I’ve made passing reference to two Daniel Dennett pieces in recent weeks, TL/DR effectively bookmarking them for deeper reading and review at some point. In fact with Twitter and PinBoard I bookmark a lot of items these days, that I rarely get a chance to return to. There, archived, for some future-if-ever writing project. As with libraries, such archives grow faster than it is ever possible to read them all. Which is no bad thing.
Even focussing “on-topic” with ever more connected topics, there is never a shortage of more urgent things to do, and the more important items pay the price. Not exactly urgent but time-sensitive, of the moment, stuff to consider whilst the social-media has our attention. ‘Twas ever thus. Clamour for attention. Basic time management.
Some of the bookmarking is also multi-pronged, one or more Twitter RT and a PinBoard pin or two and even the piece in question left open in live browsers on any number of devices, as a reminder this one really needs some attention before falling into the black hole of an archive. Net result; device and desktop clutter of open documents piling up. Lose-lose.
One such bookmark is the Dennett / Papineau exchange on From Bacteria to Bach and Back (B2BnB) introduced by Tim Crane in TLS – proper civilised discourse I contrasted with the escalating Beard / Taleb skirmish. Trump and Kim have nothing on them. (The original Papineau “Competence Without Comprehension” critique of Dennett’s B2BnB.)
Another is Dennett’s “the electronic age has triggered epistemological chaos” piece in Prospect on achieving the point of philosophical discourse. Was there ever a piece more “on-point”?
And this is a third one:
I introduce a complacency-shattering paper by David Haig, just turned down by MIND & LANGUAGE – Philsci-Archive https://t.co/XwGKQXIlDN
— Daniel Dennett (@danieldennett) July 31, 2017
With updated link to this version of the paper. Inversions of reasoning are a feature of Dennett’s work which is causing some puzzlement (and rejection). Re-grounding much science and evolutionary biology in information itself:
…. illustrates the unity of a radically revised set of definitions of the family of terms at the heart of philosophy of cognitive science and mind: information, meaning, interpretation, text, choice, possibility, cause. This biological re-grounding of much-debated concepts yields a bounty of insights into the nature of meaning and life.
So, there we have it, safely bookmarked and everything I need to say is in unpicking those few sentences. How long have we got?
[The words and orchestration of Wichita Lineman drifting through the air repeatedly this morning, reminds me it’s one of those songs of my youth to which I can recall pretty much all the words, every strain. Amidst the regular consumption of mid-70’s blues, rock and progressive bands, I was working in a bar for student pocket-money, and there was a selection of easier listening tapes that the bar staff rotated continuously. Glen Campbell (RIP) was one of them, and the memetic recall tells me Trini Lopez singing America from West Side Story was another. Never to be forgotten. Oh, and …]
[No, really, back soon.]
But before I do, this turned-up:
To me, “consciousness is an illusion” seems a perfectly reasonable thing to say about our mental ‘constructed realities’.
— i was id (@iwasid) August 10, 2017
I’ve addressed this before in my reading of B2BnB. He says consciousness is an illusion, in the same sense that the images in a computer UI are an illusion, in the sense that images are virtual in optical physics. All our models and images of reality are illusory in that sense, but they are still images of physical realities. The whole of physics as we know it is a model, mental construct (of reality) – a free-floating pattern of information in Dennett terms.
[To be continued, honest!]
The Papineau exchange with Dennett, introduced by Crane in the TLS, I’ve reviewed here. It’s excellent.
Also published on Medium.