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Wallace Wurth Lecture: Daniel Dennett on Consciousness

24 September 2018
6.30pm – 7.45pm AEST
Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW Sydney
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Daniel Dennett



What have we learned in the last fifty years?

It’s one of the complex puzzles we have tried to solve; the nature of human consciousness.

Debates about free will, morality, the differences between humans and animals, and the distinction between brain and mind are staples of the explorations of consciousness by philosophers and scientists.

Philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett has been at the forefront of these debates since the start of his career, asking big questions about consciousness and how it has evolved.

The last 50 years have seen the proliferation of knowledge about the human brain, and the nature of evolutionary processes. How has this influenced our understanding of consciousness?

Hear Dennett discuss the problems that we have solved, and challenge us with what remains to be explained.

Daniel Dennett protrait

Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist. His work explores philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. Dennett is the co-director of the Centre for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.

He is an atheist and secularist, a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, and is known as one of the 'Four Horsemen of New Atheism', along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens.

As well as being widely cited by academic peers, he has written extensively for a general audience with books including:

  • Consciousness Explained (1992)
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1996)
  • Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (1997)
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006)
  • From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017).

In 2014, after more than 40 summers hobby farming in Maine, he sold his farm and bought a house on an island in Maine, where he can pursue less strenuous activities while continuing his research.

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