School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics

Humanities Academic Presents Paper at Evolving Minds Conference

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Professor David Spurrett (right) with Professor Daniel Dennett at the Evolving Minds conference in Australia.
Professor David Spurrett (right) with Professor Daniel Dennett at the Evolving Minds conference in Australia.

Dean and Head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics Professor David Spurrett presented a paper at the Evolving Minds conference in Darwin, Australia.

The conference was organised to celebrate the work of Philosopher Daniel Dennett who was this year’s recipient of the ‘Charles Darwin Scholar’ award from the Charles Darwin University. Dennett is the author of influential works including The Intentional Stance (1987), Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1997). His most recent book is titled: From Bacteria to Bach and Back (2017).

The conference focused on themes central to Dennett’s work, including human consciousness and evolutionary biology as well as wider applications of evolutionary thinking to phenomena of mind and culture.

Spurrett’s well-received paper, titled: Affording Affordances, was about how the need to efficiently solve problems of action selection was a constraint on the evolution of minds, especially in organisms with moderately complex bodies.

‘A striking feature of the latest version of Dennett’s “big picture” of the evolution of life and mind is the way that cognition is understood in terms of “affordances”,’ said Spurrett. ‘An affordance is, roughly, a possibility for action given a creature and an environment. Many combinations of creatures and environments will provide more than one simultaneous affordance. In such cases, a reasonable question is: What will the creature actually do?’

A short version of the paper, accompanied by a positive commentary from Dennett, has recently been published in a symposium on Dennett’s new book in the Spanish journal Teorema.

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
On Key

Related Posts

The LGBTI virtual contextual Bible study collaboration.

UKZN hosts LGBTI Virtual Contextual Bible Study

The Gender and Religion Programme and the Ujamaa Centre within UKZN’s School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics partnered with Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) to host a virtual Contextual Bible Study with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people from across South Africa that are engaging in lived realities during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Heidi Matisonn

Is Absolute Free Speech a Plague in the Time of Coronavirus?

As I write this, the US has recorded its 40 565th COVID-19 death (and 764 265th infection), and South Africa (SA) its 54th death (and 3 158th infection) (www.worldometers.info/coronavirus). Given their populations (as of January 2020), of 331 million and 57 million respectively, the US’s mortality rate is 129 times that of SA’s.