Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett

American philosopher
28 March 1942 —

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Daniel Dennett's books


Every living thing is, from the cosmic perspective, incredibly lucky simply to be alive. Most, 90 percent and more, of all the organisms that have ever lived have died without viable offspring, but not a single one of your ancestors, going back to the dawn of life on Earth, suffered that normal misfortune. You spring from an unbroken line of winners going back millions of generations, and those winners were, in every generation, the luckiest of the lucky, one out of a thousand or even a million. So however unlucky you may be on some occasion today, your presence on the planet testifies to the role luck has played in your past.

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If you can approach the world's complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things.

Problems in science are sometimes made easier by adding complications.

An old joke about behaviorists is that they don't believe in beliefs, they think that nothing can think, and in their opinion nobody has opinions.

One of the surprising discoveries of modern psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of your own ignorance.

Sometimes an impossibility in fact is theoretically more interesting than a possibility in principle.

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The only meaning of life worth caring about is one that can withstand our best efforts to examine it.

Religion, like love and music, is natural. But so are smoking, war, and death.

We don`t love babies and puppies because they`re cute. It`s the other way around: we see them as cute because evolution has designed us to love things that look like that.

Love is blind, as they say, and because love is blind, it often leads to tragedy.

I love the world so much that I am sure I want to know the truth about it.

I am a philosopher, not a scientist, and we philosophers are better at questions than answers.

There is no future in a sacred myth. Why not? Because of our curiosity.

Animals are not just herbivores or carnivores. They are, in the nice coinage of the psychologist George Miller, informavores.

Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.


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