Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of PhilosophyView Slides
From one biological perspective, a multicellular organism such as a person is better seen as a relatively stable community of semi-autonomous cellular agents, with agendas of their own; this huge population of cells (having thousands or even millions of distinct genomes) normally manages to hold it together for decades. How can an aggregation of trillions of selfish, myopic cells discover the unwitting teamwork that turns that dynamic clump into a person who can love, notice, wonder, and keep a promise? Daniel will not attempt to answer this giant question, but will set out constraints and opportunities for research that will answer it.
Hint: there is no Emperor in charge. As one of Dan’s critics once said, in outrage, “For Dennett, it is not a case of the Emperor having no clothes. It is rather that the clothes have no Emperor.” (Voorhees, 2000, pp55-56) Exactly! There just seems to be an Emperor. There is, instead, a virtual governor. And how does it come to exist and what does it do?
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