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Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness (Science Masters)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  56 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
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 27th 1996 by Basic Books (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,788)
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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
Riku Sayuj
Feb 08, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it liked it
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
Sep 28, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2012 Gendou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jan 24, 2013 JJVid rated it it was amazing
"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
Feb 03, 2011 Eli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Feist
Mar 23, 2015 Andrew Feist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cogsci
Very short, concise account of Dennett's approach to the mind and how it relates to other creatures. It is very well explained, however not that strongly argued. It is certainly written as an addendum to Consciousness Explained, however it might be better to read this first. In fact, I'd say its a great introduction to anyone who interested in a materialist philosophy of mind, or generally, cognitive science. It explains the big problems, and what he opines to be the best approaches. He gives no ...more
Feb 21, 2010 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hilary 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
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
Jan 21, 2011 Rakan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(I originally published this review in 1996 in American Scientist)

At one point in his new book Kinds of Minds Daniel Dennett notes that “we (humans), in contrast are believe alls. There is no limit, apparently to what we can believe”(p 44). In Kinds of Minds Dennett is out to convince us that “mindfulness”is an attribute which we may justifiably apply to non-human entities, and that in so doing we will gain a more accurate view of our own minds. Should we believe him?

Dennett’s approach to “mind”
William Ramsdell
Like most Dennett books, it is chalk full of mental fiber and powerfully intuitive thought experiments that effortlessly make his points for him. Dennett get so many points for eschewing abstruse 'philoso-speak' although here, I wanted a bit more structure.

The book lacks a central agenda of thesis, and I think that this is the reason why I didn't like it as much as I might have—although I may simply be a grinch and unwilling to accept "there are many kinds of minds" as a satisfactory thesis, wh
Feb 22, 2014 Joaquin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jan 31, 2016 MeisterKleister rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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.

One of my favorite non-fiction books ever. It cleared my thoughts about minds by showing me which ideas / questions even make sense or not and why. I have watched many lectures by Dennett before reading the book, so I knew what I was getting into.

This is one book I love to re-read over and over again.
Sep 01, 2008 Daisy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2014 Bram rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Chin Jian Xiong
Dec 13, 2015 Chin Jian Xiong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basic introduction to a lot of general questions. Maps the development of perception and sensitivity in animals, slowly building up to an understanding of exactly what the human mind entails in opposition to these lesser consciousnesses.
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
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
Mar 01, 2014 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kaploof, the sound of my brain busticating.
Mar 18, 2014 Björn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Have to listen to it again to comprehend better.
Mar 10, 2009 Jozef rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 03, 2013 Lora Shouse rated it really liked it
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
Apr 07, 2013 Sam Ferree rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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
Mar 15, 2011 Praveen N. Jayasuriya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-brain
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!
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Daniel Clement Dennett III is a prominent philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, science, and biology, particularly as they relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett is a noted atheist, avid sailor, and advocate of the Brights move ...more
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