Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
Dennett (Daniel)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Back Cover Blurb

  1. Minds are complex artifacts, partly biological and partly social; only a unified, multidisciplinary approach will yield a realistic theory of how they came into existence and how they work.
  2. One of the foremost workers in this multidisciplinary field is Daniel Dennett. This book brings together his essays on the philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence1, and cognitive ethology that appeared in inaccessible journals from 1984 to 1996.
  3. Highlights include:-
  4. Collected in a single volume, the essays are now available to a wider audience.

Preface
  1. The point of this collection is to bring together, for the convenience of students and other readers who do not have ready access to a major university library, essays on the mind that I have published over the last dozen years in a wide variety of relatively inaccessible publications. With one exception, these essays all appeared in conference volumes or in specialized journals that are often not found in undergraduate college libraries. Juxtaposing them has shown me patterns in the development of my own thinking that I myself had not recognized, uncovering both strengths and weaknesses in my positions, so I expect others will benefit from a clearer view as well.
  2. I have grouped the essays into four categories, but the boundaries between them are porous. All the essays belong to the philosophy of mind broadly conceived — as it ought to be these days — but I have bundled two groups that are directed more narrowly to topics in Artificial Intelligence2 and Artificial Life on the one hand, and ethology and animal psychology on the other, and added a final pair, one providing an overview and the other looking toward future work.

BOOK COMMENT:



"Dennett (Daniel) - Can Machines Think?"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Cognitive Ethology: Hunting for Bargains or a Wild Goose Chase"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Cognitive Science by Reverse Engineering: Several Meanings of 'Top-Down' and 'Bottom-Up'"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Cognitive Wheels: The Frame Problem of AI"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Also in "Boden (Margaret), Ed. - The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence"



"Dennett (Daniel) - Do Animals Have Beliefs?"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds


Author’s Introduction
  1. According to one more or less standard mythology, behaviorism, the ideology and methodology that reigned in experimental psychology for most of the century, has been overthrown by a new ideology and methodology: cognitivism.
    1. Behaviorists, one is told, did not take the mind seriously. They ignored – or even denied the existence of – mental states such as beliefs and desires, and mental processes such as imagination and reasoning; behaviorists concentrated exclusively on external, publicly observable behavior and the (external, publicly observable) conditions under which such behavior was elicited.
    2. Cognitivists, in contrast, take the mind seriously and develop theories, models, and explanations that invoke, as real items, these internal, mental goings-on. People (and at least some other animals) have minds after all; they are rational agents.
  2. Like behaviorists, cognitivists believe that the purely physical brain controls all behavior without any help from poltergeists or egos or souls, so what does this supposedly big difference come to? When you ask a behaviorist what the mind is, the behaviorist retorts, "What mind?" When you ask a cognitivist, the reply is, "The mind is the brain." Since both agree that it is the brain that does all the work, their disagreement looks at the outset to be merely terminological.
  3. When, if ever, is it right, or just perspicuous, to describe an animal's brain processes as thinking, deciding, remembering, imagining? This question suggests to some that the behaviorists may have been right about lower animals – perhaps about pigeons and rats, and certainly about frogs and snails; these simple brains are capable of nothing that should be dignified as properly "cognitive." Well, then, where do we "draw the line" and why?
  4. Do animals have beliefs? One of the problems with this question, which has provoked a lot of controversy among animal researchers and the ideologues of cognitive science, is that there is scant agreement on the meaning of the term "belief" as it appears in the question. "Belief" has come to have a special, non-ordinary, sense in the English of many (but not all) of these combatants: it is supposed by them to be the generic, least-marked term for a cognitive state.


COMMENT: See also Link.



"Dennett (Daniel) - Do-It-Yourself Understanding"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Dretske



"Dennett (Daniel) - Forward to Robert French, The Subtlety of Sameness"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Turing Test



"Dennett (Daniel) - Hosfstadter's Quest: A Tale of a Cognitive Pursuit"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Information, Technology, and the Virtues of Ignorance"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Ethical issues raised by Computer Technology ("we can do more, so we ought to do so …")



"Dennett (Daniel) - Instead of Qualia"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Julian Jaynes's Software Archeology"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT:



"Dennett (Daniel) - Out of the Armchair and into the Field"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Producing Future by Telling Stories"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Real Consciousness"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Real Patterns"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Also in "Lycan (William) - Mind and Cognition - An Anthology"



"Dennett (Daniel) - Review of Alan Newell, Unified Theories of Cognition"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Self-Portrait"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - The Logical Geography of Computational Approaches: A View from the East Pole"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - The Practical Requirements for Making a Conscious Robot"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - The Unimagined Preposterousness of Zombies: Commentary on Moody, Flanagan, and Polger"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds


Author’s Abstract
  1. Knock-down refutations are rare in philosophy, and unambiguous self-refutations arc even rarer, for obvious reasons, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over.
  2. Just such a boon is the philosophers' concept of a zombie, a strangely attractive notion that sums up, in one leaden lump, almost everything that I think is wrong with current thinking about consciousness. Philosophers ought to have dropped the zombie like a hot potato, but since they persist in their embrace, this gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on the most seductive error in current thinking.


COMMENT: Also see Link.



"Dennett (Daniel) - Two Contrasts: Folk Craft versus Folk Science, and Belief versus Opinion"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - When Philosophers Encounter Artificial Intelligence"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Dennett (Daniel) - Why Creative Intelligence Is Hard to Find: Commentary on Whiten and Byrne"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds



"Humphrey (Nicholas) & Dennett (Daniel) - Speaking for Our Selves: An Assessment of Multiple Personality"

Source: Dennett - Brainchildren - Essays on Designing Minds
COMMENT: Also in "Kolak (Daniel) & Martin (Raymond), Eds. - Self and Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues"



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