Daniel Dennett

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The Darwinian Revolution is both a scientific and a philosophical revolution, and neither revolution could have occurred without the other.

Daniel Dennett (born March 28, 1942) is a prominent American atheist philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology.


Go ahead and believe in God, if you like, but don't imagine that you have been given any grounds for such a belief by science.
  • We really have to think of reasoning the way we think of romance, it takes two to tango. There has to be a communication.
  • In fact, of course, science is an unparalleled playground of the imagination, populated by unlikely characters with wonderful names (messenger RNA, black holes, quarks) and capable of performing the most amazing deeds: sub-atomic whirling dervishes that can be in several places — everywhere and nowhere — at the same time; molecular hoop-snakes biting their own tails; self-copying spiral staircases bearing coded instructions; miniature keys searching for the locks in which they fit, on floating odysseys in a trillion synaptic gulfs.
    • "Reflections on 'A Conversation With Einstein's Brain'" in The Mind's I (1981), edited by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett
  • We now understand how very complex and even apparently intelligent phenomena, such as genetic coding, the immune system, and low-level visual processing, can be accomplished without a trace of consciousness. But this seems to uncover an enormous puzzle of just what, if anything, consciousness is for. Can a conscious entity do anything for itself that an unconscious (but cleverly wired up) simulation of that entity couldn't do for itself?
    • "The Evolution of Consciousness," Consciousness and Emotion in Cognitive Science: Conceptual and Empirical Issues (1998) ed. Josefa Toribio & Andy Clark
  • I think religion for many people is some sort of moral viagra.
    • "Atheism Tapes, part 6", BBC TV documentation of Jonathan Miller, produced by Richard Denton, recorded 2003, broadcast 2004
  • I was once interviewed in Italy and the headline of the interview the next day was wonderful. I saved this for my collection it was... "YES we have a soul but it's made of lots of tiny robots" and I thought that's exactly right. Yes we have a soul, but it's mechanical. But it's still a soul, it still does the work that the soul was supposed to do. It is the seat of reason. It is the seat of moral responsibility. It's why we are appropriate objects of punishment when we do evil things, why we deserve the praise when we do good things. It's just not a mysterious lump of wonder stuff... that will out live us.
    • "Atheism Tapes, part 6", BBC TV documentation of Jonathan Miller, produced by Richard Denton, recorded 2003, broadcast 2004
  • Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.
    • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (2005), p. 2