Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

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MIT Press, 2005 - Philosophy - 199 pages
Winner in the Psychology & Cognitive Science catagory of the 2005 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc. In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explainedwas published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories—"so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of his theory of consciousness, taking into account major empirical advances in the field since 1991 as well as recent theoretical challenges. In Consciousness Explained, Dennett proposed to replace the ubiquitous but bankrupt Cartesian Theater model (which posits a privileged place in the brain where "it all comes together" for the magic show of consciousness) with the Multiple Drafts Model. Drawing on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, he asserted that human consciousness is essentially the mental software that reorganizes the functional architecture of the brain. In Sweet Dreams, he recasts the Multiple Drafts Model as the "fame in the brain" model, as a background against which to examine the philosophical issues that "continue to bedevil the field." With his usual clarity and brio, Dennett enlivens his arguments with a variety of vivid examples. He isolates the "Zombic Hunch" that distorts much of the theorizing of both philosophers and scientists, and defends heterophenomenology, his "third-person" approach to the science of consciousness, against persistent misinterpretations and objections. The old challenge of Frank Jackson's thought experiment about Mary the color scientist is given a new rebuttal in the form of "RoboMary," while his discussion of a famous card trick, "The Tuned Deck," is designed to show that David Chalmers's Hard Problem is probably just a figment of theorists' misexploited imagination. In the final essay, the "intrinsic" nature of "qualia" is compared with the naively imagined "intrinsic value" of a dollar in "Consciousness—How Much is That in RealMoney?"
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TomSlee - LibraryThing

Essays that are based on Dennett's brilliant "Consciousness Explained" (CE). If you've not read CE, I'd probably suggest not reading this. Dennett is as prickly and full of insights as ever, but the ground covered is pretty close to CE, so I'm only giving it 3 stars because it lacks novelty. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

A not-overly-long "revision and renewal" of DCD's view of consciousness. Zombies, qualia, "the hard problem," etc are all (says he) incoherent concepts; heterophenomenology's the thing. Read full review

Contents

The Zombic Hunch Extinction of an Intuition?
1
2 The Reactionaries
8
3 An Embarrassment of Zombies
13
4 Broad Functionalism and Minimalism
17
5 The Future of an Illusion
22
A ThirdPerson Approach to Consciousness
25
2 Folk Theories and Philosophy
31
3 Heterophenomenology Revisited
35
1 Mary and the Blue Banana
104
2 Surely Shell Be Surprised
107
3 You Had to Be There
116
4 RoboMary
122
5 Locked RoboMary
126
Are We Explaining Consciousness Yet?
131
2 Competition for Clout
136
3 Is There Also a Hard Problem?
143

4 David Chalmers as Heterophenomenological Subject
47
5 The SecondPerson Point of View
49
Explaining the Magic of Consciousness
57
1 the Thankless Task of Explaining Magic
58
2 Dismantling the Audience
69
3 The Tuned Deck
72
Are Qualia What Make Life Worth Living?
77
2 Change Blindness and a Question about Qualia
82
3 Sweet Dreams and the Nightmare of Mr Clapgras
91
What RoboMary Knows
103
4 But What about Qualia?
151
5 Conclusion
157
A Fantasy Echo Theory of Consciousness
159
1 Fleeting Fame
160
2 Instant Replay
167
Consciousness How Much Is That in Real Money?
173
References
179
Index
189
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Born in Boston in 1942, Daniel Clement Dennett explores the philosophical links between mind and brain. His first book, Content and Consciousness (1969) was one of the earliest to examine this issue. It is one that he expands on in his other books, including Consciousness Explained (1991), where he uses philosophical "materialism" to examine the link between mind and body. Dennett is a Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor, a Professor of Philosophy and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University in Medford Mass. He is interested in the development of artificial intelligence, was the co-founder of the Curricular Software Studio at Tufts, and has aided in the design of computer exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Science in Boston and the Computer Museum in Boston.

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