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Monday, July 04, 2005

Lets hear it for folk theories....

Having completed the Dennett book, I am left to mull over the implications of his strong defense of physicalism and his latest version of the Multiple Drafts Model (MDM) that now turns on the comparison of emergent consciousness with political anarchy and "being famous". I remain a fan of the MDM approach, but the comparison with fame is instructive and useful for Dennet's purposes in this book.

Put simply, Dennett has always contended that consciousness is not an intrinsic "thing" per se, but rather quite literally a function of the various aspects of neurological operations that constantly contend for momentary predominance. It is a radical position which needs even more elaboration, but in Sweet Dreams he is preoccupied with countering the challenges coming from phenomenologists, the "zombie hunch", and the concepts of Qualia. In each instance he attempts to confront the challenge with both logic and calls for empirical evidence -- all the while noting that there is a growing body of evidence to back the materialist/funcitonalist perspective.

Finding myself basically attracted to Dennett's views, I risk undermining the foundations of much of what I study and teach -- or at the least I will have to engage in some serious rationalizations for continuing to use some of the models and conventional explanations (the 'folk theories') I apply in my work. But then again, don't we all....

In the meantime I am returning to some unfinished 'business' -- my reading of Onora O'Neill's Towards Justice and Virtue : A Constructive Account of Practical Reasoning. More to come....

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