Author Profile
Figures in Literature and Science

Daniel Dennett

b. 1942, Boston, MA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background:  

Dennett was born to Daniel (historian and diplomat) and Ruth (editor and teacher) Dennett. He was married at the age of 20 to Susan Bell and had two children shortly after. His education however, was not halted by either his marriage or children. He graduated from Harvard University, BA (cum laude) in 1963. In 1965 he attained his Doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. His career has been wide and varied. He lectured in Oxford in 1964-65. He was an assistant professor at UC Irvine from 1970-71. He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard, All Souls College, Michigan and a variety of others. However, most of his time has been spent at Tufts University in many different departments and in many different capacities.

Principle Texts:

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology, 1978.

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting, 1984.

Content and Consciousness, 1986.

Consciousness Explained, 1991.

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, 1995.

Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds 1984-1996, 1998.

Impact:  

Dennett is interested in consciousness. He is best known for his multitude of articles on various aspects of the mind. He is also known as the leading proponent of the computational modal of the mind. He is the philosopher of choice for the AI community, maintaining that intentionality and quality can be computed. His philosophy and impact on the scientific and philosophic community is best explained by a direct quote from a recent interview. "Computers keep you honest in a way that philosophers have been hankering about for a long time...Computers force you to get clear about things it's really important to get clear about. AI is really a new and better way of doing sorts of philosophy."

 

 

 

 

References:

Contemporary Authors Online, The Gale Group, 2000.

Dennett's bio at www.edge.org 

Dennett's home page 

Interview with Atlantic Monthly

 

Prepared by:
CS, Spring 2002

 

 

 


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