Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
I address the recognized but largely unexamined affinity between the evolutionary philosophies of John Dewey and Daniel C. Dennett, in order to resolve a problematic tension within Dennett's naturalism that results from his emphasis and dependence on science without having a proper account of science. Briefly, many of Dennett's critics argue that this neglect results in the neopragmatic relativism of Richard Rorty. I argue that there is another alternative by making use of John Dewey's philosophy of inquiry. The role of experimental inquiry is neglected by Rorty yet is central to Dewey's project of reconstruction, as opposed to the neurophilosophical and neopragmatic project of reconciling what Wilfrid Sellars called the scientific and manifest images of humanity. In promoting reconstruction as opposed to reconciliation, the tension in both Dennett and much contemporary neurophilosophy is simply evaded. Moreover, the conflict between the sciences and the humanities can be ameliorated through an emphasis on experimental method. In presenting this neurophilosophical pragmatism, I not only continue Dennett's project of imagining new metaphors for consciousness, I meet Rorty's challenge to Dennett to reconstruct science in light of the new metaphors for consciousness - yet I do so in a way that does not simply reduce science to literature as Rorty professed. This first lengthy presentation of neuropragmatism promises to advance not only rapprochement between science and the humanities but also points a way forward for pragmatism in the twenty-first century that takes seriously the advances in the sciences of life and mind without succumbing to the dangers of much of the neuro-hype found both inside and outside of philosophical circles.
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