Daniel Dennett Biography

Daniel Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist. This biography offers detailed information about his life, career, works and timeline.

Daniel Dennett
Quick Facts

Birthday: March 28, 1942

Nationality: American

Famous: Atheists Philosophers

Age: 77 Years, 77 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Daniel Clement Dennett III

Born in: Boston, Massachusetts

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Susan Bell Dennett

father: Daniel Clement Dennett Jr.

mother: Ruth Marjorie

siblings: Charlotte Dennett

City: Boston

U.S. State: Massachusetts

More Facts

education: University of Oxford (1965), Harvard University (1963), Christ Church, Oxford, Wesleyan University, Phillips Exeter Academy

awards: 2012 - Erasmus Prize
2001 - Jean Nicod Prize

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Daniel Dennett is an American philosopher and writer who has created a stir in the world through his ground-breaking research on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology - particularly those fields related to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he was first introduced to philosophy at the age of 11. Ever since then, he was attracted by the subject and went on to pursue his education in the same. In 1965, he attained his doctorate degree in philosophy and thereafter took up a teaching position at UC Irvine post which he chaired as the University Professor at the University of Tufts which he continues till date. Furthermore, he serves as the co-director of the Centre for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy. An ardent atheist and secularist, he is popularly known as one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism. Additionally, he is a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board.

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Daniel Dennett
Childhood & Early Life
  • Daniel Dennett was born to Ruth Marjorie and Daniel Clement Dennett Jr in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Young Dennett spent major part of his early years in Lebanon where his father worked as a secret counter intelligence agent with the Office of Strategic Services posing as a cultural attach� to the American Embassy
  • At the age of five, he returned to Massachusetts after the death of his father in a mysterious plane crash. It was at the age of 11 that he was introduced to philosophy during a summer camp.
  • He attended Philips Exeter Academy after which he enrolled for a year at the Wesleyan University. In 1963, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Harvard University
  • Completing his graduate studies, he enrolled at the University of Oxford for further studies under Gilbert Ryle. In 1965, he passed out with a Doctorate of Philosophy. While at the university, he was a member of Hertford College
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Career
  • Following his doctorate degree, he took up a teaching position at UC Irvine for six years, from 1965 to 1971. Thereafter, he moved to the University of Tufts where he has been serving as a Professor till date.
  • Additionally, he also serves as the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy.
  • While continuing in his teaching position, he came up with a number of publications, the first of which was “Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology”. Published in 1978, the book deals with artificial intelligence and uses the same to develop his ideas on consciousness.
  • Following this, he came up with the works ‘The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflection on Self and Soul’ in 1981 and ‘Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting’ in 1984. The latter dealt with philosophical issues related to free will and determinism.
  • While working on the philosophical theories pertaining to mind, biology and science, he coined a term ‘intentional stance’ that described the level of abstraction and mental properties that we view regarding the behaviour of things. He came up with three levels of abstraction, the physical stance, the design stance and intentional stance.
  • In 1991, he came up with the work ‘Consciousness Explained’ in which he dealt with how physical and cognitive processes in the brain lead to an awakening of the consciousness. In the book, he explained the multiple drafts model of consciousness
  • Starting 1990s, he concentrated much of his work on the evolutionary debate concentrating on what distinguishes a human mind from the animal mind and how free will is compatible with the naturalistic view of the world. He brought about certain theories which greatly influenced the works of evolutionary psychologist, Geoffrey Miller
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  • In 1995, he came up with his magnum opus, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, in which he crashed on the Darwinism theory of evolution that explained natural selection was a mechanical and algorithmic process. The book was nominated and rose up to become a finalist for the 1995 National Book Award in non-fiction and the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.
  • Taking the concepts explained in ‘Intentional Stance’, ‘Elbow Room’ and ‘Consciousness Explained’ further, he came out with a book in 2003 titled ‘Freedom Evolves’. The book gave an account of free will and moral responsibilities that was in sync with his views on consciousness and personhood.
  • His later works include, ‘Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon’, ‘Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness’, ‘Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language’, Science and Religion’, ‘Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking’ and ‘Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind’
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Awards & Achievements
  • He is the proud recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
  • In 2004, the American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year. He even received a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism
  • In 2010, he was enlisted in the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers
  • In 2012, he received the Erasmus Prize for his contribution in translating the cultural significance of science and technology to a wide range of audience.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • He tied the marital knot with Susan Bell in 1962. The couple has been blessed with a son and a daughter. They reside in North Andover, Massachusetts.
  • Not many know the fact that other than being a philosopher, he is an avid sailor as well.
  • A secularist, he is a member of the Secular Coalition for America Security Board and is an outspoken member of the Brights movement.
  • A string atheist, he is often referred to as one of the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’ along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens
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Trivia
  • An American philosopher and cognitive scientist, he is popularly known as one of the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’.
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Article Title
- Daniel Dennett Biography
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- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
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Last Updated
- January 09, 2018

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