Daniel Dennett: 'I don't like theory of mind' – interview
Format: Magazine Article
Publication Year: 2013
Source ID: shanti-sources-39286
Collection: Theory of Mind
Abstract: This week American philosopher Daniel Dennett, a long-time stalwart of Darwin@LSE, shared his wisdom with a lunchtime crowd in the London School of Economics' Old Theatre. Since fellow philosopher Helena Cronin's 1995 launch of the LSE hub (which is devoted to evolution's maxims) Dennett has been a regular guest. His mission this week to persuade the public that cultural evolution exists and is facilitated due to our hierarchical nature, where those at the top tell others what to think and do. Dennett rhetorically asked, "Does culture make us smart enough to have minds?" From studying the human ability to become good at things without understanding, which then leads to our acquisition of the cognisance to comprehend, via our competence, Dennett favours the theory (first suggested by Richard Dawkins) that our social learning has given us a second information highway (in addition to the genetic highway) where the transmission of variant cultural information (memes) takes place via differential replication. Software viruses, for example, can be understood as memes, and as memes evolve in complexity, so does human cognition: "The mind is the effect, not the cause."