other hand, a noteworthy (and increasing) insistence that human minds are special in that they exhibit a distinctive kind of “informational organization”: one that confers consciousness (Dennett (1998) p.347), and creates the space for agency, purpose, self-control (Dennett (1984) p.100), and “significant suffering” (Dennett (1998) p.351). What follows is a critical examination of this dual perspective, and of Dennett’s account of the key factor that makes us special - human language and our immersion in the sea of culture (Dennett (1998) p.146, (1996) p.130, (in press) p.7). In particular, I shall ask whether Dennett’s dual perspective masks a deeper tension in his accounts of consciousness and personhood, and whether the appeal to the transformative power of human language and culture can bear the heavy explanatory burden Dennett places upon it. These turn out to be significant challenges but ones which also help clarify the scope and power of this complex, multi-layered account. I end by commenting briefly on the wider significance of Dennett’s project as a major contribution to current debates concerning the continuity (or otherwise) of evolved cognitive strategies and the essentially hybrid (biological and non-biological) nature of human minds and persons
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2006
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,253
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Mind, Matter, Meaning and Information.Robin Faichney - 2013 - TripleC - Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation 11 (1):36-45.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Dennett on Free Will.Craig Ross - 2011 - Metaphysica 12 (2):137-149.
Daniel Dennett on the Nature of Consciousness.Susan Schneider - 2007 - In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell. pp. 313--24.
The Attentional Spotlight.Joanna J. Bryson - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (1):21-28.
Minds, Memes, and Rhetoric.Stephen R. L. Clark - 1993 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 36 (1-2):3-16.
Intuition Pumps.Jon Dorbolo - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (1):81-86.
Dennett on the Split-Brain.Roland Puccetti - 1993 - Psycoloquy 4 (52).
Dennett's Mind.Michael Lockwood - 1993 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 36 (1-2):59-72.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
350 ( #16,133 of 2,269,764 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #268,742 of 2,269,764 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature