Phenomenology in absentia: Dennett's philosophy of mind


Authors
Mark Crooks
Michigan State University
Abstract
: Daniel Dennett's philosophical abolition of mind is examined with reference to its methodology, intent, philosophic origins, and internal consistency. His treatment of the contents of perception and introspection is shown to be derivative from realist reductionist misinterpretations of physics, physiology, and phenomenology of perception. In order to rectify inconsistencies of that realistic paradigm devolved from psycho-neural identity theory of mid-twentieth century, Dennett radicalizes its logic and redefines even veridical phenomenology of exteroception to be "illusory." This measure in extremis still does not save the appearances of his predecessors, nevertheless, for Dennett tacitly presupposes the existence of veridical phenomenology in his very treatment of non-veridical sensory phenomena that he uses to argue analogically from, to thereby suggest the plausibility of a parallel illusoriness of veridical phenomena of perception and introspection. This inhering inconsistency renders unsound Dennett's radical extension of the logic of identity theory, and ironically shows up the persistence of mental phenomenology that extant reductionism appears so desirous to argumentively eliminate. Nonetheless there is much to be learned from such an analysis of Dennett's purported elimination of mental contents, for a generalization of our critique throws light on the occult assumptions underlying realism and reductionism since early identity theory and its variants, and upon the possible viability of that programme as a whole., Someone does a sum in his head. He uses the result, let's say, for building a bridge or a machine[horizontal ellipsis]. There surely must have been calculation going on, and there was. For he knows that, and how, he calculated; and the correct result he got would be inexplicable without calculation.-But what if I said: "It strikes him as if he had calculated[horizontal ellipsis]." (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, [S] 364), My debt to Wittgenstein is large and longstanding. When I was an undergraduate, he was my hero[horizontal ellipsis]. I gave up trying to "be" a Wittgensteinian, and just took what I thought I had learned from the Investigations and tried to put it to work. ( Dennett, 1991, p. 463), (C) 2003 by the American Psychological Association
Keywords absentia   phenomenology   philosophy of mind   perception   introspection   Daniel Dennett   illsion
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DOI 10.1037/h0091230
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