Where Am I by Daniel Dennett

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Dennett is a damned genius. Actually, all philosophers tend to be, in their own respective ways. They bend logic like putty with their minds. Or sometimes, they present logic, without their minds. Without their brains, to be more precise. Dennett’s essay, aptly entitled ‘Where am I?’, can be found in ‘Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology’, and uses a scenario almost (and I use almost) like a conceit to discuss where the self might be within us – body, brain, mind…perhaps in hyperspace, in non-existence. It is written in the style of a speech, or address to an audience, particularly obvious (and important) at the end, where Dennett’s ‘alter-ego’ takes over his body. The scenario is basically as follows: Dennett is asked by the Pentagon to undertake an extremely dangerous, secret, but important mission to retrieve a radioactive warhead lodged deep underground. He is told that he must undergo a brain removal operation, as the warhead’s radioactive rays only affect the brain, and nowhere else. Dennett eventually agrees, and after the operation, goes to visit his brain, slightly dizzied. On seeing his brain, he wonders why it is that, if thought originates in the brain, his perception is stemming from the body – should it not be vice versa? And try as he might, he cannot change his view that he is seeing his brain from his body, and not his body from his brain. He then considers the impracticalities of applying law and order to a disembodied brain, or a debrained body, or both – an entirely ridiculous notion, as he proves. He then suggests that the self, or the perceiving self, stems from wherever the self thinks it is. This is a much more comfortable notion to live with, although at first glance it seems too perfect and too convenient an answer. Dennett then discusses the perception-extension nature of virtual reality, or of operating machines,
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