Freedom Evolves by Daniel C. Dennett

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Daniel C. Dennett is a brilliant polemicist, famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies. Over the last thirty years, he has played a major role in expanding our understanding of consciousness, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory. And with such groundbreaking, critically acclaimed books as Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea (a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist), he has reached a huge general and professional audience.

In this new book, Dennett shows that evolution is the key to resolving the ancient problems of moral and political freedom. Like the planet's atmosphere on which life depends, the conditions on which our freedom depends had to evolve, and like the atmosphere, they continue to evolve-and could be extinguished. According to Dennett, biology provides the perspective from which we can distinguish the varieties of freedom that matter. Throughout the history of life on this planet, an interacting web and internal and external conditions have provided the frameworks for the design of agents that are more free than their parts-from the unwitting gropings of the simplest life forms to the more informed activities of animals to the moral dilemmas that confront human beings living in societies.

As in his previous books, Dennett weaves a richly detailed narrative enlivened by analogies as entertaining as they are challenging. Here is the story of how we came to be different from all other creatures, how our early ancestors mindlessly created human culture, and then, how culture gave us our minds, our visions, our moral problems-in a nutshell, our freedom.

About Daniel C. Dennett

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Daniel C. Dennett is a professor and the director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His books include Consciousness Explained and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Published February 10, 2003 by Viking Adult. 368 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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His claim, then, is that the existence of human freedom, free choice, free action, free will is entirely compatible with materialism, naturalism, determinism and the theory of evolution.

Mar 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Freedom Evolves

The Guardian

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And with that increase goes a steadily increasing degree of freedom: "The freedom of the bird to fly wherever it wants is definitely a kind of freedom, a distinct improvement on the freedom of the jellyfish to float wherever it floats, but a poor cousin of our human freedom...

Mar 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Freedom Evolves

Publishers Weekly

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This book comprises a kind of toolbox of intellectual exercises favoring cultural evolution, the idea that culture, morality and freedom are as much a result of evolution by natural selection as our physical and genetic attributes.

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London Review of Books

‘No,’ I answer: ‘Conjuring tricks, not real magic.’ Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

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