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Maverick Philosopher on Daniel Dennett, who objects to post-modernism but helps it along anyway (without meaning to)

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Photograph of Daniel Dennett
Daniel Dennett

From Maverick Philosopher:

From an interview with Daniel Dennett in the pages of The Guardian (2017)

My understanding of postmodernism – and you’re a very prominent atheist – is that in the absence of a single meta-narrative, which is God, you had competing narratives…

[Dennett:] Yes and one’s true and the others are false. One of those narratives is the truth and the others aren’t; it’s as simple as that.

Maverick Philosopher observes,

Is it really so simple? Dennett is suggesting that his naturalist narrative is not a mere narrative, but the true narrative. If so, then there is truth; there is a way things are in themselves apart from our stories and beliefs and hopes and desires. I agree that there is truth. But I wonder how consistent it is for Dennett to hold that there is truth given the rest of his views. This is a man who holds that consciousness is an illusion. He explains consciousness by explaining it away. Now I would say that the urge to explain and understand is the central animating nerve of the philosophical project. As Dennett says,

I put comprehension as one of my highest ideals. I want to understand everything. I want people to understand things. I love understanding things. I love explaining things to myself and to others.

My question, however, is how consciousness could be an illusion but not truth. I say neither is an illusion. Consciousness cannot be an illusion for the simple reason that we presuppose it when we distinguish between reality and illusion. An illusion is an illusion to consciousness, so that if there were no consciousness there would be no illusions either. More.

The only sense it would make for Dennett to want to comprehend anything while believing his own consciousness to be an illusion is that, despite his age and learning, his mindset is that of a post-modern millennial who need not be coherent. In her case, that’s okay because whatever she thinks this month will be different when she gets a new yoga mat. In his case, we have more questions. But then the people who listen to Dennett encourage it all.

Daniel Dennett.

See also: Taking aim at the idea that consciousness is an illusion, as claimed by Daniel Dennett. Markus Gabriel: Remarkably, illusionists about consciousness typically do not offer actual error theories that tell us in what precise sense consciousness counts as a fiction or an illusion. I will argue that this blind spot is not a coincidence, but rather a consequence of theoretical deficiencies in the hypothesis of illusionism itself.

2 Replies to “Maverick Philosopher on Daniel Dennett, who objects to post-modernism but helps it along anyway (without meaning to)

  1. 1

    I amazed by Dennett’s popularity. Seems incredibly incoherent and nonsensical to me. Might be fun for a late-night dorm room discussion, but hardly the stuff of real life.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    Seeing as maverick philosophers don’t feel the need to (or have the ability) to link to their sources, this is the Guardian piece mentioned: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/12/daniel-dennett-politics-bacteria-bach-back-dawkins-trump-interview

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