Daniel C. Dennett
From Bacteria to Bach and Back:
The Evolution of Minds
in conversation with DANIEL GILBERT
Tickets on sale now
This event includes a book signing
February 6, 2017
(Doors at 5:30)
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138
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.
"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
All pre-sales tickets include a copy of From Bacteria to Bach and Back, admission into the event, and a $5 coupon for use in the bookstore. Pre-sales tickets (online only) are available for two weeks, after which a $5 ticket option will also go on sale. Books bundled with pre-sale tickets may only be picked up at the venue the night of the event, and cannot be picked up in-store beforehand.
$5 tickets will also be available at Harvard Book Store and over the phone at 617-661-1515. Unless the event is sold out, any remaining tickets will be on sale at the door of the venue when doors open.
Tickets are non-refundable and non-returnable.
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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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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