Join the Bright Club

By | July 13, 2003

The Bright Stuff by Daniel Dennett

It’s nice to read an opinion piece every now and then that you can completely identify with. Daniel Dennett’s recent NY Times piece on having a naturalist world view really struck home for me. Dennett’s name was a familiar one from philosophy courses I took long ago, particularly one taught by Derek Parfit and Christopher Peacocke.

I just wish the two people who came up with the name “bright” had brainstormed a bit longer or had a bit more creativity. Dennett’s comment:

“Don’t confuse the noun with the adjective: “I’m a bright” is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view”

is one the rest of us will need to repeat over and over to minimize misunderstandings.

I’m not sure I can think of a much better name, though, so I will throw only small stones. Maybe, “inquisitive”, and therefore, “Inquisitives”. Obviously, we wouldn’t be trying to make an exclusive claim on being inquisitive, but I think most people would find it far less insulting than a name that on first hearing appears to be putting a similar claim on intelligence. Naturalist wouldn’t be too bad, although people might think you are just talking about your love of the outdoors, or they may confuse you with an au naturalist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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