Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness
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Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  839 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Combining ideas from philosophy, artificial intelligence, and neurobiology, Daniel Dennett leads the reader on a fascinating journey of inquiry, exploring such intriguing possibilities as: Can any of us really know what is going on in someone else’s mind? What distinguishes the human mind from the minds of animals, especially those capable of complex behavior? If such anim...more
Paperback, Science Masters Series, 192 pages
Published June 12th 1997 by Basic Books (first published 1996)
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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I listened to this via audio book format as read wonderfully by Dennett himself. Last night/early morning I woke up abruptly in the grip of a vague sort of existential terror and once I got my footing again, I felt a type of comfort in hearing Dennett's calm yet extremely engaged and enthusiastic voice--explaining complex things about the improbable evolution of sentient beings--emerging from the tiny speakers of my laptop.

At first, I was seized by a thought like, "I don't want to hear about th...more
Riku Sayuj
Feb 08, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Richard Dawkins
Raises very potent questions but answers almost none. Dennett is content with showing 3-4 potential ways of looking at any question and then telling us that to go beyond is a challenge even for modern science.

The arguments are smooth and the book gives a good evolutionary understanding of the way we frame thoughts and ascribe consciousness. The model of mind that Dennett has created is a bit dated for me, but I enjoyed the long range perspective he brought into it. the section on dogs was proba...more
Greg
Dan Dennett wrote a fairy tale. No really.

It begins a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (think about it). And it's a beautiful story about minds...all kinds of minds.

Dennett tell us a story through space and time that explains not only the evolution of minds from simple molecules, but of the evolution of minds in the developing human. Along the way he tackles intentionality and representation, and the importance of relative time frames and language. Not only does he explain difficult phi...more
Gendou
A nice, short book that examines the philosophy of mind, consciousness.
One theme is exploring what sets humans apart, and what we have in common with other animals.
Another theme is the moral issue of pain and suffering.
I wouldn't say this book is very mind-blowing, no outrageous conclusions are reached.
Instead, Dennett presents a useful re-framing of common questions, as philosophers are oft to do.
The book's thesis might be that consciousness, as we know it, inherits from the language instinct.
D...more
Rakan
ما هو الوعي؟ ما الفرق بين وعي الانسان والحيوان والنباتات والكائنات الدقيقة؟

في هذا الكتاب يُعرف الفيلسوف دانييل دينيت الوعي ويتحدث عن تطوره من الكائنات الدقيقة الأولى إلى ما نراه الآن في الانسان والقردة العليا والكائنات الأخرى التي تشابهها في درجة الوعي

يتطرق دينيت إلى ما يسميه بـ(الحالة المتعمدة) أو (المقصودة) وهي طريقة رائعة تجعلنا ننظر إلى الوعي من زاوية مختلفة تماماً، تقارب بين الكائنات "الواعية" و"غير الواعية"ـ

الكتاب لا يجيب على الكثير من الأسئلة لكنه بلا شك يفتح الباب لفهم الوعي والإدراك
Chris Rock
I think I'm going to have to listen to this one again. This book was my first introduction to thinking about consciousness and the definition of "mind". As such it was pretty good. I found a lot of the arguments compelling and convincing.

The ending snuck up on me--I was a little surprised when it finished, as I felt that we had barely scratched the surface of the topic.

Recommended for anyone interested in understanding how we can determine what makes an organism sentient.
Panteha
According to Daniel Dennett, even though we would like to think that non-human species are thinking beings, there are different degrees of sentience. In a nutshell, intentionality is what separates the higher order beings from those who are incapable of keeping secretes for example, verbal communication, and acquiring and reflecting on concepts. In combing through this question, he invokes everyone from Socrates to Skinner.
Richard
makes you wonder and thats about it. Consiousness is a deep concept that is not easily guessed at or scientifically understood. Dennett brings up some interesting and fascinating ideas but thats all they are.
Kevin
Quick read with some interesting points about the differences between one animal and another ... and human animals, too. Instinctual minds, conditioned minds, behavior-based minds, and hypothesizing minds. Each of these are different levels and capable of different things, but also limited in certain ways.

The author has a nice piece about pain vs suffering which I particularly enjoyed. It especially went well with some other reading I've not too distantly read, such as Eating Animals. Puts an an...more
Joaquin
This is a very accessible book, which is probably why I didn't enjoy it much. It raises a lot of questions, answers almost none, and deals with it in a very easy to understand language and never gets too technical. I feel that the simplicity in which he expressed his ideas is not a good way to deal with the complexity of the themes underneath.

For a first book on consciousness, starting to explore the themes, it's a good book. If you have read some more about it, I wouldn't recommend it. "Godel,...more
JJVid
"This book began with a host of questions, and -- since this is a book by a philosopher -- it ends not with the answers, but, I hope, with better versions of the questions themselves." p 168.

This is an important caveat for those hoping, upon picking up this book, to find a definite and unblurred demarcation between "conscious" or "sentient" beings. Dennett offers no quick and easy answer, but he does offer a compelling perspective in which to view this question under a different light.

