Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray.

Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray.

Daniel Dennett: career in brief

Born in Boston in 1942, philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett has dedicated his academic life to the study of the philosophies of the mind, science and biology. He studied at Harvard and Oxford and is currently a professor at Tufts University, Boston. An atheist and a secularist, he is often bracketed as one of the “four horsemen of atheism” alongside Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens.

He has published extensively on subjects such as free will (Brainstorms, 1978), theory of the mind (Consciousness Explained, 1991) and the role of adaptation in evolution (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 1995). His ideas have been criticised by the palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould and praised by the psychologist Steven Pinker.

In 2012, he was awarded the Erasmus prize, an European award for “a person who has made an exceptional contribution to culture, society or social science”; he was praised for “his ability to translate the cultural significance of science and technology to a broad audience”.

Daniel Dennett is appearing at the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 28 May.

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