Daniel C. Dennett: The De-Darwinizing of Cultural Change

Daniel C. Dennett, Teacher 2.0, Mar 04, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I don't agree with everything Daniel Dennett says, but what he says is never trivial (in the way, say, Jerry Fodor or David K. Lewis are trivial) - the postulates he offer require serious thought, because they are genuine possibilities, and not just semantical tricks. "If I ask you," he says, "'What is it like to be a termite colony?' most people would say, 'It's not like anything.' Well, now let's look at a brain, let's look at a human brain—100 billion neurons, roughly speaking, and each one of them is dumber than a termite and they're all sort of semi-independent." So what's the difference? Human brains, he says, co-evolved with culture, and termite colonies did not. "In bringing up a child in a social world, what you're basically doing is installing thousands of apps and meta apps, and apps on top of apps on the hardware of the brain."

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