Marian Turski, the Chairman of the Museum Council for POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Deputy Chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, a Holocaust survivor and long-time journalist for Polityka weekly - hosting Daniel and Susan Dennett at POLIN. Photo: KJ

Does Dionaea Muscipula Have Free Will?

Daniel C. Dennett (b. 1942) from Tufts University is one of the key philosophers of mind today and a great reformer in the field of knowledge. For nearly half a century he has been searching for the answer to the questions: What is consciousness? What is free will? Is faith a natural phenomenon?

My film Do Lobsters Have Free Will? was a recording of a one-to-one meeting with Dennett at his home in northern New England. As you well know it became a part of Pioneers.

BTW Original music was composed by renowned American composer Scott Johnson. His excellent magnum opus Mind Out of Matter, based on Dennett’s lectures, is being released on CD right now. 

That meeting with the philosopher, in 2014, had joyful consequences that are definitely worth mentioning. One of them was the somewhat unique art-science event that took place on 20 October 2017 at the Meeting of Cultures in Lublin (Poland) – during the very first visit of the Dennetts in Poland (photos above and below). I’m happy to say I was involved in the process.

Panel discussion with Daniel C. Dennett was introduced and summarized by musical experiments designed in cooperation with experts from the UMCS Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology (commanded by Kazimierz Trębacz) and UMCS Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (Mieczysław Jałochowski, yes – the chap is my father). Photos below. 

Jacek Mazurkiewicz, a rising star of the European jazz and improvisational scene, cast a band of plants (Dionaea muscipula and a Marchantiophyta) generating electrical impulses that were fed live into a set of analogue synthesizers. The results should be described as hypnotic and nothing short of splendid (photos of the “afterparty” below).

One of the evening’s stars was Susan Bell Dennett, Daniel’s love, wife, muse, boss, editor, manager, fixer – all in one, mixed in proportions depending on circumstances.

The event was a part of Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies. Understanding Social Cognition conference, organized by Avant, Centre for Philosophical Research, Institute of Philosophy Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Faculty of Philosophy Catholic University of Lublin, Villanova University, The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at The Polish Academy of Sciences, Centre for the Meeting of Cultures in Lublin – and POLITYKA weekly, of course.

These are institutions. Behind them there are real people I’d like to express my gratitude for such a remarkable happening: Witek Wachowski, Monika Sawka, Paweł Frelik, Paweł Grabarczyk, Marcin Trybulec, et al.

But first of all a huge “thank you” to Dan and Susan Dennett (photos above) – it was a delight to have you here! See you soon!