Blog and Dennett Update

As mentioned in the previous post, I’ve had an enforced hiatus from blogging due to the relocation to Oslo. Two things to note:

(1) After doing some essential overhauls just before going offline in the US, I had added a “simpler” previous posts & archives link to the side-bar, and noted slowness in the rendering of the blog-pages, but I hadn’t noticed the connection. Thanks diagnostic help from Deamhost, I can see the problem and will fix soon, hopefully today. Apologies for the inconvenience, your patience is appreciated.

(2) Secondly, the day we left, a colleague in the US returned the last of 3 Dan Dennett books I’d lent him. “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” (1995). Re-reading it at every available moment travelling and waiting in the last week or so has reminded me why he is my favourite current philosopher. He’s an excellent scientist, philosopher and philsopher of science. He knows when he’s being philosophical, when he’s needing to be scientific, and has the patience of a saint to expose and explain counter arguments whilst recognizing that few have simple logical outcomes beyond the pragmatc “policy” of “significant value-adding” …. and the wit to pull it off.

I can see so many points of contact, that anything I write should be closely linked to Dennett. My whole agenda is a subset of Dennett’s I reckon.

A dense summary – Wherever the intelligence lies, causation, how things came to be the way they are, is an engineering question – creativity is a selection from available options, optimal only so far as permitted by current historical and environmental constraints – you can only ever get there from here. Intention is an explanatory stance in the observer’s hindsight, as if it were in the active participants. The whole thing is a narrative that works. That narrative is an organisation of semantics from available information, information itself being significant difference; Stasis, being or remaining the same is of lower interest, than difference or change. Value-adding is about adding significant value to the narrative. First-cause is simply the cause before the earliest one so far explained in the narrative, but is not in itself a reason to presume a miraculous sky-hook, except as a holiday from explaining and philosophising, and never a reason for a sky-hook as an alternative to a crane later in the engineering narrative.

3 thoughts on “Blog and Dennett Update”

  1. I can’t believe you came and went from the U.S. and we never met in person! Of course, we’re still as close as the Internet and email quality allow.
    Good luck in your new endeavors!
    Georganna @ A Writer’s Edge

  2. Hi Geo,

    We got to Calfornia, but never close enough to San Diego to suggest dropping by (that is where you live right ?) but I was looking out for opportunties. We did see a lot fo people and places – really enjoyed our 3 years in the US.

    As you say the internet is a small world anyway. The stock of “writing resources” keeps growing, as usual I just have to find the quality time to put in the serious effort needed. Don’t know much you’ve followed the blog, but I followed along with Mark Richardson’s writing and publishing project, and hopefully learned a few things about the process.

    Take care

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