Sunday, May 01, 2011

Dan Dennett on our consciousness

I wasn't assigned to post this week, but I haven't done one yet and the semester seems to be ending quickly. I found this video on the TED Talks website. We talked about wanting to know more about general things about consciousness, and this video gives an interesting perspective from Dan Dennet, not a cognitive psychologist, but a professor, philosopher, and scientist. The video isn't too long, and he's a pretty entertaining speaker. He starts with a small scientific explanation of consciousness by the way of neurons firing and what not, but then goes on to compare the ideas of consciousness with magic tricks. It reminds me of many of previous blog posts that show ways in which our minds trick us. He shows a video example of how our eyes miss large pieces of information when concentrating on other things. In a way he seems to be saying that our minds are far less intriguing than we think they are, which I thought was strange, and do not entirely agree with. Nonetheless, it was an interesting new perspective.


Pratt Psychology said...
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Emily said...

I found this talk by Prof. Dennett to be really interesting in general, although I have to admit that I still don’t quite know where he’s going with his ideas in accordance with consciousness. I completely agree with him when he says that our minds just expect detail, even if it isn’t there. I believe this has a lot to do with our own survival. If we were to see every last detail the way things really are at all times (at least how it comes through to our retina), it would be very confusing. Take for instance a dog standing with half its body behind a tree in the distance. You obviously know the other half of the dog is attached to the first half, but if we were to believe only what our eye sees it wouldn’t make any sense. I think that’s still the same thing happening when you “see” the cube through the “swiss cheese.” You know the cube isn’t there, but your brain puts it together for you. This makes sense, but I still don’t get how this has to do with consciousness. Maybe I’m missing the point.

Thoughts said...

Emily, Dennett explains the bigger picture in "Consciousness Explained" and "Where am I?". Dennett is an old fashioned natural dualist masquerading as an atheist (see Dennett's Dualism). Perhaps he has not reid Reid.