Many of those same theorists [who support Fodor modules] have been lukewarm-to-hostile about Marvin Minsky's Agents, who form The Society of Mind (1985). Minsky's Agents are homunculi that come in all sizes, from giant specialists with talents about as elaborate as those of Fodorian modules, down to meme-sized agents (polynemes, micronemes, censor-agents, suppressor-agents, and many others). It all looks too easy, the skeptics think. Wherever there is a task, posit a gang of task-sized agents to perform it—a theoretical move with all the virtues of theft over honest toil....
All the comprehension, appreciation, delight, revulsion, recognition, amusement, etc. that human beings experience must be somehow composed by the activities of billions of neurons that are myopic in the extreme, cloistered in their networks of interacting brethren, oblivious to the larger perspective they are helping to create. But how? That is the hard question.
Every animal does an acceptable job of controlling its degrees of freedom under normal circumstances. Otherwise, it would be extinct. So, every human being does this as well, but in the human case, the task of governance is magnified by the essentially limitless numbers of degrees of freedom that can iterate and ramify and amplify effects. Taking care of this embarrassment of riches is—to oversimply—what consciousness is for.
In an interview in the Guardian in 2017, the celebrated rationalist Daniel Dennett declared: “I think what the postmodernists did was truly evil. They are responsible for the intellectual fad that made it respectable to be cynical about truth and facts.” If Dennett’s anathema was heard in the afterlife by Jacques Derrida, who died in 2004 renowned as the progenitor of what is commonly described as postmodernism, his shade must have smiled. Nothing is more characteristic of evangelical rationalists than the demonological discourse of fundamentalist religion. But what can “pure evil” mean for those who claim to have exorcised all traces of the supernatural in their thinking? In the same interview, Dennett describes himself, evidently without irony, as “an eternal optimist”. By what magic does he imagine unadulterated malevolence can be banished from the world? Such enemies of postmodernism beg to be deconstructed whenever they open their mouths.
We are apes with infected brains