Term Paper: Minds the Fields of Literature

Pages: 12 (3526 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The subsequent step involves those creatures that have the ability for an intentional stance towards other beings and those beings that are only capable of an intentional stance towards intentional stance. Hence the second step constitutes gauging the intentional stance in response to creatures and intentional stance in response to intentional stance of other beings. Therefore, intentional system with the ability to have an intentional stance towards other intentional systems and also towards other intentional stance has an edge over the first-order intentional system. Hence, the higher-order systems are successful in maintaining their ability to respond to the desires and convictions of other intentional systems with their own beliefs and aspirations. Dennett in his book proposes his beliefs regarding the existence of unaware high-order intentionality than the few examples that we find around ourselves of aware thinking. For example, animals betray each other as well as humans are capable of cheating on their fellow beings. According to Dennett, this becomes possible only when these animals and human beings know how to penetrate into and identify the intentional stance of their colleagues. Hence "drawing from ethology," the author of the Kinds of Minds culminate that "thinking arose from inner conversations (self-commentary) which arose from outer conversations (the need to argue with others of the same species) and from the biological need to keep secrets (to secure competitive advantages)" (Daniel Dennett).

In addition to the above, Dennett explains his firm belief regarding the source of human intelligence as his book unfolds the intricate experiences of the functioning of human body and different kinds of minds. The philosopher cum author is of the opinion that the process of cognitive activities and the human ability to expend most of there mental laborious work and responsibilities into their working milieu and natural setting permit human beings to perform with ease. This ability to "off-load" (Daniel Dennett) ameliorates the mental as well as physical conditions and helps all creatures to be less dependent on the wonders of their brains. Therefore we may culminate that Daniel Dennett was of the opinion that "species that store and use signs in the environment have an evolutionary advantage because they can "off-load" processing. It is like "taking a note" that we can look up later, so we don't have to remember it. They shape their environment. Their brains are semiotic devices that contain pointers and indices to the external world. Thanks to these artifacts our mind can extend out into the environment" (Daniel Dennett).

Furthermore, the renowned and the remarkable philosopher of his time, Dennett outlined further differences that makes human beings better and more cognizant than animals and other living creatures. Dennett uses the art of learning, comprehending and speaking language as a tool that paves the way for further human alertness regarding their surroundings and their ability to think in ways impossible for animals to adopt (Daniel Dennett). He believes that since animals are incapable of speaking the language as ours, they lack not only the essential communication skills but also the ability to think rationally unlike human beings. Thus Dennett believes that "language is more than just communication: it is a way to unravel the representations in our mind and extract units of them. Without language, an animal may have exactly the same representation, but it doesn't have access to any unit of it. If it can't talk, it can't think" (Daniel Dennett). Thus Daniel Dennett believes that it is through language, "labels learned and added to," that we human beings transform into rational thinkers and social animals. It is language that explicitly differentiates human beings from animals (Daniel Dennett). This is because the author thinks that the "communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols" or the language helps us to develop and refine our concepts, an attribute that the animals and other living creatures lack. (The American Heritage Dictionary)

In short, Daniel Dennett believes that mind "the faculty of thinking, reasoning, and applying knowledge" (The American Heritage Dictionary) has various stages and levels that classify it. However, the philosopher of cognitive sciences believes that brain plays little role in measuring the human intelligence or in improving the consciousness of the sensitive but not sentient beings. (Daniel Dennett)

Having summarized the contents of the masterpiece under consideration, it is now conveniently possible to analyze the Kinds of Minds in part III, the last section of our research paper.

Part III: Analysis of the Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness

Reviewing the book by the noteworthy philosopher is no doubt a highly challenging task. However, analyzing the masterpiece for its contents enables us to identify the mental processes and various kinds of human minds. Though the book has received far more appreciation than criticism, the magnum opus, Kinds of Minds has both its shortcomings and strong points.

From the very first line of the book, the author provides the inkling regarding the depth of the masterpiece and his ability to rack his reader's brain for answers to thought provoking questions. Daniel Dennett writes, "I am a philosopher, not a scientist, and we philosophers are better at questions than answers" (Dennett: 1). Hence, the book by Dennett puts forth as many questions as it answers. The book starts with a good few questions regarding human thinking, human mind and other cognitive processes, making the book highly captivating and thought provoking at the first glance only (2think: Kinds of Minds). Thus from the very first page to the end, where again the author leaves behind many engaging yet disturbing questions in his reader's mind, the book moves from one notion to the other making swift changes and transmitting chunks of information (2thin: Kinds of Minds). The paragraph on page 48 explains the author's claim that most of the biological processes that place inside the living creature's body are robotic in nature.

The following paragraph is what I found very rational in thinking and organized in arrangement of the content: (2think: Kinds of Minds)

The original self-replicating macromolecules had reasons for what they did, but had no inkling of them. We, in contrast, not only know -- or think we know -- our reasons; we articulate them, discuss them, criticize them, share them. They are not just the reasons we act; they are reasons for us. In between the macromolecules and us there is quite a story to be told."

However, on one hand the author presents the notion that distributed wisdom allows all body parts to function independently and more so, automatically but on the other hand he states that this distributed wisdom leads to obstructed working of the brain. This is where the loopholes in Dennett's work are evident for if the brain is not responsible for commanding and controlling the rest of the body than how come it can hamper its performance?

Moreover, the author uses the word language as the appropriate tool that distinguishes human beings from animals, stating that animals are in capable of speaking a language. As he explains his concept on page 159 of his book and supports his claim in the following words: "no languageless mammal can have the concept of snow in the way we can, because a languageless mammal has no way of considering snow 'in general' or 'in itself'" (2think: Kinds of Minds). This statement and speculation by Dennett is in contrast with the theories and concepts proposed by philosophers as celebrated as Gardner and Fouts (2think: Kinds of Minds). These eminent figures were of the view that animals like humans, especially chimpanzees are capable of speaking a distinct language with only one difference. Chimpanzees speak and express themselves in sounds and words that are inaudible to human ears. This is where Dennett work reflects lack of consideration of other works related to the same notion (2think: Kinds of Minds). The author cited the example of dog, which unlike chimps is an animal that least resembles human beings. Moreover, the lexical meaning of the word presents those perspectives and meanings of the word language that the author seems to neglect. One meaning of the word is "A system of signs, symbols, gestures, or rules used in communicating" or more explicitly language is also defined as "The manner or means of communication between living creatures other than humans: the language of dolphins" (The American Heritage Dictionary). The aforementioned meanings reveal that all those creatures that makes use of gestures and create sounds speak some of language and thereby are capable of developing concepts and of thinking.

Furthermore, Daniel Dennett considers language as the only tool that differentiates man from an animal. As the author states on page 146: "There is no step more uplifting, more explosive, more momentous in the history of mind design than the invention of language. When Homo sapiens became the beneficiary of this invention, the species stepped into a slingshot that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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