Posts from 26th December 2006

Dec 06

Advent Triptych of Atheism: Daniel Dennett ‘Breaking the Spell’

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This book is not for you – it said to me in the preface. Me in this case being a non-US reader – however I was already disqualified being a fully paid up member of the choir already, having read pretty much everything by Dennett that has reached print. But this is an unusual book, sitting off-centre from the rest of his work in style and tone. It is a much more accessible book in that it is aimed at a general reader and there is consequently much less of the casual jargon of the philosopher. (Sadly, reviews of the book repeatedly underestimate Dennett’s philosophical credentials because of this.) More marked though for me, was the occasional tone of apparent disingenuosness. For someone whose writing is normally so ingenuous with a clear, distinctive and generous style respectful of the reader, this perhaps says something of the subject in hand. Or perhaps it survived the editing process on purpose, and I was feeling hyper crictical.

Either way, despite being on his side, I felt a little bit sorry for his imagined “believer” reader