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A philosophy book that stuff scientists (like me) can get behind
on October 10, 2009
Dan Dennett manages to achieve a great deal in a relatively short book. Through a series of insightful, clever though experiments and self-referential terms the author manages to allow the reader to think about evolution, morality and the meaning of life in unique ways. That is one of the great strengths of the book is that the author uses these techniques to allow us to rethink and reformulate some stale ideas in more vivid ways. I haven't read many books by philosophers and I must admit that the writing style and the literary focus were a bit disorienting. But once I understood the types of issues and problems that were important to philosophers I began to appreciate this world. Plus, this was a philosophy book about a topic I am well read on and very interested in, namely evolution. Dennett does a good job of writing a philosophy book that can appeal to a wider audience. Dan Dennett effectively builds up a whole world for the purposes of this book. Unless you are willing to follow him in his quirky thought-processes you won't get far. He defines several terms (design space, greedy reductionism, cranes and skyhooks) and then effectively uses this new dictionary to discuss his thoughts. If you are willing to follow him, you are in for a treat.