Daniel Dennett is mired in the mud of consciousness
The New Atlantis recently published a very interesting article written by David Bentley Hart, a fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. The article notes in the attribution that Hart is the author, most recently, of The Hidden and the Manifest: Essays in Theology and Metaphysics (Eerdmans, 2017) and The New Testament: A Translation (Yale, 2017). He is also the author of the enjoyable Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.
In the New Atlantis article entitled, "The Illusionist: Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness," Hart evaluates the latest book by Daniel Dennett entitled From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. The article is gracious towards Dennett, but does an excellent job of pointing out some of the holes in Dennett's thinking.
For example, early in the article, Hart makes the following point:
After five decades, it would be astonishing if Dennett were to change direction now. But, by the same token, his project should over that time have acquired not only more complexity, but greater sophistication. And yet it has not. For instance, he still thinks it a solvent critique of Cartesianism to say that interactions between bodies and minds would violate the laws of physics. Apart from involving a particularly doctrinaire view of the causal closure of the physical (the positively Laplacian fantasy that all physical events constitute an inviolable continuum of purely physical causes), this argument clumsily assumes that such an interaction would constitute simply another mechanical exchange of energy in addition to material forces.Overall, the article is interesting to read, and I recommend it as a reasonable critique of Dennett's work.
In the end, Dennett’s approach has remained largely fixed. Rather than a sequence of careful logical arguments, his method remains, as ever, essentially fabulous: That is, he constructs a grand speculative narrative, comprising a disturbing number of sheer assertions, and an even more disturbing number of missing transitions between episodes. It is often quite a beguiling tale, but its power of persuasion lies in its sprawling relentlessness rather than its cogency.