Dennett, Daniel C. Freedom Evolves

ISBN 13: 9780142003848

Freedom Evolves

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9780142003848: Freedom Evolves

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.

'A serious book with a brilliant message'
  Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen

'Powerful and ingenious ... The definitive argument that the human mind is a product of evolution'
  John Gray, Independent

'A book of sparkling brio and seemingly effortless panache ... Dennett at his best is as good as it gets'
  Spectator

Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world. A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies, and an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. His books include Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Breaking the Spell, Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Freedom Evolves.

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Daniel Dennett's latest book Freedom Evolves continues the themes that have become his trademark in previous titles such as Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea. His task is to give a thorough account of how we--and our minds--evolved and to calm fears that such an account presents a threat to the concept of free will.

In one of the most arresting and important chapters in the book, Dennett lays bare several common misconceptions about determinism and introduces a toy model which demonstrates how simple, mindlessly deterministic automata appear to make rational 'choices' to avoid harm in their limited environment. Dennett claims that misunderstanding of determinism is still prevalent among scientists and philosophers who subsequently misrepresent his views as they continue to resist a materialistic treatment of mind. Their fear is that if we should ever be revealed to be 'mere machines' this will bring with it a death sentence to consciousness and free-will. Such fears resist Dennett's argument as wrong and an insult to our sense of human dignity. After carefully addressing those fears, Dennett goes on to show how we humans can be both a creation of and a creator of culture; arguing that we are of course a species of animal but the emergence of human culture is a major innovation in evolutionary history providing our species with new tools to use, new topics to think about and new perspectives to think from.

What makes Dennett such an unforgettably stimulating philosopher is not just the breadth of his inter-disciplinary knowledge or his boldness and originality, it is that--knowing how difficult it is to get people to accept counter-intuitive ideas--he helps the reader visualise his materialistic/naturalistic world-view. There is undoubtedly still work to do to reconcile the philosophical implications of Darwinian materialism and what makes Dennett genuinely important is that he is set on trying to bring our precious values, including the notion of freedom, into line with Darwin and new found scientific discoveries.

He is encouraging us to drop the self-image we inherited from Christianity and the Western philosophical tradition with all its argument about a special extra added ingredient called consciousness that is unique to humans. Sure we have consciousness, but there's no magic in it, says Dennett. What we need, what Dennett is offering us, is a new improved self-image. Just because there isn't a self to be found sitting inside our brains looking out into the world and making decisions doesn't mean the self is an illusion.

There are other, better ways to think about the self, he stresses. He also argues that even though we are made of tiny mindless little robots that are oblivious to our hopes and needs, there's no shame in that and no reason for alarm. What we are made of and what we can hope and strive for are different things. Freedom Evolves is the culmination of three decades worth of research. --Larry Brown

Review:

?Dennett has taken on really big issues, made them clear, dealt with them seriously and given us much on which to reflect. . . . Crisp and critically insightful.? ("The Washington Post Book World") One of the most original thinkers of our time.? ("Science")

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Book Description Penguin Books, 2004. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers "yes!" Using an array of provocative formulations, Dennett sets out to show how we alone among the animals have evolved minds that give us free will and morality. 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. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0142003840

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Book Description Penguin Publishing Group, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers yes! Using an array of provocative formulations, Dennett sets out to show how we alone among the animals have evolved minds that give us free will and morality. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142003848

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Book Description Penguin Publishing Group, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers yes! Using an array of provocative formulations, Dennett sets out to show how we alone among the animals have evolved minds that give us free will and morality. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780142003848

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