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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,490 Ratings  ·  67 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
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Psychology and Philosophy of Mind Nerds
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 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2013 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.

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
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook.

Although I expected the book to be different I really enjoyed it. It deals with topics such as the idea of the intentional stance, the importance of speed in our understanding of consciousness and intelligence, functionalism, a simple hierarchy for classifying minds and pain and suffering, offering interesting views and arguments.

Definitely an interesting read if you are interested in the discussion of consciousness or animal rights.

Some ideas I found interesting on
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, neuroscience
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.
Paul ataua
Jul 28, 2016 rated it liked it
It's a fairly interesting read. Dennett employs philosophy, evolution, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence to examine the nature of minds. Most irritating, however, is Dennett's arrogance. I found myself adding ' I would argue that' before every time he said 'it is', and adding ' and some people still do' when he said 'people used to think...". Dennett is one smart cookie, and really doesn't need to appeal to the power of persuasive language to make his points.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 11, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
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 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Vad skall man säga?

Ställer frågor, men kommer inte fram till några tydliga svar.

Intressantast blir boken när han diskuterar djurens eventuella medvetande/lidande kopplat till etik. En lätt vidröring av ämnet djurrätt även om det inte på något sätt är bokens fokus.

Känns ibland som han drar förhastade slutsatser...utan att det leder någonstans.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A very good summary of his thoughts on consciousness. The book I would recommend to the layman.
José Luis
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mais um livro fantástico do Daniel Dennett. Para explicar e discutir sua teoria dos tipos de mentes, ele estabelece três tipos de criaturas: Skinnerian creatures, que respondem a estímulos; Popperian creatures, que sobrevivem melhor porque são capazes de fazer escolhas conscientes, não apenas baseadas em instintos e reflexos primitivos; Gregorian creatures, capazes de usar conhecimento prévio e disponível no mundo real para fazer suas escolhas. Fica bem clara a diferença entre o comportamento de ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
(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”
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is easy to read, but hard to digest. Because of Dennett's deceptively easy style, there is absolutely nothing that you cannot understand in this book. However, you must ask yourself whether the question you had when you opened the book, that is, about what can be called a mind and what can't, is answered when you finished the book. For me, it wasn't.

And I think this is because Dennett actually did not answer the question. At the opening of the book, he poses two questions before us: 1)
Joseph Sverker
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I really enjoy the clarity and well crafted line of argument in this book. I was of the impression that Dennett denied sentient consciousness, but here he presents a rather interesting point that it is not as special as others want to argue that it is. I still think that he is wrong with that, for I think it certainly is a central point for our morality over all. It is however a very tricky business how to interpret other beings' consciousness. The link between sentient consciousness and languag ...more
Sep 01, 2008 rated it liked it
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
William Ramsdell
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hayes, Susanna
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mikael Lind
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
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,
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
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Some interesting things here and a fair bit of review.

What stuck out to me:
- Dennett emphasizes the idea that human intelligence is closely linked to our ability to externalize our thoughts. Not our optimization power as a species, the connection there is obvious, but, I think, the actual structure and function of our brains. I think this is similar to David Deutsch's idea of cognitive artifacts. Anyway, I'll to think/read more on the topic.
- Suffering remains mysterious to me, and this reminde
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"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.
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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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