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From Bacteria to Bach and Back Audiobook

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds

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Publisher's Summary

What is human consciousness, and how is it possible? This question fascinates thinking people from poets and painters to physicists, psychologists, and philosophers. From Bacteria to Bach and Back is Daniel C. Dennett's brilliant answer, extending perspectives from his earlier work in surprising directions, exploring the deep interactions of evolution, brains, and human culture.

Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett's legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought. In his inimitable style - laced with wit and arresting thought experiments - Dennett shows how culture enables reflection by installing a bounty of thinking tools, or memes, in our brains. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. The result, a mind that can comprehend the questions it poses, emerges from a process of cultural evolution.

An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and other researchers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone who hopes to understand human creativity in all its wondrous applications.

©2017 Daniel C. Dennett (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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4.2 (34 )
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4.1 (24 )
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  •  
    G Douglas Whistler 12/03/2017 Member Since 2015
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    "An excellent Dennett exploration"

    This brilliant exploration through many fields of investigation is another triumph for one of the deepest thinking philosophers of our times. His style, as always, is accessible, clear, jovial, and entertaining, while his conclusions and food for thought are fascinating and convincing. An excellent new book, which invaluably updates, reexplains, and delves deeper into ideas with which listeners may already be familiar through his "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", "Consciousness Explained", "Freedom Evolves", and "Breaking the Spell".

    The performance in this version is very strong; Perkins' voice and tone suit Dennett's style well, and he is to be praised for dealing well with Dennett's occasionally idiosyncratic sentence structure and use of grammatical syntax. There are several pronunciation mistakes, but nothing to distract from the text.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr M F C Rose BRIGHTON, SUSSEX United Kingdom 10/04/2017
    Mr M F C Rose BRIGHTON, SUSSEX United Kingdom 10/04/2017
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    "Stunning vision of how minds evolved"

    I have a few Buddhist friends who must read this (they won't). Anyone of any spiritual bent should have a go. It presents a very different view to that of Deepak et al. It's grounded in science and destroys any dualist or monist interpretations. It isn't nihilistic/materialistic nor is it eternalism/essentialism. I think Dennett would agree with Nagarjuna (if he ever posited anything!) and show him a thing or two from the western 21st Century sciences. Long live the memes in this brilliant summation of Dennett's life-long exploration of the what (for), how and why of consciousness.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 25/04/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Waste of tine"

    I love the topic of consiouseness and evolution, but this was utterlly boaring and uninsightful. Nothing really new to the basic concepts of evolution, memes and mind theories.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Mark
    Raglan, New Zealand
    15/03/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "How come there is a 'me'?"

    Consciousness has always been the greatest mystery to me. I fully believe in the idea that human beings are mammals evolved in accordance with the principles of Darwinian natural selection. I’m an atheist and I love the writing of people like Dawkins, Pinker and Hume, who are referred to often in this book.

    It seems clear to me that there are also other animals who experience consciousness. By that I don’t mean that they are intelligent, although the ones I’m thinking of do have above average intelligence in the animal kingdom (dogs, cats, seals, dolphins, etc) but that they are aware of their experiences. They see and feel what is happening to them. They feel pain, hunger, fear – there’s more to it than just behaviouristic responses to environmental stimuli. I just don’t understand where this consciousness in humans and other animals came from.

    I understand how the presence of the nervous system and painful stimuli will serve the Darwinian purpose of preventing you from doing damage to yourself, but I’ve never understood where the ‘me’ comes from who really feels the pain when I stub my toe. How do you get a ‘me’ from the movement of electricity through the central nervous system? If you built a computer as complicated as the human brain would it develop a ‘me’ and be ‘aware’? – I don’t think so (but I really don’t know that for sure).

    This book addresses this question. Does it provide the answer? Sadly, no, not for me. It provides lots of interesting and helpful insights into the evolution of intelligence, but, unless I just didn’t get it, it doesn’t explain for me the emergent property of consciousness.

