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Dennett on Competence without Comprehension

[In response to Daniel Dennett's appeal to computer scientist Alan Turing as reductionist materialism's greatest champion next to Darwin:] …  at first blush one would think that because Turing had “invented” a “machine,” this might give even Dennett pause and lead him to take a second look at his claim that competence precedes comprehension. For any competence exhibited by a Turing machine would, on its face, presuppose comprehension by, in this case, a mathematician named Turing, who understood the nature of computability and invented a machine (albeit an abstract one) that could perform any and all computations. And one would be wrong — atheists like Dennett have a knack for turning even the most damning evidence against their position into decisive confirmation of it. A failed Wall Street banker following his example would look not merely for a government bailout but would insist on taking over both the Fed and Treasury …

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2 Responses to Dennett on Competence without Comprehension

  1. Even Bill publishes elsewhere first, then posts the link here.

  2. I really enjoy the quote Dennett gives by anti-Evolutionist Robert Mackenzie Beverley, which reads:

    In the theory with which we have to deal, Absolute Ignorance is the artificer; so that we may enunciate as the fundamental principle of the whole system, that, in order to make a perfect and beautiful machine, it is not requisite to know how to make it. This proposition will be found, on careful examination, to express, in condensed form, the essential purport of the Theory, and to express in a few words all Mr. Darwin’s meaning; who, by a strange inversion of reasoning, seems to think Absolute Ignorance fully qualified to take the place of Absolute Wisdom in all the achievements of creative skill.

    Interestingly, Dennett inverts Beverley’s name, calling him Robert Beverly [sic] Mackenzie.

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