The Mind of Daniel C. Dennett

We cannot define consciousness, but the brilliant insightful mind of philosopher Daniel C. Dennett is helping us have a clearer indication of what it might be. Let’s begin with how optimistic he can be that religions will one day, hopefully soon, be a thing of the past.

Photograph of St. Peter's Basilica facade.

Soon to become the “European Museum of Roman Catholicism(?)”

Photograph of the Kaaba at Mecca.

Soon to become “Disney’s Magic Kingdom of Allah(?)”

Apparently that is how Dennett would like to see the future.

But I am actually optimistic… Twenty years ago, if I had stood up and said: “Ha! In a few years the Soviet Union will be — will evaporate, will not exist anymore,” people would have laughed. If I said: “Apartheid will be gone in just a few years,” people would have laughed. Sometimes institutions — phenomenon that seem to be massive and have tremendous inertia — can just pop like a bubble.

So, how do we know until we try?  Maybe, within our children’s lifetime, the Vatican will become the European Museum of Roman Catholicism. And maybe Mecca will become Disney’s Magic Kingdom of Allah. If you think that’s funny, just bear in mind that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul started off as a church, then it was a mosque, and today it is a museum.
– Daniel C. Dennett –

[Acknowledgment to TEDtalksDirector for the YouTube video above on consciousness.]

Born on March 28, 1942, Daniel Clement Dennett III is a cognitive scientist, philosopher and writer with a particular interest in consciousness, free will and the evolution of minds. He conducts research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA.

[Acknowledgment to WORLD.MINDS for the YouTube video above.]

[Acknowledgment to The University of Edinburgh for the YouTube video above.]

Dennett is an atheist and secularist (which do not necessarily preclude him from being spiritual), a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. He is amusingly referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism”, along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

[Acknowledgment to iqsquared for the YouTube video above.]

[Acknowledgment to The Royal Institution for the YouTube video above.]

Notwithstanding his atheistic and secularist orientation, Dennett is perhaps the best advocate and proponent of the elusive thing known as consciousness. He has studied the subject, thought a lot about it, written about it, and has spoken and lectured a lot about it. Although his ideas do not really add to the existing body of contemporary mystical knowledge we have, his insights have a curious and profound manner of affirming mysticism’s understanding of consciousness.

[Acknowledgment to Avsz Efst2 for the YouTube video above.]

It is interesting to note that consciousness as pure subjectivity presents a serious dilemma where human learning and understanding are concerned because there is no way of submitting consciousness to scientific scrutiny and observational study under a microscope in a laboratory. Yet, there is something “magical” about it. It is real magic — the only magic in the truest sense of the term.

The “magic” of consciousness, like stage magic, defies explanation only so long as we take it at face value. Once we appreciate all the non-mysterious ways in which the brain can create benign “user-illusions,” we can begin to imagine how the brain creates consciousness.
– Daniel C. Dennett –

[Acknowledgment to Molurus73 for the YouTube video above.]

Let us now consider an even more fundamental question. Are we now living in an age where God or the belief in God is still valid or relevant at all to our lives?

[Acknowledgment to The Royal Institution for the YouTube video above.]

We can never define unmanifest consciousness in the way we can and do define manifest things or forms. As Taoism teaches: If you can name it, it is not the eternal Tao. But there is a way of experiencing Consciousness in its pure manifest, undifferentiated state, and it is by that experience that we come to know it.

Note: Go to our page titled Consciousness to learn more about the subject.

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About Marc of Contemplative Pathways

Marc teaches contemplative meditation in the context of "contemporary mysticism" under the style of "Contemplative Pathways." His spiritual work is backed by a profound understanding of mystical teachings and the mystical life, that is rooted in fifty (50) years of personal study, practice and spiritual unfoldment (inner realization and spiritual experience).  In the course of his spiritual journey, he has received the gifts of mystical discernment and spiritual transmission. Marc has been conducting classes and meetings on contemporary mysticism and meditation at the San Francisco Bay Area for over fifteen years, usually in a classroom, lecture, seminar, workshop, online meeting, or group practice setting. He has facilitated study groups and workshops for centering/contemplative meditation practice meetings since the 1980s. Marc's teaching work meaningfully shifts consciousness in students through the process of spiritual transmission and mystical transformation.  He enables others to embark on the spiritual journey by understanding the Truth teaching and by living its principles in their daily lives. His methodology of instruction is divinely inspired and firmly rooted in pure, authentic mysticism.  Marc's approach to the subject of contemporary mysticism is essentially nondenominational, nonsectarian, culturally interfaith, transreligious, definitively unitive, and unequivocally nondualistic. Within the context of the great shift in consciousness presently occurring all over the planet, Marc’s work focuses on individual and collective spiritual instruction and transformation. He promotes the practice of contemplation or meditation as the vehicle for spiritual transcendence and ascension to the higher dimensions of mystical consciousness. His other contributions to worldwide spiritual awakening and the global contemplative movement include spiritual mentoring, spiritual direction, and spiritual healing work. Marc is firmly committed to the vision of a global spiritual awakening and the divine promise of humanity’s mystical illumination. His brand of mysticism is the only true contemporary mysticism born of 21st century illumination and spirituality.  
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