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eglaser's picture

In a footnote

For this post I wish to discuss a problem I came across during my reading of Dennett for last week. We spent some time on the quote on page 346 in our group which spoke of how thoughts and ideas simply pop into a persons mind without their having to do much about it. The quote in question is cited as having been uttered by Mozart which would be a great support of Dennett's argument if it weren't for the footnote he slips in at the bottom of the page. In this footnote he casually explains that the quote he uses to support his theory was not spoken by Mozart at all but, "the passage so well suits my purposes that I am choosing to ignore its pedigree."

This footnote deeply shook my ability to read Dennett and take his argument seriously. Although this inclusion of one misquoted quote is not a serious issue in and of itself it raised the question of how much has Dennett ignored, omitted or misquoted in other sections of the book because the information so well suited his purposes? To include this in a published, persuasive book that spends much of its time insulting its readers for believing in unproven information is... well, a little ridiculous. 

In its place, what else could have been used to support Dennett's argument and why did he choose to use this quote when he knew that it was false? I'm afraid that I have lost all confidence in an author who willfully uses misinformation to support his theories.

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