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Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
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Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (Jean Nicod Lectures)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  254 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explained was published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories -- "so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of hi ...more
Paperback, 199 pages
Published September 8th 2006 by MIT Press (MA) (first published 2005)
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Greg
Something has been bugging me more and more about Dennett recently. The more I read about consciousness, whether it be from the perspective of neuroscience, philosophy, or psychology, the more I think there is a real question that needs to be answered about qualia. Qualia, the character of subjective experience. The redness of red. The smell of a rose. The feeling of anger or love, and the experience of pain. Chalmers dubbed this the "hard problem of consciousness", referring to the problem of e ...more
Leo Horovitz
After finishing Consciousness Explained recently and liking it very much, feeling convinced Dennett tackles the issues in the appropriate way, I felt a need to read this one next. Here, Dennett elaborates on his ideas that in order to understand consciousness, we need to take empirical findings seriously and if we do, we realize that there is no room for any center of consciousness in the brain. Rather, we find that activities are spread out over different areas having different functional roles ...more
Tim
Dennett certainly writes better than most academic philosophers. That's a pretty small achievement, but he gets there pretty comfortably.

I'm sympathetic to the spirit of his attempt to call off the search for some mysterious essence of consciousness, though I can't think clearly enough about it to accept or reject it.

I read about half of the book diligently and then - in the chapter "What RoboMary Knows" - I started getting a little bored, at which point I went into rapid skim mode.

Which would
...more
Rory
I was disappointed with this follow up to Dennett's landmark 'Consciousness Explained' (1991).

Compiled in 2004 from articles and lectures that he gave 8-13 years after this prior work, this is an interesting update. He revisits some of the debates that he has had with philosophers over since 'Consciousness Explained', but adds very little to his original thesis.

The main focus of this book is:
- defense of heterophenomenology as a method for investigating consciousness
- attack of the use of zombie
...more
Simon Lavoie
Le programme des premières sciences cognitives est de réhabiliter, contre le béhaviorisme, l'intentionalité, les croyances et la signification, en procédant dans les termes de la définition renouvelée des concepts mécanistes offerte par l'intelligence artificielle. Pour le fonctionnalisme computationnel avec lequel ce programme a largement coïncidé, chaque partie d'un système cognitif se définit par ce qu'elle accomplit en terme causal plutôt que par ses attributs matériels ("L'habit ne fait pas ...more
Joshua Stein
While Dennett's magnificent opus "Consciousness Explained" is still the crown jewel of his naturalist take on philosophy, Sweet Dreams is a well constructed follow up, a rebuttle to those who have taken issue with his almost undisputed masterpiece.

Dennett's writing is as sharp as ever, but there is something to be said of Sweet Dreams that cannot be said of Consciousness Explained: it is concise. The gift in writing non-fiction is to be able to get a point across simply, and Dennett does that wi
...more
Nathan
Dennett makes a compelling case against a number of widespread, non-optimistic philosophical objections to the third-person study of consciousness. It comes off as an advertisement for Dennett's long-standing blend of first and third-person study (heterophenomology) for consciousness research.

The collection comes recommended for those who already are familiar with the common philosophy of mind objections to mixing science and consciousness research. If you're unfamiliar with some of the classica
...more
Draco3seven Crawdady
Nov 01, 2007 Draco3seven Crawdady rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Western Cosmology
He is trying to equate science and scientific principles and takes on reality synonymously with the 3rd person concept and then universal reality. This move by Dennett is a sly illusiatory slide of the philosophic hand in this “philosophic” magic trick. He is sneakily trying to reduce universal reality and understanding to the 3rd person concept, then in turn reducing this to within the physicalist paradigm and then further down to scientific parameters. Of course all this trickery seems to be g ...more
Alex
Was a good followup to Consciousness Explained. If you were not convinced by the first book, this book is helpful. It makes some expansions on the original ideas, and covers some of the experiments that have been done since then. It also clarifies some meanings of words that from Dennett's point of view have been confusing since the philosophers were not using the same meanings that the scientists were.

It is much more of a reflection on the past and a defense against critics of the first book t
...more
Jon Silver
This is a good interesting book. I wish he spent more time actually discussing what it is that composes consciousness rather than arguing with philosophers about how consciousness doesn't have an intrinsic "specialness" to it. This is especially true in the second half of the book where he gets kind of repetitive and has clearly made his point shutting down the people that disagree with him.

Nonetheless really interesting, glad I read it, and not very long.
Jehan
I like Daniel Dennet. As a philosophy student, I study his work quite a bit, and have come to enjoy his pieces. He can be persuasive, in a funny way, but mainly his character is the sort that you know he is a philosopher. One of my professors who worked with him (they were subjects of a perception experiment) says he is very opinionated, and will argue with you to the death because he feels/knows he is "right". I think that translates in his work.
Joe
This is a collection of essays, talks and theories from throughout Dennett's career as a metaphysical materialist in theory of mind. He continues to be considered one of the world's foremost philosophers and cognitive theorists, and this book is an excellent survey of his thoughts of everything from qualia to free will.
Aaron
A concise and clever summary of the ongoing conflict between some philosophers (consciousness is mysterious) and neuroscientists (consciousness is physical and explainable).
Very agile writing but Dennett has a weakness for unnecessary double negatives which hurt my brain.
Jelle de Jong
zweert bij het scheermes van ockham, legt duidelijk (maar omslachtig) uit dat iets zich bewust kan zijn van zijn eigen denken, doet lacherig over mensen die daar anders over denken, voert eigenlijk alleen discussie met anderen materialisten, geeft toe (op; 0
Ohr
No Hard Problem? I can dig it, I never thought there was.
This books goes a long way toward showing why Dennett ranks near the top on my short list of favorite philosophers, despite our absolute disagreement over Free Will.
Courtney
Like most philosophy buffs I know or have read works by, this guy liked to explain himself explaining a little too much. Pretty sure this book could have been cut in half and still posses all the key points.
Krishan
This is the sequel to Consciousness Explained, which Im currently reading. The author responds to criticism of Consciousness Explained and incorporated some new neurological research into the theory.
Elizabeth
Another shovel in the dirt of the mire of discussion about meaning. Abandoned this book, as with another by this author, his writing style getting in my way to the subject matter?
Michael Vagnetti
Dennett debunks theories of consciousness that argue for a "magical residue" in the mind that cannot be explained by cognitive science. He's adept, but anecdotal and comic, too.
Dave Peticolas

Dennett's latest book on the philosophy of consciousness.

John
barely deserves the second star..
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8131960
"Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philoso ...more
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“Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.” 49 likes
“I find that some philosophers think that my whole approach to qualia is not playing fair. I don’t respect the standard rules of philosophical thought experiments. “But Dan, your view is so counterintuitive!” No kidding. That’s the whole point. Of course it is counterintuitive. Nowhere is it written that the true materialist theory of consciousness should be blandly intuitive. I have all along insisted that it may be very counterintuitive. That’s the trouble with “pure” philosophical method here. It has no resources for developing, or even taking seriously, counterintuitive theories, but since it is a very good bet that the true materialist theory of consciousness will be highly counterintuitive (like the Copernican theory--at least at first), this means that “pure” philosophy must just concede impotence and retreat into conservative conceptual anthropology until the advance of science puts it out of its misery. Philosophers have a choice: they can play games with folk concepts (ordinary language philosophy lives on, as a kind of aprioristic social anthropology) or they can take seriously the claim that some of these folk concepts are illusion-generators. The way to take that prospect seriously is to consider theories that propose revisions to those concepts.” 15 likes
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