(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Dennett's ambition is an empirical theory of the mind. By extending the Cartesian Theatre (the idea that there is a centered locus in the brain that directs consciousness) with a multiple draft model (in which all varieties of perceptions and thoughts are accomplished by parallel, multitrack brain processes), Dennett offers an explanation of how the brain represents time, anchored around the principle that "probing precipitates narratives" (people are not always conscious of what is happening to them). Consciousness is spread around the brain and in time. Consciousness is nonlocalized and nonlinear. Despite the apparent unity and continuity of our experience, consciousness does not involve the existence of a single central self, but arises from the interaction with the environment.
Consciousness exists because it helps survive and it evolved from non-consciousness to reasoning and then to memes. Dennett thinks that qualia, and conscious states in general, don't exist. Consciousness is a collection of memes. The brain is a computer that collects memes.
The mind must be reduced to a set of cognitive functions. Each function must be reduced to simpler cognitive problems. And so forth, each time reducing the intelligence needed to solve the problem, until we reach a level at which problems can be solved with no more intelligence than the one that can be found in a machine. At each level the behavior of a system is given by the interaction of a set of interconnected components ("homunculi"). Each component's behavior is itself defined by a set of interconnected components.
Consciousness is due to the coexistence of a number of independent brain systems. They are integrated by language. It is the inner monologue that relates all the independent subsystems and creates consciousness.
Having relied massively on Artificial Intelligence ideas, Dennett also takes aim at Searle's chinese room thought experiment and attacks each of its three premises.