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Skip to 0 minutes and 27 seconds Within the chapter of genome and determinism, we are going to talk by video conference to Daniel Dennett, the author of Breaking the spell, freedom evolves y Darwin’s dangerous idea. He is university professor and Austin Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He’s currently a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe institute. He’s author of many scholar articles, on very different aspects of mind; published in very, very kinds of journals. His most recent book is From bacteria to bach and back. The evolution of minds, note the plural. He supports a materialist theory of mind and aims to provide a materialist account of evolutionary origin of human mind and consciousness.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 seconds In this interview, we are going to focus on some of the concepts that Dan Dennett has been discussing in his publications and in his vibrating talks, The natural nature, The base of consciousness y The duality of free will determinism. Dan, why Darwin’s ideas were so dangerous? They were dangerous because they hit the world without much preparation. I like to compare it to what happened in Sweden not so many years ago. They switched from driving on the left as in the United Kingdom, to driving on the right. You may think, “what a catastrophic thing to do, they did it all on a single weekend, there must have been a lot of accidents”.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 seconds There weren’t, because the Swedish Civil Service did a brilliant job of preparing people for. So, it was an almost accident free transition. If the Swedish Civil Service could have prepared the world for Darwin, it might have been fine; but in fact, everybody was driving on the left, and then Darwin came along and say “no, no, you have that backwards” you got to drive on the other side. And, people at first say “Well, ok, we’ll give you natural selection of plants and animals; but we got to stop somewhere, we can’t include the mind, the soul, the immortal soul of human beings, that can’t be a product of natural selection.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds So it’s… that’s the most obvious resistance, is religious, or more practically, perhaps we might say, it’s tradition. It’s… even people who are not religious may believe that there is something super special and supernatural about their minds… and the idea, that evolutionary processes, blind and mechanical processes could explain their minds… is repugnant to them. That’s what the idea is, and these people get very worried about it.

Conversation with Dan Dennett. Part 1

Daniel Dennett, Austin Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University

He supports a materialist theory of mind and aims to provide a materialist account of the evolutionary origins of the human mind and consciousness.

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Why Biology Matters: The Genome and You

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona