• From Bacteria to Bach and Back

  • The Evolution of Minds
  • By: Daniel C. Dennett
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 02-07-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books
  • 4.2 (375 ratings)

Regular price: $27.99

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Publisher's Summary

What is human consciousness, and how is it possible? This question fascinates thinking people from poets and painters to physicists, psychologists, and philosophers. From Bacteria to Bach and Back is Daniel C. Dennett's brilliant answer, extending perspectives from his earlier work in surprising directions, exploring the deep interactions of evolution, brains, and human culture.
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 shows how culture enables reflection by installing a bounty of thinking tools, or memes, in our brains. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. The result, a mind that can comprehend the questions it poses, emerges from a process of cultural evolution.
An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and other researchers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone who hopes to understand human creativity in all its wondrous applications.
©2017 Daniel C. Dennett (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Mark on 03-15-17

How come there is a 'me'?

Consciousness has always been the greatest mystery to me. I fully believe in the idea that human beings are mammals evolved in accordance with the principles of Darwinian natural selection. I’m an atheist and I love the writing of people like Dawkins, Pinker and Hume, who are referred to often in this book.

It seems clear to me that there are also other animals who experience consciousness. By that I don’t mean that they are intelligent, although the ones I’m thinking of do have above average intelligence in the animal kingdom (dogs, cats, seals, dolphins, etc) but that they are aware of their experiences. They see and feel what is happening to them. They feel pain, hunger, fear – there’s more to it than just behaviouristic responses to environmental stimuli. I just don’t understand where this consciousness in humans and other animals came from.

I understand how the presence of the nervous system and painful stimuli will serve the Darwinian purpose of preventing you from doing damage to yourself, but I’ve never understood where the ‘me’ comes from who really feels the pain when I stub my toe. How do you get a ‘me’ from the movement of electricity through the central nervous system? If you built a computer as complicated as the human brain would it develop a ‘me’ and be ‘aware’? – I don’t think so (but I really don’t know that for sure).

This book addresses this question. Does it provide the answer? Sadly, no, not for me. It provides lots of interesting and helpful insights into the evolution of intelligence, but, unless I just didn’t get it, it doesn’t explain for me the emergent property of consciousness.

I’d still highly recommend it. I enjoyed every bit of it. I think I might listen to it again. But it didn’t answer the question for me. Maybe the question is unanswerable. Maybe it is beyond our understanding. Maybe we just have to accept that consciousness is just another of the many emergent properties that we see all around us in the natural and cultural world. I still don’t know.

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25 of 30 people found this review helpful


By Adam on 02-13-17

The only other review was so bad that I wrote this

Any additional comments?

Anyone who has read any other work by Dennett knows what to expect. You're in for 15 hours of lucid, thought provoking prose guiding you through some of the deepest questions out there. There is no need to give any credence to the only other review so far which seems to be motivated solely by jealousy.

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43 of 53 people found this review helpful

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By G Douglas Whistler on 03-12-17

An excellent Dennett exploration

This brilliant exploration through many fields of investigation is another triumph for one of the deepest thinking philosophers of our times. His style, as always, is accessible, clear, jovial, and entertaining, while his conclusions and food for thought are fascinating and convincing. An excellent new book, which invaluably updates, reexplains, and delves deeper into ideas with which listeners may already be familiar through his "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", "Consciousness Explained", "Freedom Evolves", and "Breaking the Spell".

The performance in this version is very strong; Perkins' voice and tone suit Dennett's style well, and he is to be praised for dealing well with Dennett's occasionally idiosyncratic sentence structure and use of grammatical syntax. There are several pronunciation mistakes, but nothing to distract from the text.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Segismundo on 12-06-17

Read!

Wonderful!
I recommend chapters 12 t 14.
I think I will read the paper or Kindle version to allow me to ponder more!

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By droy on 03-21-17

Bach at it again

A great update to his books "Consciousness Explained" and "Darwin's dangerous idea". readers will get the most from this book if they have previously listened to Dennett's books, many of which are also available on audible.

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