Dennett's Philosophy:
A Comprehensive Assessment

Don Ross, Andrew Brook + David Thompson (editors)

The MIT Press 2000
A book review by Danny Yee © 2001
Those interested in Daniel Dennett won't want to miss this book, which contains papers by fourteen philosophers on different aspects of his work, along with a response by Dennett himself. The "comprehensive assessment" claim is an exaggeration, but the collection spans a broad range: it focuses on Dennett's core areas of meaning and consciousness, but extends to his work on evolution and ethics. Most of the papers are more technical and less accessible than Dennett's own books, however, so the volume is not an ideal introduction to his work and may not appeal to those who only know him through books such as Darwin's Dangerous Idea and The Mind's I.

Dennett has always refused to build a grand system and some of the contributors clearly find this frustrating: many of the papers are less assessments of his work than attempts to pin him down, to place his ideas into a broader system or in some cases to construct such a system for them. Others attack Dennett on different fronts. In his sixty page response "With a Little Help From My Friends" Dennett finds some suggestions useful, rebuts criticisms, and gracefully and urbanely refuses to be systematized.

The papers:

September 2001

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%T Dennett's Philosophy
%S A Comprehensive Assessment
%E Ross, Don
%E Brook, Andrew
%E Thompson, David
%I The MIT Press
%D 2000
%O paperback, references, index
%G ISBN 026268117X
%P x,397pp