In his 2017 book “From bacteria to Bach and back” Daniel Dennett claims that consciousness is not a mysterious entity and is the result of a Darwinian evolution followed by a post Darwinian intelligent design. He presents us with hypothetical creatures resulting from a Darwin process. Each of them uses a Darwinian process on increasingly abstracted entities.
Darwinian creatures are the typical speciation entities created by random genetic mutations and selected by the external environment. The fittest design survives and reproduces. Darwinian creatures are shaped over millions of years. The Darwinian process is very slow.
Skinnerian creatures (named after the behaviorist and learning scientist B.F. Skinner) learn by a process of selection by the external environment of randomly generated actions. Actions that add an advantage are reinforced and then tend to be repeated. Skinnerian creatures ask themselves, “What do I do next?”
Popperian creatures can eliminate really stupid options before risking them in the difficult world. They Popperian because they form theories about what would work. Darwinian evolution allows for the best theories to survive. Popperian creatures have an internal representation of the environment that they can use to select from possible actions. Popperian creatures wonder, “What should I think about next?”
Gregorian creatures have various thinking tools (memes and words). These tools are shared culturally, and in artifacts outside of the creatures themselves. Their advancement over Popperian creatures is that they are using the immediate outside world for improved post Darwinian evolution. Gregorian creatures ask themselves, “How can I learn to think better about what to think about next?”
These creatures are the various steps in the continuous evolutive path from the first Darwinian creature to the post Darwinian intelligent design itself a result of blind natural selection.
Dennett tries then, to explain with a lot of success but still not completely the problem of the evolution of minds.