Kinds of Minds by Daniel C Dennett Term Paper
- Length: 12 pages
- Subject: Literature
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #50637798
Excerpt from Term Paper :
The fields of literature and research are the ever-flourishing disciplines. With various researchers, experts and other prominent figures including writers producing remarkable works based on extensive research, expertise, experience and relentless efforts, literature is making unmeasured and unbelievable advancement with every sketching moment. Like many writers, one personality that has made a mark in the western literature and one name that often emerges in research and literature pertaining to human mind and behavior is Daniel C. Dennett. The following passage of our research paper will present an overview of the renowned writer of the marvelous book, The Kinds of Minds: Towards an understanding of Consciousness.
Overview of the author
Educational Qualifications and Teaching Career:
Daniel C. Dennett was born in 1942 in the city of Boston at a historian's place. After receiving schooling in the hometown, he completed his B.A. In philosophy in 1963 from the prestigious institute of Harvard (Dennett's Home Page). He further did D.Phil in philosophy under the supervision of Gilbert Ryle, from the University of Oxford in 1965 and started his teaching career from U.C. Irvine in the same year. In 1971, he left for Tufts University and is an integral part of the faculty ever since apart from serving the Universities of Harvard, Pittsburgh, Oxford and the Ecole Normal Superieur in Paris as one of the visiting faculty members. (Dennett's Home Page)
His articles have been published in scholarly journals as reputed as the journals of Artificial Intelligence and Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Poetics Today and the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (Dennett's Home Page). In addition to writing over hundred erudite research articles pertaining to multifaceted human brain, he has produced various well-written masterpieces on human brain and it's functioning. (Dennett's Home Page)
Books Written on Human Mind:
Daniel Dennett's initial book Content and Consciousness, which, was published in 1969, turned out to be a major success from where the writer embarked on an odyssey that unfolded his strong writing skills and assisted him in proving his depth of knowledge regarding the human mind (Dennett's Home Page). Dennett also wrote Brainstorms (1978), Elbow Room (1984), The Intentional Stance (1987), Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995) and Kinds of Minds (1996) (Dennett's Home Page). Furthermore, with the assistance of Douglas Hofstadter, he also came up with another magnum opus by the title The Mind's I in 1981. His book, Brainchildren: A Collection of Essays 1984-1996 (MIT Press) that appeared in 1997 enhanced Dennett's reputation as a writer and an expert on human psychology and brain. (Dennett's Home Page)
Lectures and Fellowships:
Apart from various other lectures, Dennett also conducted the "John Locke Lectures at Oxford in 1983, the Gavid David Young Lectures at Adelaide, Australia, in 1985 and the Tanner Lecture at Michigan in 1986 (Dennett's Home Page). He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987." (Dennett's Home Page)
In addition to the above, Daniel C. Dennett Co-founded the Curricular Software Studio of the University of Tufts in 1985 and also took the credit graciously for being the Co-director of the same (Dennett's Home Page). Furthermore, Dennett also extended his helping hand in designing the museum exhibitions using the computer technology for the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Science in Boston and the Computer Museum in Boston. (Dennett's Home Page)
Dennett to date serves the Tufts University as Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies. He lives with his wife, daughter, son and a grandson in North Andover, Massachusetts. Sailing is one of his all-time favorite hobbies apart from shaping sculptures (Dennett's Home Page). He also owns a farm in Maine, where he appreciates spending all his summers for harvesting "blueberries, hay and timber" (Dennett's Home Page). In addition to the exhaustive list of activities partaken by the versatile writer, he also produces Normandy cider wine (Dennett's Home Page).
The subsequent part of the research paper will present the summary of the book under consideration, that is, The Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness by Daniel C. Dennett.
Part II: Summary of the Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness
The book is divided into six organized chapters with the first chapter answering the question, "What kinds of minds are there?" moving onto chapter two, which discusses the foremost theme of the book, intentionality as observed by the author. The third chapter talks about "The Body and its Minds" (Dennett). The subsequent chapter highlights the reasons for "How Intentionality came into Focus." The fifth chapter is based on human brain's ability to think and develop concepts thereby entitling the chapter as "Creation of Thinking" (Dennett). The sixth and the last chapter wraps the entire book most skillfully and provides a thought provoking conclusion under the title "Our Minds and Other Minds." (Dennett)
Daniel Dennett, a renowned philosophic figure based his book Kinds of Minds on the concept of intentionality and brain functioning of humans and how it differs and is better than the brain of the animals. By determining and discussing the various levels of intentionality, the author probes into the deeper levels of various kinds of minds functioning distinctly with common functions and responsibilities. However, intentionality can be best defined by a single word "aboutness," "it is being about something else, not necessarily in the manner that the English "intentional" word means" (Daniel Dennett). The author considers all human beings and some non-living things as intentional systems where intentional stance is applied in order to determine the brain functioning by gauging the desires and convictions. The philosopher is of the view that "adopting the intentional stance," that is examining the behavior and its modifications in humans, animals as well as in non-living things, "helps us both highlight the evolution from our ancestors' foggy consciousness to today's mind and differentiate our mind from the mind of other beings" (Daniel Dennett).
In his book, the author contemplates the notion that human beings are sensitive to communication but the brain is not cognizant thereby maintaining that humans can feel but are not aware of their surroundings in reality. Furthermore, Dennett theorizes the unique idea that the distributed sagacity due to the process of evolution, growth and change in all creatures who are guided and governed by their creator's, the wisdom is scattered all over the body (Daniel Dennett). Hence, speculating that it is not the brain that dictates the bodily organs but the human development equips all parts to perform their tasks automatically for every body component receives wisdom apart from brain. In addition to the above, Dennet believes that it is this apportioning of wisdom that results in the malfunctioning of the brain followed by a gradual sluggishness and procrastination in other parts of the body. The author in his later chapters presents his analysis of the brain that the information transmitted to various parts of a body by the Darwinian process does not have to be repeated by the brain. However, "a brain can analyze the environment on a broader scale, can control movement in a much faster way and can predict behavior over a longer range" (Daniel Dennett).
Dennett also believes that all information-seeking components of a system form various intentional systems and get in order to be powerful enough to produce and work towards the common goal of improving the future. In order to "produce for the future" (Daniel Dennett), different steps determine distinct stages of intentionality thereby displaying altered kinds of minds. Step one is where varied creatures having different abilities are defined as well as examined by different philosophers, holding different opinions followed by stark opposite explanations. All of these philosophers observe humans and animals from different angles of their multifaceted being. They focus on one of the aspects. Each of these creatures was classified on the basis of varied levels of intentionalities, representing different kinds of minds. For instance: Darwinian Creatures were selected on their ability to endure the test proceedings on the grounds of trial and error (Daniel Dennett). "Skinnirean Creatures were chosen on their capability to manage to survive. These creatures were capable of searching and narrowing down only the best possible action to sustain their living (conditioning overcame the genetic trial and error of Darwinian creatures) (Daniel Dennett). Moreover, there were two other kinds of creatures with different abilities and tactics to survive and thrive in the environment around them and presented different types of minds (Daniel Dennett). Hence the third kind was the "Popperian creatures, which can play an action internally in a simulated environment before they perform it in the real environment and can therefore reduce the chances of negative effects (information about the environment supplements conditioning)" (Daniel Dennett). The fourth and the last division on the basis of ability to survive, constituted the "Gregorian creatures" who…