Daniel Dennett: The New Epiphenomenalism

Daniel Dennett, a philosopher at Tufts University, is a forceful proponent of the idea that consciousness is "no big deal." He claims that it does not exist except in the eye of the beholder.

Scientists have shown that information coming into the brain is broken down into separate processing streams. But no one has yet found any "place" where all the information comes together, presenting a whole picture of what is being felt or seen or experienced. The temptation, he said, is to believe that the information is transduced by consciousness. But it is entirely possible that the brain's networks can assume all the roles of an inner boss. Mental contents become conscious by winning a competition against other mental contents, Dennett says. No more is needed. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon, a mere side-effect.

The Current Status of Philosophy.