The crux...more
Daisy
well, i got to page 75 of 175. usually i don't give up until page 100, but i'm particular these days, especially because i'm skittish about philosophy in general. in the beginning i was supremely entertained by dennett's clever musings on sentience (he's a wonderful writer, much like douglas hofstadter), but in the end the semantics (as usual!) broke me down. "is x sentient or is it merely sensitive to certain inputs?" my answer: well, it depends on how you define "sentient" and "sensitive". my...more
Eli
Feb 03, 2011 Eli rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: cogsci
Very thought-provoking. I began this book resistant to its message, as I had watched speeches by Dennett that had left me unconvinced. Specifically I had taken away from those presentations that to Dennett consciousness, or "mindhood", was nothing more than a byproduct of the organization of the brain, which, while potentially true, was dismissive of the subjectiveness of being, something separated from objective analysis by (to me) an unbridgeable chasm. I've heard it facetiously argued that pe...more
Fox
Feb 21, 2010 Fox rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Fox by: Sara Waller
Although I do not necessarily agree with all that Dennett stated in this book, I have to say that he stated it exceptionally well. This was an accessible, high level philosophical book detailing the conception of animal minds vs. human minds. Each philosophical concept he put forward he carefully defined and explained with often amusing examples.

The ideas that he came up with himself (i.e. The Tower of Generate and Test, mamataxis, etc.) were novel and interesting without being too difficult to...more
Bram
The book starts with very interesting questions concerning the mind. And it also ends with more or less the same questions, but formulated differently with some categories. Doesn't contain any science. Very disappointing.

I like Daniel Dennett a lot, but I don't like this book.
Dave Peticolas

A short little work exploring, from a philosophical perspective, the possible differences between human minds and other possible minds, including the minds of other creatures on the planet. Dennett provides lot of good references for further reading.

Mikael Lind
Daniel Dennett sets out to make us think about minds in a different way after having read his book, and he certainly succeeds in what he set out to do. I found that this book does what a good philosophy book should do; it doesn't try to give any definite answers, but it is challenging most peoples' current conceptions towards the subject. I've seen a lecture with Dennett before, and found it stimulating and interesting despite the fact that I didn't agree with him on all accounts. Kinds of Minds...more
Feliks
There's been a boom in "armchair"-style cognitive pop-science books lately but you really have to be familiar with what the long-standing landscape of the topic was; before jumping at every latest fad title. Start with something like this. Anytime any new discovery happens, a spate of books ensues by anyone even remotely involved; the lamers who write science-feature articles for Yahoo are all looking to get their first book out. Remain calm and don't get excited at every little 'startling devel...more
Diana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Björn
Thought-provoking stuff about how different kinds of minds might operate – including our own. Nothing new here for people who are already familiar with Dennett, but good nonetheless.
Emanuel Landeholm
I love books that make me feel intelligent.
Jefke
Interessant boek waarin Dennett je goed doet nadenken over wat een ziel is. Door vanuit verschillende standpunten de vraag aan te halen of dieren wel een ziel hebben en indien ja, welke wel en welke niet en waarom. Ook vanaf wanneer een foetus een ziel heeft. Als filosoof doet hij de luisteraar de juiste vragen stellen.
Zeer interessant. 3 sterren omdat enkel boeken die ik absoluut aanraad 5 sterren krijgen. Deze is interessant voor wie zich met die problematiek wil bezig houden.
Lora Shouse
This book is really more about what constitutes a mind than about different kinds of minds, and about the questions that need to be answered to determine whether something or somebody - an animal, an unborn child, a robot, whatever - actually has what we would think of as a mind or not. He talks about the differences between sentience and insentience and conscious and unconscious, and where and how to make the distinction between them.
Sam Ferree
I picked this up at Midway Bookstore in St. Paul. It intrigued me because I'd like to learn more about the question of Other Minds. The first section was fascinating, but later chapters descended into a myopic examination of the possibility of animal intelligence, which Dennett seems to believe is impossible. I think that Dennett mistakes the epistemological difficulty of examining non-human minds with human exceptionalism.
Praveen N. Jayasuriya
Mindblowing. Pick up the audiobbok. Dennett himself reads it and lucidly builds up his argument. A book that will expand your mind, make you ask questions and force you to examine the conventional wisdom regarding intelligence and consciousness. Once again this proves that Dr Dennett is a great thinker of our times!

I was affected by this books so much that I have reread it cover to cover several times!
Krishan
Nov 09, 2007 Krishan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in consciousness
Basically, this book is an overview of how consciousness evolved. Beginning with the simplest self-replicating molecules and moving all the way up to human consciousness and all of its subjective experience. Most interesting is his explanation of 'the intentional stance', an explanatory view lets us examine mindless organic things in the same way that we look at mindful things like chimps and people.
Fascinating
Suhrob
Very well argued, beautifully constructed argumentation. It reminded me of listening to good university lectures, ones whose syllabus and flow was perfected during years, where one idea naturally leads to another and everything fits in (not meaning that Daniel C. Dennet gives a hermetic set not open to discussion and other interpretations, but as a compliment to his style). Excellent!
Nick
Fascinating, but offensive if you like dogs. Basically, you start at the bottom and build up---when did the multicellular organism attain the ability to "think"? At some point. Using Dennett's well-argued theories of ever-increasing complexity, he comes to the sticky conclusion that animals, dogs for example, can't feel as much pain as we humans do. Is this true? Maybe.
John Wiswell
Oct 01, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Consciousness readers, development readers, evolution readers
Short and much more accessible than most of Dennett's books, Kinds of Minds attempts to explore consciousness through biological and philosophical lenses. While he doesn't use the most advanced brain-scanning science to back up some of his beliefs, his intuitions are easy to follow. His conclusions are unsatisfactory, but his exploration is certainly worth a look.
Cristian
A great effort at clearing up our misconceptions about the mind - probably the most treacherous subject you can approach philosophically. As Dennett states, the book may not give you any new answers, but it does show you that the answers many think of are likely wrong, and helps you pose more pertinent questions.
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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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