    I’d still highly recommend it. I enjoyed every bit of it. I think I might listen to it again. But it didn’t answer the question for me. Maybe the question is unanswerable. Maybe it is beyond our understanding. Maybe we just have to accept that consciousness is just another of the many emergent properties that we see all around us in the natural and cultural world. I still don’t know.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Adam
    13/02/17
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    "The only other review was so bad that I wrote this"
    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who has read any other work by Dennett knows what to expect. You're in for 15 hours of lucid, thought provoking prose guiding you through some of the deepest questions out there. There is no need to give any credence to the only other review so far which seems to be motivated solely by jealousy.

    37 of 46 people found this review helpful
  • David J. Zugman
    11/03/17
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    "Consciousness explained and expanded"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Daniel Dennett has an amazing brain and is a wordsmith of the 1st rank. It is astounding how much of Consciousness Explained's foresight is brought to fruition. Anyone thinking of artificial intelligence and what it might mean for society would do well to read this book. And anybody not thinking of it should.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    1001 words is worth more than a picture. Great line, though his best remains, I think, "he's fighting a strawman and the strawman is winning."


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    Las Cruces, NM, United States
    03/03/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Nature designs competently"

    There is intelligent design. It's just not what the creationist think it is. Nature gives us competencies without comprehension. Comprehension means full understanding. Dennett gives the example of how the computer can do arithmetic without understanding as explained by Turing. His holy trinity within this book are Turing, Hume and Darwin. Each thinker provides an inversion to our 'manifest' knowledge by allowing an opening to the window to scientific knowledge. He'll explain in detail how each thinker allowed us to see the world differently but in an 'inverted way'. They all gave us an 'ontology' (his word) of the world for which we live in. Ontologies can be thought of as the furniture that makes up the world, the pieces of the things that we use to explain the world under consideration, the structure, the foundation, the ground, or the first principles.

    Dennett is never afraid to talk down to his reader. Pernicious teleology is how we think naturally as humans. We always impute a reason for the way things are. We accidentally assume a 'why' for the way things are, because that's how we think because we always assume meaning. "Teleology is never free" as he says in the book. We use science to redirect us back to the 'how' things are. There is no over all meaning for the way things became the way they are (at least I don't know the reason). Dennett is really big on emphasizing that 'free will' is an illusion in as much as that cause will always precede effect within the human realm (yes, there is an exception at the quantum level, but we don't control that, and it is not at our mercy), and if there was a great Judge in the sky or any where else, he would not be able to judge us knowing that we are the way we are because we were made that way and time and chance determined who we are. And as Dennett goes on to explain in this book, we still must be held accountable for our actions on earth, but, again, a great Judge in the sky can't hold us responsible for our actions because we don't happen in a vacuum we are a result of the world we are thrown into. Dennett doesn't say it but St. Augustine created the concept of free will as to be the analogous power that God had when he freely created the universe and that similarly resides in us in order that God can judge us. Yes, I know Aristotle uses the word 'free will' but he meant something different and closer to Dennett's compatibilitist definition.

    There's a template to the story that he's telling within this book that could be found in another book that I've read, "Master Algorithm". My mind kept referring back to that book as I was listening to this book and in the last chapter or so he tells you about that book in detail. I really loved that book but only rated it three stars because of two reasons 1) I didn't like its conclusions and 2) it was concise but overly complex in its presentation. I don't mind complexity in my books but I would not really recommend it to others because it could be very hard to follow. But, all the themes that were in that book are in this book. He called them tribes in the book "Master Algorithm".

    One of the tribes was Bayesian statistics. Our expectations based on prior experiences shape how we accept the present. That's what Bayesian statistics do for us. There is a really formal definition but it would involve probability functions, but at the heart that is what it is. Dennett relies on the heuristic to explain this. So I will too. The "Master Algorithm" shows how we are currently taking 'the inverse of the program and using machine learning' to solve complex problems through the aid of the computer. Dennett talks about Google and its language translation program which has done that brilliantly. It's a bottom up approach instead of a top down approach. Our mind and evolution both seem to work from the bottom up also. Cool stuff. But, Dennett only saved this stuff for the last chapter.

