When Daniel Dennett Changes His Mind

Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist
When Daniel Dennett Changes His Mind.
  • Transcript


Question: When have you changed your mind about something?

Dennett:    Yeah, and fairly recently.  For years, well I’m going to try 2 that really faded.  In my first book, I disparaged models as I said replace the little man on their brain with a committee, I said that seem to only make matters worst, “They are no, no.”  If it’s a committee of dances, each of them does only part of the job that’s far for me he matters [IB] that’s progress and that lead to what’s called by some people homuncular functionalism where you take the whole self, the whole agent the whole person and you break that person down into sub-agencies that are themselves agencies they had their own sort of agendas and they have, they have this information they have is the, you might say they have their own beliefs and desires and they work together to achieve the larger person.  That’s not entirely figured if you talk to someone that’s deeply, deeply predictive and explanatory and here’s where the mistake comes, and I imagine said that we can do a sort of a Russian dolls cascade, we’ve start with these large fancy agents and we make them up out of smaller agents so we make those up by the smaller agents until we get down to an agent that can be replaced by a machine and then we discharged all the homunculus, homunculi, and this is a finite regress, its not an infinite regress and I imagine by the time we got down at the level of the neuron, a neuron was something that can be replaced by a machine.  Well, I think I stopped.  I said that the regress stopped a few stages too early.  I think a neuron is better viewed, a single neuron is better viewed as a little agent of it’s own than it is a sort of selfish agent that the activities of an individual neuron in effect reaching out and then contracting it’s dendritic]branchings.  It’s got some purposes, it’s got some reward systems of its own. It is a little skin area and agents on sorts.  And of course it is an ultimately a machine but it’s also a very much of an agent and that’s something that I’ve recently been thinking about it and I think I was really wrong about that.