IN the last several years the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett has published two very large, interesting and influential books. The first, ''Consciousness Explained'' , aimed to account for all the phenomena of consciousness within the general theoretical framework set by current physics. It failed, of course, and came to be affectionately known as ''Consciousness Ignored. The second, ''Darwin's Dangerous Idea'' , set out to make the case for the theory of evolution even more irresistible than it already is, and it was right on target: vivid, ingenious and illuminating, if sometimes huffy and overpolemical. Now Dennett is advancing on free will.
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Preview — Freedom Evolves by Daniel C. Freedom Evolves by Daniel C. Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers "yes! Weaving a richly detailed narrative, Dennett explains in a series of strikingly original argum Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world?
Weaving a richly detailed narrative, Dennett explains in a series of strikingly original arguments—drawing upon evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, and philosophy—that far from being an enemy of traditional explorations of freedom, morality, and meaning, the evolutionary perspective can be an indispensable ally.
In Freedom Evolves , Dennett seeks to place ethics on the foundation it deserves: a realistic, naturalistic, potentially unified vision of our place in nature. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
Published January 27th by Penguin first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Freedom Evolves , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Freedom Evolves. Jul 02, Samir Rawas Sarayji rated it did not like it Shelves: non-fiction , dumped , philosophy.
I find it hard to digest holistic overview approaches when used by a philosopher to prove his point. Let me say at the outset that I never studied philosophy although I did study mathematical logic and I haven't read much in the field either, and that my criticism is that of a writer and an enthusiastic reader who's always curious.
The few classic philosophy texts that I've read in the past held me from start to finish, like a good novel doe pages into this book and I became utterly bored. The few classic philosophy texts that I've read in the past held me from start to finish, like a good novel does, and cajoled me into understanding where the philosopher is coming from and what it is he's trying to achieve. What I like about that is that the philosophy is argued within the realm of philosophy - logical thought arguments.
More modern approaches seem to be overly scientific in that they actually need to site latest developments or discoveries from the hard sciences such as physics or neurobiology to Like arguing for the sake of arguing within the parameters of the available knowledge in their field is.. I don't know if this is true, or a general shift in the field of modern philosophy, but reading it in these bestseller-type books is exceptionally boring to me.
Besides, the eastern civilizations have, for centuries, approached the 'big questions' holistically - and they've done a brilliant job at explaining the universe without the scientific method or modern technology. So if philosophers and scientists have an itch in their pants to need to tackle these grand cosmic questions using their western tools, at least write about it bearing in mind that I'm a pea brain who likes digestible chunks of information without repetition, over explanation, mathematics, references I mean, seriously, either stick to your academic papers or take a damn writing workshop if you insist on tormenting me with your rhetoric, you just might publish something worth reading outside academia.
View all 12 comments. Dec 15, Gendou rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , philosophy , skepticism. Dennett cuts through the baggage wrought by naval-gazing philosophers of the past and gets to the heart of the issue of free will. He shows that determinism is no enemy of free will. He disproves quantum consciousness. He justifies using the intentional stance in a deterministic universe, then uses this handy tool to explain when and how free will arises as an human adaptation.
He also defends the morality of investigating the scientific validity of free will. He also investigates some of the mor Dennett cuts through the baggage wrought by naval-gazing philosophers of the past and gets to the heart of the issue of free will. He also investigates some of the moral consequences that arise when we apply the tools of science to the problem of free will.
Jul 07, Neil rated it it was ok. I tend to defer to authors when reading a book by someone, you know, smarter than me, but I'm fairly certain that this is one of the worst books I've ever read. If you read and liked this book, email me or message me on this website or something. I never bother to write reviews, but I've trudged through this book for a month now, and I hated it, so I feel compelled to write my feelings somewhere, and I'd love to hear from someone who tells me I misunderstood.
Here's the book's central concern, an I tend to defer to authors when reading a book by someone, you know, smarter than me, but I'm fairly certain that this is one of the worst books I've ever read. Here's the book's central concern, and it's one of those things that I used to think about and worry about and then just stopped caring about because it's an insoluble waste of time: we all make decisions, or whatever, but who is "we?
But we didn't decide. The decision was made the second the universe started. Our consciousness is an illusion. I don't care to retype a lot of passages from Dennett's book, but here's what I think are a couple of key ones. From "Will the Future be like the Past? Very well, if you insist. Maybe there is a sense of possible in which Austin could not possibly have made that very putt, if determinism is true.
