I've Been Thinking (Hardcover)

I've Been Thinking By Daniel C. Dennett Cover Image
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"How unfair for one man to be blessed with such a torrent of stimulating thoughts. Stimulating is an understatement." —Richard Dawkins

A memoir by one of the greatest minds of our age, preeminent philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel C. Dennett.

Daniel C. Dennett, preeminent philosopher and cognitive scientist, has spent his career considering the thorniest, most fundamental mysteries of the mind. Do we have free will? What is consciousness and how did it come about? What distinguishes human minds from the minds of animals? Dennett’s answers have profoundly shaped our age of philosophical thought. In I’ve Been Thinking, he reflects on his amazing career and lifelong scientific fascinations.

Dennett’s relentless curiosity has taken him from a childhood in Beirut and the classrooms of Harvard, Oxford, and Tufts, to “Cognitive Cruises” on sailboats and the fields and orchards of Maine, and to laboratories and think tanks around the world. Along the way, I’ve Been Thinking provides a master class in the dominant themes of twentieth-century philosophy and cognitive science—including language, evolution, logic, religion, and AI—and reveals both the mistakes and breakthroughs that shaped Dennett’s theories.

Key to this journey are Dennett’s interlocutors—Douglas Hofstadter, Marvin Minsky, Willard Van Orman Quine, Gilbert Ryle, Richard Rorty, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Gerald Edelman, Stephen Jay Gould, Jerry Fodor, Rodney Brooks, and more—whose ideas, even when he disagreed with them, helped to form his convictions about the mind and consciousness. Studded with photographs and told with characteristic warmth, I’ve Been Thinking also instills the value of life beyond the university, one enriched by sculpture, music, farming, and deep connection to family.

Dennett compels us to consider: What do I really think? And what if I’m wrong? This memoir by one of the greatest minds of our time will speak to anyone who seeks to balance a life of the mind with adventure and creativity.

About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett (1942–2024) was University Professor Emeritus at Tufts University and the author of numerous books, including Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, Breaking the Spell, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and Consciousness Explained.

Praise For…

For more than 50 years, Daniel C. Dennett has been right in the thick of some of humankind's most meaningful arguments: the nature and function of consciousness and religion, the development and dangers of artificial intelligence and the relationship between science and philosophy, to name a few. . . In his new memoir, I've Been Thinking, Dennett . . . traces the development of his worldview, which he is keen to point out is no less full of awe or gratitude than that of those more inclined to the supernatural.  

— David Marchese - New York Times Magazine

It's not surprising that few write autobiographies and, when they do, those autobiographies are generally not considered to be of any philosophical importance. . . . Daniel Dennett's new memoir, I've Been Thinking, challenges this narrative. It sets out to be not just a life story but a kind of model for how to live a philosophical life. . . . Dennett's life is as interesting as his mind because the two cannot be separated. His autobiography serves as a kind of demonstration of how the way in which you live reflects and shapes the way you think. The life of the mind is the entire life of the whole thinker. 

— Julian Baggini - Prospect

This is a generous book written by a figure who has made a significant impact on philosophy. Daniel Dennett reveals doubts, worries, and unresolved questions, as well as sharing what he has learned about thinking in a long philosophical life. Anyone interested in contemporary philosophy should read it and consider how he achieved his distinctive voice.
— Nigel Warburton - Times Literary Supplement

At 81, he has lost none of his sense of wonder.
— Joe Humphreys - The Irish Times

Daniel Dennett, one of the most famous and prolific philosophers of his generation, now in his early eighties, has written a memoir recounting the achievements, battles and pleasures of an extraordinarily full life. . . [his writing] is always lucid, witty, charming, and accessible.
— Thomas Nagel - The Weekend

A delightful memoir from one of our deepest thinkers.
— Kirkus (starred review)

Always an enthusiastic learner with an insatiable curiosity, Dennett’s amiable autodidacticism illustrates a life of the mind intertwined with the rich home life of a true Renaissance man. Highly recommended.
— Booklist (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393868050
ISBN-10: 0393868052
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2023
Pages: 464
Language: English