Christian Long

Dan Dennett: Cute, Sexy, Sweet, Funny

In TED Talks on April 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Reflection by BETH A.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Dan Dennett: Cute, Sexy, Sweet, Funny

Let me start off by saying that I noticed a resemblance between Dennett and Darwin, which made me giggle for seeing it the first time.

As many have learned in our Biology classes, Darwin is most famous for his theory of evolution, saying that species evolve over time and adapting to their environment. In this TED Talk, Dennett’s theory makes a lot of sense, when comparing our social assumptions about the characteristics of things and people.

First, Dennett talks about why we think, or example, chocolate cake is sweet. He says that “Our sweet tooth is an evolved and instinctual preference for high-energy food”, which goes back to Darwin’s whole idea of evolution. Back in the 1400s, the diet for Europeans was very bland, and they were used to food with not that much taste. However, when there was a lot more exploration, and the discovery of spices and sugars, the diet became tastier. Since then, spices and sugar in our foods have been very commonly found, in our foods, making our notice for it, and craving for it, more evolved.

When it comes to sexy, I feel as if this is the most obvious example of how our view has evolved. Below, that was what was considered to be sexy in the 1920’s, knee-length skirts and covered arms. That was the epitome of sexy in the Roaring 20’s, today, this is seen as being very conservative. Yet, sexiness was always there in our society-old and new. In the Stone Age there was sexy, and now there is sexy in 2010. We, as a society, have always noticed sexy, and it’s just a “supernormal stimuli”, as Dennett put it.

However, I think that what our society believes is “sexy” has been misconstrued by the media. The media thinks sexy is wearing tight clothes, tanning in a UV bed, and having plastic surgery. I don’t think that that is a good mold for sexy, because then the younger generations are going to look up to the women that the media claims to be sexy, and want to embody those women. In my opinion, plastic surgery, fake-tanning, and tight clothes are not what the media should be looking for in what is “sexy”.

Sweetness, sexiness, and cuteness are all to be considered supernormal stimuli. Babies, Dennett describes, “It’s important that we love babies, and that we not be put off by, say, messy diapers. So babies have to attract our affection and our nurturing, and they do”. Dennett says that if babies didn’t look like how they do today, but if they looked like the picture on the right, that we would still find them cute.

I have never thought of these characteristics like the way Dennett has showed.

I feel like I can interpret some things differently now, philosophically. Dennett’s TED Talk was absolutely fabulous, it was short and to the point, and was very informative and it was wonderful that he has come up with a way for us to explain why we think things are cute, sexy, sweet, and funny.


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