Ideas from 'Elbow Room: varieties of free will' by Daniel Dennett [1984], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Elbow Room - Free will worth wanting' by Dennett,Daniel [MIT 1999,0-262-54042-8]].

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / a. Philosophy as worldly
An overexamined life is as bad as an unexamined one
                        Full Idea: The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the overexamined life is nothing to write home about either.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §4.2)
                        A reaction: Presumably he means a life which is all theory and no practice. Compare Idea 343.
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
Rationality requires the assumption that things are either for better or worse
                        Full Idea: We must assume that something matters - that some things are for better and some things are for worse, for without that our assumed rationality would have nothing on which to get a purchase.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §7.1)
                        A reaction: It does seem that rationality wouldn't exist as an activity without some value to motivate it.
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / c. Possible but inconceivable
Why pronounce impossible what you cannot imagine?
                        Full Idea: You say you cannot imagine that p, and therefore declare that p is impossible. Mightn't that be hubris?
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §7.3)
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 2. Causal Justification
Causal theories require the "right" sort of link (usually unspecified)
                        Full Idea: In causal theories of knowledge and reference, the causal chain between object and thought must be of the "right" sort - the nature of rightness to be specified later, typically.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §3.3 n14)
                        A reaction: This is now the standard objection to a purely causal account of reference. Which of the many causal chains causes the meaning? Knowledge of maths is a further problem for it.
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
I am the sum total of what I directly control
                        Full Idea: Control is the ultimate criterion of the self: I am the sum total of the parts I control directly.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §4.2)
                        A reaction: This looks awfully like a flagrant self-contradiction, and I think it is. It seems pretty obvious that there is at least a distinction between the bit or bits that do the controlling, and the bits that get controlled.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
You can be free even though force would have prevented you doing otherwise
                        Full Idea: If a brain implant would compel you to perform an action which you in fact freely choose, then you are free, but couldn't have done otherwise.
                        From: report of Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §6.1) by PG - Db (ideas)
Can we conceive of a being with a will freer than our own?
                        Full Idea: Can I even conceive of beings whose wills are freer than our own?
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §7.3)
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
Foreknowledge permits control
                        Full Idea: Foreknowledge is what permits control.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §3.2)
Awareness of thought is a step beyond awareness of the world
                        Full Idea: The creature who is not only sensitive to patterns in its environment, but also sensitive to patterns in its own reactions to patterns in its environment, has taken a major step.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §2.2)
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 3. Intentional Stance
The active self is a fiction created because we are ignorant of our motivations
                        Full Idea: Faced with our inability to 'see' where the centre or source of our free actions is,…we exploit the gaps in our self-knowledge by filling it with a mysterious entity, the unmoved mover, the active self.
                        From: Daniel Dennett (Elbow Room: varieties of free will [1984], §4.1)
                        A reaction: I am convinced that there is no such things as free will; its origins are to be found in religion, where it is a necessary feature of a very supreme God. I don't believe for a moment that we need to believe in free will.