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Daniel Dennett: It's Evolution Baby
Episode 642nd February 2023 • Decoding the Gurus • Christopher Kavanagh and Matthew Browne
00:00:00 02:34:20

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In this episode, we take a bit of a detour from current trends and examine a talk by the philosopher Daniel Dennett on evolution. Dennett rose to public prominence as one of the so-called four horsemen of the New Athiest movement but he always seemed slightly out of place with that cohort. Dennett's is most certainly a guru in the sense that he offers big picture 'what does it all mean' lectures linking together consciousness, intelligence, the emergence of complexity and evolution. But is there some substance there? Or does his appeal hinge on on intuitively-satisfying cosmic woo offered by less reputable figures.

On a positive note, he seemed to be more interested in academic and philosophical debates than the latest culture war outrage. As such he doesn't share that much with our usual targets... and that's ok! Sometimes it is good to look at figures who fall closer to the standard public intellectual or academic motif than that of the secular guru. At the very least it helps to calibrate our gurometer! So join us for a slightly indulgent episode on a figure that we both broadly enjoy despite the inevitable nit-picking.

An extended introduction section will also reveal our first DTG conspiracy hypothesis, the mating habits of orcs and dragons, and what Nazi AIs have in common with Robocop. And stick around at the end to hear about the future of education from the Petersons!