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Dennett on Philosophy

Philosophy has been the chief academic home of meta-representation for several thousand years. It can be alternatively gripping and amusing to watch Plato and Socrates, and later Aristotle, struggling so cleverly with the quite novel task of trying to understand everything, including the very state of understanding itself. The reflective steps – examining the meaning of meaning, the understanding of understanding, using words to analyze words – eventually led to the recognition that, as Doug Hofstadter and I once put it, „Anything you can do I can do meta.“ It doesn’t always yield insight, and sometimes threatens to lose the participants in a hall of mirrors with no clear anchoring in the real world, but such are the excesses of a meme (a meta-meme) of tremendous power.

(Daniel Dennett: From Bacteria to Bach and Back. The Evolution of Minds)

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