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Dennett's Rhetorical Strategies in "Consciousness Explained"

Anthony A. Derksen
Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie
Vol. 36, No. 1 (2005), pp. 29-48
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25171302
Page Count: 20
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Dennett's Rhetorical Strategies in "Consciousness Explained"
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Abstract

Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" (1991) is an inspiring but also a highly frustrating book. The line of the argument seems to be clear, but then at second sight it fades away. It turns out that Dennett uses six of the seven strategies which I discuss in my 'The Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist: A Look into Freud's Rhetorical Tool Box' (J. Gen. Phil. Sci., 2001) Discussing important examples of these strategies I show why "Consciousness Explained" is such a frustrating book. As the examples used do not reflect minor problems but go to the heart of the matter and concern the book's main areas of contention, it turns out that, in spite of the valuable and insightful details, Dennett's materialistic view of consciousness is supported mainly by rhetorical sleights of hand.

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