Re: Zenification vs. Dennetisation

Aaron Lynch (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:45:02 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:45:02 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Zenification vs. Dennetisation
In-Reply-To: <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B200CAF4F@DELTA.newhouse.akzo

At 04:48 PM 4/19/99 +0200, you wrote:
>>I see that Dennett provided "avuncular advice," and that he read an earlier
>>draft. As far as I'm concerned, this alone does not demonstrate that
>>Dennett was "very deeply involved in the book,"
>I think that spending what must have been many hours reading the book
>implies a fairly deep involvement, yes.
>How deep do you want to go to satisfy your definition of deep?

I don't know how many hours Dennett spent reading the book, let alone
helping to improve it. If he tells me that he spent hundreds of hours
working to improve it, then that would be *one way* of being very deeply
involved. The key is that *he* should say so, not you or I speculating on
this list. As for the definition, I do not mean to say that hundreds of
hours spent are the only way to be deeply involved. If I saw a draft
manuscript marked extensively in Dennett's hand writing and in ways that
clearly affected the final product, then I could accept that as deep
involvement even if Dennett told me it only took him a few hours for him to


>>and the Acknowledgments do
>>not claim that Dennett's involvement was very deep. Likewise, I have read a
>>previous draft of Dennett's paper "The Evolution of the Evaluators," and
>>provided him with advice on it. Yet I would never claim to have been *very
>>deeply* involved in the writing of his paper.
>>Still, it is only a *suspicion* of mine that Dennett was too busy to get
>>very deeply involved in the book. This is based on what he and others have
>>told me about how busy he has been in recent years--not to mention time
>>needed for his own books, research, and teaching. Nevertheless, if Dennett
>>tells me that he not only read the book, but also spent hundreds of hours
>>helping to shape its form and content, then of course I would accept that
>>as deep involvement.
>>Were you deeply involved in the writing of the book, Derek?
>I don't know. How many hours reading drafts do you think is necessary to
>qualify for deep involvement? I think I probably did spend upwards of a
>hundred hours on it, easily.

I count only hours spent above and beyond the reading time on working to
shape its form or content.

>Let's just clarify your position here Aaron. Do you think that Dennett
>would approve of MM or not? I think he would - the 'form and content' as
>you say , of Sue's argument concerning the self etc. owes quite a bit to
>Dennett's 'Consciousness Explained'. Read the last 2 chapters of CE if you
>don't believe me (centres of narrative gravity etc). Sue hasn't Zenified
>memetics, she's Dennetised it (and given Dennett's debt to Hume, what would
>be the difference anyway?).

I already recognize Dennett's endorsement of the book a whole. However, I
do not take this to mean as Jake suggested that the two of them had a
serious discussion of Zen and its role in memetics or in the book. I can
easily see the possibility that Dennett disagreed with the Zen material,
but didn't have the time for persuading Blackmore of his views on this.
This is why I raised the subject of how deeply involved Dennett was: I was
casting doubt on the image Jake raised of the two of them sitting side by
side through the whole project and therefore inevitably having the Zen
conversation that Jake envisioned. The 4/16/99 sentence of mine that you
earlier quoted as a fragment reads in full:

>I suspect that Dennett has been too busy to get very deeply involved in the
>book, which might be why he did not exert a de-Zenifying influence.

The real question, then, is not how many hours Dennett gave to the project,
but whether his involvement was enough for him to exert any de-Zenifying
influence if in fact he disagrees with the Zen material. Another
possiblity, of course, is that he tried to exert a de-Zenifying influence
but did not totally succeed. Perhaps I'll ask him.

--Aaron Lynch

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