Freedom Evolves has ratings and reviews. Samir said: Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers “yes!” Using an array of. Can there be freedom and free will in a deterministic world? Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett emphatically answers “yes!” Using an array. Galen Strawson reviews book Freedom Evolves by Daniel C Dennett; drawings ( M).

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Jan 27, Polaris rated it it was ok. Sign in to use this feature.

It was amazing in places. Our consciousness is an illusion.

But as you zoom out, you start to see patterns and structures – cells, tissues, organs, and eventually animals. Very well, freeedom you insist. Dennett’s view seems to be that all attempts to argue that what happens in your brain is not the result of impersonal subatomic interactions seem to dennrtt postulating explicitly or – more commonly these days – implicitly, some kind of immaterial soul or mind that is distinct from your body the idea known as Cartesian dualism.

Libet tells when the readiness potential occurs objectively, using electrodes, but relies on the subject reporting the position of the hand of a clock to determine when the conscious decision was made. The book leaves me more worried about the possibilities of a future with more science than about the question of my own free will.

Oct 12, Paul Ataua rated it liked it. How can the absolute inevitability of all things be reconciled with the sense of free will that we all experience?

Freedom Evolves

Determinism, he says, is not fatalism. They ignore their supposedly scientific beliefs rather as their ancestors often ignored threats of eternal punishment. This leads to the illusion of consciousness. View all 3 comments. Dennett has said of Dennstt Evolves”If I accomplish one thing in this book, I want to break the bad habit of putting determinism and inevitability together.

Finding room for free will in a deterministic world. If you look at in any particular neighbourhood of molecules, you can’t tell if you’re looking at a human being or a lump of coal. If you are persuaded that we live in a deterministic universe, where free will is an illusion, this book very likely will change your opinion. So, you don’t notice the neurological processes regulating your heartbeat; you will notice changes in your freedpm area though.

It should not be a surprise then that they aren’t in question here.

Freedom Evolves by Daniel C. Dennett | : Books

According to Dennett, ambiguities in the timings of the different events are involved. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in The ideas and examples given can often be found elsewhere in his own work and the work of popular authors like Richard Dawkins.


And writers like Dennett, who want to promote a worldview centring on science, are indeed often somewhat hostile to the concept of free will.

To illustrate that whether or not you believe in it, determinism cannot affect guilt, Dennett tells the story of the French Foreign Legionnaire who is hated by all at the fort. He takes a blend of science and philosophy and makes it accessible to the casual well, non-scientist reader.

So in this book, Dennett defends the existence of free will. They and I include myself here reflexively feel that while science rightly treats the entirety of the natural world as subject to the same universal deterministic laws, they must preserve an idea of human free will as an exception to the laws of physics, in I was interested in this book because of the hypocritical inconsistency exhibited by many secular types who, reasonably enough, deny the existence of “God” but bristle at the prospect that we all live in a completely determined universe.

There was a fourth man involved with his canteen, the only one who ultimately needed to rely on its contents, whose responsibility it was to make sure the canteen was functional, and filled with clean water. If determinism is right, I could have done nothing else, therefore I am not free. Having read a lot in the area of consciousness and free-will and being a researcher in neuroscience, I can say that Dennett has a good grasp of the most important aspects of this field.

I had heard that Dennett held some sort of compatibilist view, whereby he argues that true, non-deterministic free will arises through evolution from a basis of determinism at the lower physical level.

Dennett argues, though it is an aside to his main thesis, that it does not. The few classic philosophy texts that I’ve read in the past held me from start to finish, like a good novel does, and cajoled me into understanding where the philosopher is coming from and what it is he’s trying to achieve. Dennett gives these questions his best shot and comes up with a coherent, convincing model of consciousness and somewhat less convincing human freedom. Many animals, in fact, exercise some degree of choice, but we have evolved this capability to an extremely sophisticated and qualitatively greater extent.

I h It’s not that I would disagree with Dennett on his main points.

Dennett entertains the idea of a “free” human subject or “agent” as he calls it who must make deterministic snap nonthinking reactions and, eventually, transform into a being that never wavers when making decisions, because all decisions become practical, mathematical, scientific.

As Dennett points out, this holistic approach certainly works better than the simple libertarian attempt to avoid fatalism by interrupting determinism with patches of quantum indeterminacy – an attempt that could only produce spasms of randomness, not freedom.

But then again, if you would trade places, you wouldn’t be you anymore This change in focus was welcome to the present reader.


What remains to be fennett for me is, what is the benefit of a scientific deterministic worldview when we have concluded that the state system and the technological progress that created it and that it demonstrably perpetuates in return were not, are not, and cannot be desirable?

My head starts hurting and maybe I miss a few lines of the text as I read past them, too quickly, still considering an idea that he brought up paragraphs earlier. A book combining many ideas from Consciousness Explained and Darwin’s Dangerous Ideaand pushing them into their logical follow-up questions: In Dennett’s example, if we’re at bat in baseball and the ball is pitched at our body, we may choose to eaniel it to escape pain and injury as many animals would or we may avoid avoiding it in service of some other uniquely human goal we have in mind gaining a walk to first base, winning the game, etc.

Kane believes freedom is based on certain rare and exceptional events, which he calls self-forming actions or SFA’s.

The best materialistic account of free will I’ve yet encountered. Suppose Libet knows that your readiness potential peaked at millisecond 6, of the experimental trial, and the clock dot was straight down which is what you reported you saw at millisecond 7, That is, of course, a less welcome notion than the similar explanation of the idea of God which is their favourite example.

But saying that freedom is the ‘capacity to achieve what we value in a range of circumstances’ leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I’m not a philosopher, I’m just an interested onlooker, but it seems to me that Dennetts treatment of freedom is ultimately a retreat into obscurity.

His occasional arrogance and sometimes stodgy style don’t help, but he does provide the reader with lots of very stimulating arguments, and on several occasions, I found myself stopping to put the book down and spend time mulling over the points made.

This is indeed an opportunity for a Self-Forming Action of the sort Kane draws to our attention, and we human beings are the only species that is capable of making them, but there is no need for them to be undetermined. In all, this was an amusing book to read – food for thought – even though at some moments the main story became bogged down in intricate philosophical debates.

Dec 24, Valerie rated it really liked it Recommends it for: