Daniel Dennett - Consciousness Explained (1991)
13 Sourced Quotes
I find it breathtaking [...] that when musical composition competitions are held, the contestants often do not submit tapes or records (or live performances) of their works they submit written scored, and the judges confidently make their aesthetic judgements on the basis of just reading the scores and hearing the music in their minds. How good are the best musical imaginations? Can a trained musician, swiftly reading a score tell just how that voicing of dissonant oboes and flutes over the massed strings will sound?
If the concept of consciousness were to fall to science, what would happen to our sense of moral agency and free will? If conscious experience were reduced somehow to mere matter in motion, what would happen to our appreciation of love and pain and dreams and joy? If conscious human beings were just animated material objects, how could anything we do to them be right or wrong?
Up till now [the development of proto-consciousness], we can suppose, nervous systems solved the "Now what do I do?" problem by a relatively simple balancing act between a strictly limited repertoire of actions — if not the famous four F's (fight, flee, feed, or mate), then a modest elaboration of them.
The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore, so it eats it! (It's rather like getting tenure). The analogy between the sea squirt and the associate professor was first pointed out, I think, by the neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinas.