Cogprints

Hitting the Nail on the Head

Dennett, Daniel (1992) Hitting the Nail on the Head. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This is a valuable antidote to several different ill-examined preconceptions, but I don't think it has quite succeeded in unmasking and neutralizing the bogey that motivates them all. I shall attempt to do this be reinforcing, with minor caveats, some of the authors' main points. In defense of their 'enactive' account, the authors occasionally protest too much. For instance, the trouble with (external) objectivism is not that it makes the mistake of holding the external environment constant, setting a problem for the organism. Following Levins and Lewontin, they insist on the role of the organism in creating its visual environment, but this is a process that occurs almost entirely on an evolutionary time scale. It is true, as Lewontin has often pointed out, that the chemical composition of the atmosphere, for instance, is as much a product of the activity of living organisms as a precondition of their life, but it is also true that it can be safely treated as a constant, since its changes in response to local organismic activity are usually insignificant as variables in interaction with the variables under scrutiny. The same is true of the colors of objects: they have indeed co-evolved with the color-vision systems of the organisms, but, except on an evolutionary time scale, they are in the main imperturbable by organisms' perceptual activity.

Item Type:Preprint
Subjects:Philosophy > Logic
Philosophy > Philosophy of Science
ID Code:269
Deposited By:Dennett, Daniel
Deposited On:14 Apr 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53

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