I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper
And I was free. -- Ray and Saliers
When I turn to philosophy and pick up a new work, the technical stuff makes me think that perhaps the idea to burn the Great Library of Alexandria was not such a bad one after all. Langugae that serves only to drive the potential reader away deserves to be forgotten. Of course, doctoral disseratations don't succeed so much by provoking new thought as by providing variations on an accepted theme of bullshit. The great thinkers succeed in reaching us by doing other things that producing tomes suitable more for tombs that thought, realization and excited discussion.
Daniel Dennett is an interesting and provocative thinker; while I like his simile about human beings as "moist robots", he seems here to be edging away from that. The robot part takes us so far, and then there's an entirely different set of functions,problems and issues. Two things I liked here is the issue of intentionality -- free will requires philosophical intention, that is, conscienious direction and awareness and it requires the ability to recognize and prevent manipulation. The moral actor has to go into situations with eyes wide open and a poker face. The other, which I think is implied, is that the initial reaction to radically new perspectives seems to be to regard it as either naive or cynical, until you think about it.
My other thought is simple. I find Dennett's technical philosophy, the neuroscientist-philosopher stuff incomprehensible, but when he writes or speaks to communicate with actual living people, he's very good indeed. Is that a trend? Crispin's thought is much the same way, although since he doesn't babble about neurons and synapses and blood volume and all the rest, he's more approachable. Sartre was the same way -- you can read "Being and Nothingness", or you can read "The Words" or "No Exit and three Plays" and the first will drive you to distraction, solitary despair and isolated absinthe sucking through a sugar cube; the others will engage, provoke conversastion and maybe...cause thought.
Maybe even in Salon...it's a thought.