Philosopher Daniel Dennett Gets the New Yorker Treatment

The upcoming issues of the New Yorker includes a lengthy and excellent profile of philosopher Daniel Dennett by Joshua Rothman.

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While most articles about him touch on his atheism and the subjects of his latest books, this piece really spends time discussing what makes his ideas so controversial and gives you a peek at his home life, not to mention his “philosophical arch-nemesis.”

I loved this passage about Dennett’s annual Christmas-carolling party:

Earlier, I’d asked [wife] Susan Dennett how their atheism would shape their carol-singing. “When we get to the parts about the Virgin, we sometimes sing with our eyebrows raised,” she said. In the event, their performance was unironic. Dennett, a brave soloist, sang beautifully, then apologized for his voice. The most arresting carol was a tune called “O Hearken Ye.” Dennett sang the words “Gloria, gloria / In excelsis Deo” with great seriousness, his hands at his sides, his eyes faraway. When the carol faded into an appreciative silence, he sighed and said, “Now, that’s a beautiful hymn.”

The man has many talents.

It’s really a fascinating piece and the most in-depth look at Dennett you’ll find anywhere. Block out some time and read it when you can.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.