Daniel Dennett Presents the 4 Biggest Ideas in Philosophy in One of His Final Videos (RIP)

A week ago, Big Think released this video fea­tur­ing philoso­pher Daniel Den­nett talk­ing about the four biggest ideas in phi­los­o­phy. Today, we learned that he passed away at age 82. The New York Times obit­u­ary for Den­nett reads: “Espous­ing his ideas in best sell­ers, he insist­ed that reli­gion was an illu­sion, free will was a fan­ta­sy and evo­lu­tion could only be explained by nat­ur­al selec­tion.” “Mr. Den­nett com­bined a wide range of knowl­edge with an easy, often play­ful writ­ing style to reach a lay pub­lic, avoid­ing the impen­e­tra­ble con­cepts and turgid prose of many oth­er con­tem­po­rary philoso­phers. Beyond his more than 20 books and scores of essays, his writ­ings even made their way into the the­ater and onto the con­cert stage.”

Above, Den­nett, a long-time phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor at Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty, out­lines the “four eras he evolved through on his own jour­ney as a philoso­pher: clas­si­cal phi­los­o­phy, evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry, memet­ic the­o­ry, and the inten­tion­al stance. Each stage added depth to his per­spec­tive and under­stand­ing… Dennett’s key take­away is a request for philoso­phers to reeval­u­ate their method­olo­gies, urg­ing mod­ern-day thinkers to embrace the insights offered by new sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies. By com­bin­ing the exis­ten­tial and the­o­ret­i­cal view­points of philoso­phers with the ana­lyt­i­cal and evi­den­tial per­spec­tive of sci­en­tists, we can begin to ful­ly and accu­rate­ly inter­pret the world around us.”

To help you delve a lit­tle deep­er into Daniel Den­net­t’s world, we’ve also post­ed below a vin­tage TED video where the philoso­pher dis­cuss­es the illu­sion of con­scious­ness. We would also encour­age you to explore the Den­nett items in the Relat­eds below.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Daniel Den­nett Presents Sev­en Tools For Crit­i­cal Think­ing

How to Argue With Kind­ness and Care: 4 Rules from Philoso­pher Daniel Den­nett

Daniel Den­nett and Cor­nel West Decode the Phi­los­o­phy of The Matrix

Hear What It Sounds Like When Philoso­pher Daniel Dennett’s Brain Activ­i­ty Gets Turned into Music

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Comments (3)
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  • Dibakar Sahoo says:

    Phi­los­o­phy thoughts are incom­pat­i­ble with oth­ers con­cepts, when we have no words for our sat­is­fac­tion and the sit­u­a­tion we wor­ried what to do at the time we looks such knowl­edge and we are sure we can find out the solu­tion, but now it’s not pos­si­ble, thou I think it’s venise and mate­r­i­al mat­ter covering,as a human being we should be accept phi­los­o­phy and this is a good deci­sion by the real real­is­ing per­son, and their opin­ions we nev­er denied and we sure,we can able to get results

  • Colin Bloom says:

    I am an artist, very ear­ly on I real­ized that I an deal­ing with illu­sions, whether it is about after image or that colour can con­jure up a smell! So Mr. Den­net’s talk did not go any­where near far enough for me. In my research, in order to under­stand how I can make illu­sions and how I con­jure up images in my brain it has been fun work­ing out how our the brain does it. How it is done is a no brain­er! No Mag­ic! Unfor­tu­nate­ly the lec­ture did not delve in to mech­a­nisms of recog­ni­tion and aware­ness. Of course we all hear that real­i­ty is dif­fer­ent for each one of us. But the reed­u­ca­tion and devel­op­ment of our real­i­ties is on going, but why? So many inter­est­ing avenues. Hap­py hunt­ing.

  • Rod Stasick says:

    The idea that we need tech­nol­o­gy to alert us to tech­nol­o­gy feed­ing us false­hoods is so cir­cu­lar — and then, on top of that, to state that we then need laws in order to pre­vent this expe­ri­ence of being pre­sent­ed with coun­ter­feit info just push­es us even fur­ther into the jaws of gov­ern­ment babysit­ting. There are soci­eties that are much more secure in their grasp of their own men­tal mal­leabil­i­ty, that they have learned, start­ing at a very young age, how to meet the chal­lenges of those (and “that” in the case of non-human info-seed­ers) who would incor­rect­ly inform them. That’s the real test. Bring back some of the old­er edu­ca­tion mod­els and begin look­ing toward the future adding new mod­els.

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