|dc.description.abstract||This paper is an analysis of aspects of Daniel Dennett's theory of human consciousness.
For Dennett, the reasons why human consciousness is so unique among earthly creatures,
and so manifestly powerful, are not to be found in the differences between our brains and
those of other higher mammals, but rather in the ways in which the plasticity of our
brains is harnessed by language and culture. According to Dennett, the best way to
understand the enhancements and augmentations that result from enculturation is as a von
Neumannesque virtual machine implemented in the parallel-distributed processing brain.
This paper examines two questions that arise from the latter hypothesis: (1) If nonsymbolic,
parallel-distributed networks accomplish all the representation and
computation of the brain, what kind of explanation of the functionality of that brain, can
legitimately maintain descriptions of procedures that are symbolic, serial, and real? (2)
What kind of structural design, training, and resultant processing dynamics could enable
a (human) brain to develop a competency for symbolic, serial procedures? Through
addressing these questions, I argue that Dennett's theory of consciousness is broadly
correct, investigate some other theorist's ideas that are highly compatible with Dennett's
work, and consider some criticisms that have been levelled against it.||en