Thread: Free Will
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Unread February 15th, 2006, 08:21 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Cool Dennett vs. Dawkins epistemologies

Fred:
"there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism"

Hi Fred, good to see that you're still going strong too.

My feeling is that Dennett probably is ambivalent about being associated with the extreme atheists like Dawkins because while he sides with them on his opposition to "intelliegent design," he also has a different view on the nature and role of religion in human life, possibly because he has a more realist view of human intentionality. Belief means something subtly more to him (in guiding action) than it does to Dawkins, I think, for whom it seems to be something arbitrary that we may or may not get right.

I think it was no coincidence that Dawkins came up with the most extreme Lockean version of the "meme" idea whereby the human mind is just a mishmosh of ideas from its environment.

Dennett supports the concept in general (in "Darwin's Dangerous Idea") but I think he takes it back just a bit more than Dawkins because he recognizes in various places that we process ideas according to things like particular styles of explanation, genetic preferences, and prior history. This means that memes seem to cluster in particular ways, lending much more structure to a mind than in Dawkins' view, and making intentionality and belief more relevant to philosophy and science of mind.

Anyway, that's the way I think of their respective stances. Perhaps it reflects more of my own than theirs though!

kind regards,

Todd
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