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Biography of a philosopher

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PHILOSOPHY BOWLING RESULTS

• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Here is part I of an intellectual autobiography Daniel C. Dennett is writing. I find it extremely interesting, if only for the glimpse of what it was like to be a talented and dedicated student of philosophy at Harvard and then Oxford in the 1960s.

The thesis was duly typed up in triplicate and handed in (by a professional typist, back in those days before word-processing). I anxiously awaited the day when Quine and young Charles Parsons, my examiners, would let me know what they made of it. Quine showed up with maybe half a dozen single-spaced pages of comments. I knew at that moment that I was going to be a philosopher.

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1 Comment

  1. Rob says:

    This, to judge by his many presentations available available online, struck me as something he’s taken to heart as a practical principle:

    “You seldom talk anybody out of a position by arguing directly with their premises and inferences. Sometimes it is more effective to nudge them sideways with images, examples, helpful formulations that stick to their habits of thought.”

    Like

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