    Dennett definitely has a mind set that I tended to disagree with in this book. His very long section on the meme and culture over looked the reality of epigenetics and just briefly noted it and that was only to tacitly ignore it. Epigenetics are real. Just read Science News or check up on the Belgium babies born at the very end of WW II (June 1944 to May 1945) under the needlessly cruel Nazi occupation and see the analysis which is explained by epigenetics. Dennett takes TOM (theory of mind) and mirror neurons more seriously than I think should be warranted. He's trying to explain that our consciousness comes about through by the shaping of our environment by our behaviors. It's one way of looking at the problem, but maybe not the best. Popper (logical positivist) and Skinner (behaviorism) are probably not the right way to frame the extremes (imo) as he seems to do within the text. There just seems to be a another story that could be told.

    I really love Dennett. I've read four of his other books, and three of them are in my favorites list. I was little bit disappointed in this book because most of it was review for me, and I don't really agree with his behaviorism point of view in the development of consciousness, and I didn't really agree with his development of language as he presented it. Also, one can argue there is no proper ontology to the world (see Wittgenstein for details, e.g.), and embracing Hume (who is my favorite philosopher) leads to 'facon de parler' (Dennets phrase, means 'convenient fiction'), which doesn't bother me, but needs to be reckoned with in the context of the philosophy of science. I don't mind reading some one who I disagree with but I do mind not learning much more than what I've read in other books on the same topic.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Carlos F. Pardo V
    London, UK
    22/06/17
    Overall
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    "Great summary and new views of Dennett's work"

    The book is very good, though I had read others from him before and am relatively knowledgeable on these topics so to me it was more of a summary plus some new ideas

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    18/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Extremely dense sections and very hard to follow in audio"

    I found this book very hard to understand. It was unclear what the main arguments of the author were and how the topics relate to those arguments. I struggled through part 1 and now returning the book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • PoeticLicensedk
    11/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth a 2nd & 3rd reading."

    If as a learner and citizen of 21st century America I stand on the shoulders of giants, Dennett's exploration of the "how come" and "what for" of consciousness is a critical foothold for futher explorations. Grand in scope, but sufficiently detailed, From Bacteria to Bach establishes critical distinctions which I can use to avoid the many pitfalls of discussions about the future of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I will also purchase a printed copy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Spike da Peke
    Central Jersey
    05/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Brilliant, Entré to Philosophy of Mind"
    Would you listen to From Bacteria to Bach and Back again? Why?

    No, as brilliant and intriguing as this book is, I could not get past the 2nd chapter listening to the exaggerated, overly modulated voice of Tom Perkins.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is erudite without artifice and convincing in its conclusions. In spite of the poor narration, the ideas are both engaging and important, perhaps the most important book I've read in decades (and as a philosopher, I read a lot of supposedly important books).


    Did Tom Perkins do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    N/A.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Blow Your Mind" [over the picture of a soap-bubble being blown]


    Any additional comments?

    I thought enough of Dennett's book that even though I came to find the narrator's imitation of an unhappy primary school teacher intensely unpleasant, I bought a copy of the book rather than just put it in the electronic wastebin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The third Chimp
    19/05/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "Not a book on science, but on phylosophy"

    This is not a book on science, but on phylosophy and not a very good one at that... Quite poorly written, the author rambles on for a very long time, repeating himself often and dwelling on subjects that were already understood by any readers many pages ago, for chapters without end. The book also lacks structure, with chapters following each other with very poor cohesion.
    On the plus side, there is an interesting analisys on the evolution of language, although this is also quite repetitive.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dedra Demaree
    01/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Long!!"

    This book felt like a chore to get through. Unfortunately, because the topic was very interesting

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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