Now why on earth should we care about your question? I mean, I long since threw up my hands because who cares, but -- after reading, in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, an account of Dennett's interesting "skyhook v. The reason people wonder about all that is because people like to envision that we all know what good and bad is and that we make the choices ourselves, that we can blame Osama bin Laden for September 11 in a way we couldn't blame a comet falling through both towers.
Your insistence that you could answer is why I, and presumably anyone, picked up this book. Here is a piece of his conclusion from "'Thanks, I needed that'" in the last chapter, on p.
This is indeed an opportunity for a Self-Forming Action of the sort Kane draws to our attention, and we human beings are the only species that is capable of making them, but there is no need for them to be undetermined. If someone wants to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, whence that? Was it not in their genes, maybe roused in them by inspiring speeches from their father or encouraging notes from a teacher? Would they not likely have turned out differently if they'd been starved in a basement and beaten all their lives?
I just don't get it. So many things he wrote seemed so obtuse that I wondered if I was simply stupid to not understand them. The whole "Life World" thing?
I mean, just because it appears to us, in taking a large-scale view, that things are happening differently on this large scale, does not mean that it isn't simply happening according to the laws we impose, in the same way that us feeling consciousness does not mean we are somehow disobeying the law of physics. And then there's the whole quantum indeterminacy thing. I can't say anything about this, but neither, it seems to me, does Dennett. Dennett doesn't ally with the libertarians who just use this as a way to say "see we're totally free because scientists can't pinpoint electrons" but it still hangs there as his only possible exception to physical laws governing the universe.
I guess I could go on, but it'd just be a random jumble of thoughts on the various claims he makes throughout the book.
Perhaps you can claim that my random jumble shows I didn't understand the book, but I'd say my thoughts are like that because the book's in such disarray. Seriously, if anyone out there really liked this book or wishes to tell me how I'm wrong, I'd be eager to hear from you. I gave the book two stars because Dennett is obviously deeply intelligent and widely-read and thoughtful and it's not a useless read like an awful novel; though I disliked like the book itself, I don't think it was a complete waste of time, per se.
View all 8 comments. Jul 07, Thermalsatsuma rated it it was amazing Shelves: book-a-week We live in a deterministic universe. Drop an apple and it will reliably fall to the ground, knock a snooker ball or an atom into another one at a particular speed and angle and you can predict the paths of both of them.
Even the strange sub-atomic quantum realm operates within areas of probability that average out to give us the predictable effects that we can measure on larger scales. As Douglas Hofstadter argues in ' Godel, Escher, Bach ' our brains are composed of neurons with the simple funct We live in a deterministic universe. As Douglas Hofstadter argues in ' Godel, Escher, Bach ' our brains are composed of neurons with the simple function of switching off and on in response to the inputs from their neighbours and thus can be considered as formal systems acting in a deterministic fashion.
Determinism implies that given a particular configuration of particles in the universe including the states of the neurons in our brains there is only one possible state that the system can advance at the next tick of the cosmic clock.
How can the absolute inevitability of all things be reconciled with the sense of free will that we all experience? It's a tricky question, and one that Dennett does not shy away from confronting in this book.
Evolution Explains It All for You
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Daniel C. Dennett's Freedom Evolves tackles the most important question of human existence - is there really such a thing as free will? How can humans make genuinely independent choices if we are just a cluster of cells and genes in a world determined by scientific laws? Here, Daniel Dennett provides an impassioned defense of free will. But rather than freedom being an eternal, unchanging condition of our existence, in reality, he reveals, it has evolved: just like life on the planet and the air we breathe. Evolution is the key to resolving this greatest of philosophical questions - and to understanding our place in the world as uniquely free agents. Dennett shows that far from there being an incompatibility between contemporary science and the traditional vision of freedom and morality, it is only recently that science has advanced to the point where we can see how we came to have our unique kind of freedom.
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If natural selection had been discovered in India, China or Japan, it is hard to imagine it making much of a stir. Darwin's discovery signalled a major advance in human knowledge, but its cultural impact came from the fact that it was made in a milieu permeated by the Judaeo-Christian belief in human uniqueness. If — along with hundreds of millions of Hindus and Buddhists — you have never believed that humans differ from everything else in the natural world in having an immortal soul, you will find it hard to get worked up by a theory that shows how much we have in common with other animals. Among us, in contrast, it has triggered savage and unending controversy. In the 19th century, the conflict was waged between Darwinists and Christians. Now, the controversy is played out between Darwinism and humanists, who seek to defend a revised version of Western ideas about the special nature of humans.