Tuesday, January 13, 2009

YAY Dan Dennett!

Okays, My friends and I went on a mini road trip down to Stanford to see Daniel Dennett give one of the Presidential Lectures.


Short Version: It was AWESOME


Slightly Longer Version: First of all he's a huge guy! Like around 6 1/2 feet or something! And I'm a huge dork so when I went up to him to get my copy of Darwin's Dangerous Idea signed, I stuttered and tripped all over myself when he was signing book. However I did say to him that it was people like him and Dawkins who got me into science in the first place. (I was an atheist before I read either of them)I never noticed how poetic science and nature are, well at least until I stumbled across these guys in my local Barnes and Noble. Now I can’t get enough of them, hence the major.

But his lecture blew me away! Titled "The evolution of why as an answer to free will" it was about how free will can co exist with a completely secular outlook.
 I hate having to reduce it but think of it like this: The saying “free as a bird” isn’t as meaningful as “free as a human”. We’re the only creatures that are able to apply cognitive reasons to our actions. Birds and dogs etc are ruled by instinct more so than we are.  The power we have to reflect, to question, to invent, to imagine, is freedom, at least according to Dr. Dennett. Did we come about by the mere physical laws of the universe? Yes. Did any intervening higher power (Skyhook? No. Crane? Yes) help us out? No. However, we our no longer as bound by instinct and nature as we used to be strictly because of the evolution that brought us about! I was smiling the whole time….


(Wow, I just bastardized a great lecture. BUY HIS BOOK)


Anyways, for a better understanding of his ideas on this subject check out his book Freedom Evolves.  For his wonderful book celebrating and discussing the philosophical implications of the theory of evolution; check Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. And for his thoughts on religion check out Breaking the Spell.


After the lecture ended, one of my bolder friends rushed up to him to get a group photo. I’ll post as soon as we brighten up the image a bit, it’s kinda dark. NO IT’S NOT PHOTOSHOPPED lol.


I was so happy to see him! Read his books! Go! Do it!

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