Freedom Evolves

Freedom Evolves

3.8 (2,035 ratings by Goodreads)
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Daniel C. Dennett's Freedom Evolves tackles the most important question of human existence - is there really such a thing as free will? How can humans make genuinely independent choices if we are just a cluster of cells and genes in a world determined by scientific laws? Here, Daniel Dennett provides an impassioned defense of free will. But rather than freedom being an eternal, unchanging condition of our existence, in reality, he reveals, it has evolved: just like life on the planet and the air we breathe. Evolution is the key to resolving this greatest of philosophical questions - and to understanding our place in the world as uniquely free agents. Dennett shows that far from there being an incompatibility between contemporary science and the traditional vision of freedom and morality, it is only recently that science has advanced to the point where we can see how we came to have our unique kind of freedom. 'A serious book with a brilliant message' Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen 'Powerful and ingenious ...The definitive argument that the human mind is a product of evolution' John Gray, Independent 'A book of sparkling brio and seemingly effortless panache ...Dennett at his best is as good as it gets' Spectator Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world. A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies, and an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. His books include Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Breaking the Spell, Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Freedom more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 122 x 196 x 24mm | 340.2g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0140283897
  • 9780140283891
  • 52,664

Review quote

?Dennett has taken on really big issues, made them clear, dealt with them seriously and given us much on which to reflect. . . . Crisp and critically insightful.? ("The Washington Post Book World") One of the most original thinkers of our time.? ("Science")show more

Review Text

Humans are physical beings with evolved brains and evolved minds. Humans are also moral agents with consciousness and will. How should we try to reconcile these very different visions of our humanness? Since human freedom is real, 'so it can be studied objectively from a no-nonsense, scientific point of view.' And in Freedom Evolves, Dennett attempts to produce just such a no-nonsense, scientific account of human freedom, to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable. The conventional arguments against both free will, on the one hand, and scientific materialism, on the other, rests on the belief that in a deterministic universe there is simply no room for freedom. Not so, says Dennett. Such a view confuses determinism and inevitability. Suppose I'm playing baseball and the pitcher chucks the ball directly at my face. I turn my head to avoid it. There was, therefore, nothing inevitable about the ball hitting my face. But, a sceptic might say, I turned my head not of my own free will but was caused to do so by factors beyond my control. That is to misunderstand the nature of causation, Dennett retorts. What really caused me to turn my head was not a set of deterministic links cascading back to the beginnings of the universe - though that certainly exists - but my desire at that moment not to get hit by the baseball. At a different moment I might decide to take a hit in the face, if by doing so I help my team win the game. Dennett argues that freedom is not an illusion but an objective phenomenon, distinct from all other biological conditions and found only in one species - us. A profound and important book. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Daniel C. Dennett

Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's DangerouS Idea. He is currently the Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.He lives in North Andover, more

Rating details

2,035 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 28% (576)
4 36% (738)
3 26% (521)
2 7% (148)
1 3% (52)
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