Daniel C. Dennett

presents

From Bacteria to Bach and Back:
The Evolution of Minds

in conversation with DANIEL GILBERT

THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT
There will be a standby line at the door

This event includes a book signing

Date

Feb
6
Monday
February 6, 2017
6:00 PM
(Doors at 5:30)

Location

Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

SOLD OUT. View our Sold Out Event FAQ.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome Tufts University professor DANIEL C. DENNETT—author of Breaking the Spell, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and Consciousness Explained—and DANIEL GILBERT, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, for a discussion of Dennett's latest book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds.

About From Bacteria to Bach and Back

One of America’s foremost philosophers offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind.

How did we come to have minds?

For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness, language, and culture could have appeared through natural selection, blazing promising trails that tend, however, to end in confusion and controversy. Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins, neurons, and DNA is deeper than ever before, the matter of how our minds came to be has largely remained a mystery.

That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought.

In his inimitable style—laced with wit and arresting thought experiments—Dennett explains that a crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes, or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. Competition among memes—a form of natural selection—produced thinking tools so well-designed that they gave us the power to design our own memes. The result, a mind that not only perceives and controls but can create and comprehend, was thus largely shaped by the process of cultural evolution.

An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers, scientists, and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about.

Praise

"Illuminating and insightful. . . . [Dennett] makes a convincing case, based on a rapidly growing body of experimental evidence, that a materialist theory of mind is within reach. . . . His ideas demand serious consideration." —Publishers' Weekly

Daniel C. Dennett
Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett is a University Professor at Tufts University and the author of numerous books including Breaking the Spell, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and Consciousness Explained.

Photo credit: Bettina Strauss

Daniel Gilbert
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. In 2008 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His 2007 book Stumbling on Happiness spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list, has being translated into 30 languages, has sold a million copies worldwide, and was awarded the Royal Society’s General Book Prize for best science book of the year.  In 2010, he hosted and co-wrote the award-winning NOVA television series This Emotional Life which was seen by more than 10 million viewers. He is a contributor to Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR's All Things Considered, and has been a guest on numerous television shows including The Today Show, Charlie Rose, 20/20, and The Colbert Report.  His TED talks have been seen by about 13 million people, and are among the most popular of all time.

UPDATE: Online ticket sales have now ended. A limited number of tickets are still available at Harvard Book Store or over the phone at 617-661-1515. We will likely sell out soon so get your tickets now!

Tickets are non-refundable and non-returnable.

Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 10 minutes

As you exit the station, cross Mass. Ave. and look for the newsstand Crimson Corner on the right side of the street and Curious George book shop on the left side of the street. Keeping the newsstand to your right, proceed along Brattle St. (you will pass the restaurant Tory Row). Follow Brattle St. as it curves to the right in Brattle Square (follow the sidewalk on the right side of the street). The Brattle will be on the left-hand side of the street. The building is shared with Algiers Cafe and Alden & Harlow Restaurant, and the theatre entrance is on the left side of the building—look for the sidewalk poster case and marquee.

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Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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