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The Intentional Stance (Bradford Books) [Paperback]

by Daniel C. Dennett
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 6, 1989 0262540533 978-0262540537 Reprint

How are we able to understand and anticipate each other in everyday life, in our daily interactions? Through the use of such "folk" concepts as belief, desire, intention, and expectation, asserts Daniel Dennett in this first full-scale presentation of a theory of intentionality that he has been developing for almost twenty years. We adopt a stance, he argues, a predictive strategy of interpretation that presupposes the rationality of the people - or other entities - we are hoping to understand and predict.These principles of radical interpretation have far-reaching implications for the metaphysical and scientific status of the processes referred to by the everday terms of folk psychology and their corresponding terms in cognitive science.While Dennett's philosophical stance has been steadfast over the years, his views have undergone successive enrichments, refinements, and extensions. The Intentional Stance brings together both previously published and original material: four of the book's ten chapters - its first and the final three - appear here for the first time and push the theory into surprising new territory. The remaining six were published earlier in the 1980s but were not easily accessible; each is followed by a reflection - an essay reconsidering and extending the claims of the earlier work. These reflections and the new chapters represent the vanguard of Dennett's thought. They reveal fresh lines of inquiry into fundamental issues in psychology, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary theory as well as traditional issues in the philosophy of mind.Daniel C. Dennett is Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor at Tufts University and the author of Brainstorms and Elbow Room. The Intentional Stance, along with these works, is a Bradford Book.

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Editorial Reviews


"Dennett's essays are vivid, witty and admirably provocative." P. N. Johnson­Laird , The London Review of Books

"This is Dennett in action: reflecting, joking, clarifying, criticizing - and always stimulating.... Anyone interested in the philosophy of mind will find both interest and excitement in these essays." Margaret Boden , Sussex University

About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is the author of Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press) and other books.

Product Details

  • Series: Bradford Books
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book; Reprint edition (March 6, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262540533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262540537
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intro to Dennett's thought on consciousness January 24, 2006
Anybody who wants to seriously wrestle with Dennett's thought on consciousness needs to start here, then move to "Consciousness Explained," and from there to "Freedom Evolves." (It is an update of "Elbow Room," which means that can be skipped. And, although it has some germs of Dennett's thought, "Brainstorms" can also be bypassed.)

Does one have to have a philosophy course touching on intentionality before reading this book? No, not if one is well-enough read in philosophy, psychology or sociology in general to grasp the background of Dennett's ideas.

I rate this a star higher than most of Dennett's later work primarily because it is more introductory, and so we see less of Dennett tripping himself up or avoiding some of the logical conclusions of his speculations.

That said, Dennett is never dull or boring; agree or disagree, he will stimulate your thought.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic February 15, 2003
I believe this work should be considered a classic given the enormous influence the articles in it have had on philosophy of mind, among other areas in philosophy. Much in here is stated more clearly about the Intentional Stance than it is in later works, such as Brain Children. That isn't a criticism. I think that around the time this work was published Dennett was more into legitimizing and explaining the Intentional Stance than into polishing up his account of mind. Indeed in later works, such as "Consciousness Explained" and "Kinds of Minds", he builds off the foundation he laid here to develop his account of mind more fully.
In IS, Dennett comments on just which philosophical schools he aligns himself with, for instance, interpretivism, methodological behaviorism, and functionalism. Part of the message to take home about exactly where he aligns himself is that it isn't really important to him. He lays his arguments down and lets others worry about whether that makes him an interpretivist or methodological behaviorist. A clearer statement of his position regarding categorization of his views can be found in the "Back to the Drawing Board" chapter in "Dennett and His Critics".
In later works, Dennett further clarifies in what sense the entities the Intentional Stance makes use of are real, entities such as beliefs and desires. The most important of these later works is probably "Real Patterns", which appears in "Brain Children". In short, beliefs are part of compression algorithms of behavior that has been subjected to radical interpretation (See Davidson) from the Intentional Stance. A compression algorithm is (you guessed it) something that compresses some series of data.
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4.0 out of 5 stars On my reading list January 26, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have not had the time to read it, but I hope to some day soon. I have always found Dennett's books interesting and very thought provoking.
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