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ibarkas's picture

The more I read Dennett,

The more I read Dennett, the more I realize that I am having trouble trusting him and making the connections he wants us to make.  When beginning to read Dennett, I was a little bit suprised by his initial comment that those who do not believe that natural selection is a very real process are ignorant.  I understood this to be a very nonfoundationalist statement.  However, the more I read, the more I begin to wonder if Dennett is himself a foundationalist.  He makes numerous statements throughout the text that to me scream foundationalist.  I may not fully understand where Dennet's statements fall along the nonfoundationalist-foundationalist continuum because perhaps, I  myself have not fully understood the term foundationliast. Does a foundational story needs to have a foundation in the beginning? Or does it need to be working towards a final foundation? Can it be either one or does it have to be both? Does a foundational story need to be unchanging or can it be a changing story with a foundation? I know we had discussed foundational stories a while ago, but I did not realize why I was having so much trouble believing Dennet until I realized perhaps, I still have not defined what it means to be a foundationalist.

I am also having trouble understanding where Dennett's argument is going and what his ultimate conclusion will be.  When first beginning to read Denett, I was excited by the statement he makes on page 22 in the introduction.  Dennett asks his audience, "Do you want to follow me? Don't you really want to know what survives this confrontation? What if it turns out that the sweet vision-or a better one-survives intact, strengthened and deepend by the encounter?"  I was excited by this because as someone who is having trouble reconciling my reiligious upbringing with my scientific intuition, Dennet's welcome to follow him in this confrontation implied to me that after considering both sides of this confrontation, as readers we would come out with a renewed idea of what evolution means to us-not necessarily Dennet's idea, but one in which we are able to reconcile our own ideas with those that we are taught to be scientifically accurate.  In other words, maybe I was hoping for this confrontation to serve as the "universal acid" that Dennet refers to.  Maybe I was hoping that somehow this confrontation would change my vision of evolution into one that is "less fragile" as Dennett says.  However, I find that Dennett does not really provide us with a confrontation, but rather numerous reasons and metaphors proving that natural selection has to be a real process.  Although I definitely agree with Dennet and find many of the metaphors he uses to be extremely helpful, I also can't help but feel like I was misled.  


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