more from Daniel Dennett

Single Idea 7657

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 2. Reduction of Mind]

Full Idea

As long as your homunculi are more stupid and ignorant than the intelligent agent they compose, the nesting of homunculi within homunculi can be finite, bottoming out, eventually, with agents so unimpressive they can be replaced by machines.


'Homunculi' are little men

Gist of Idea

Intelligent agents are composed of nested homunculi, of decreasing intelligence, ending in machines


Daniel Dennett (Sweet Dreams [2005], Ch.6)

Book Reference

Dennett,Daniel: 'Sweet Dreams' [MIT 2005], p.137

A Reaction

[Dennett first proposed this in 'Brainstorms' 1978]. This view was developed well by Lycan. I rate it as one of the most illuminating ideas in the modern philosophy of mind. All complex systems (like aeroplanes) have this structure.