Daniel Dennett is a panpsychist. He wouldn’t admit it in public, and he might not even realize it. Yet Dennett, one of the foremost materialists in the early part of the 21st century, advocates views regarding consciousness, biology, and philosophy that unavoidably lead to that most ridiculous of philosophical views: that all things have some degree of consciousness, otherwise known as panpsychism.
For those who don’t know, Dan Dennett is a professor of philosophy at Tufts University in Massachusetts. I had the good fortune of meeting Dennett recently and found that he is in fact a very pleasant man, courteous, and with a great sense of humor.
Dennett has written numerous books, including, most recently, Breaking the Spell, an anti-religion screed that places him firmly among the “new atheists” school of thought. The new atheists, which include Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others, take as their primary target the traditional view of God as a creator and patriarch who exercises an ongoing role in his creation. This traditional view, known as theism, is quite hard to defend for anyone who has scientific or philosophical training. But Dennett and the rest of the new atheists go too far, in my view, in rejecting most notions of divinity as part and parcel of their rejection of traditional religion.
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