Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
— Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking the Spell
"Is this Tree of Life* a God one could worship? Pray to?...more
tangents and almost incomprehensibly dense passages. I watched an entire college science class misunderstand this for two excruciating weeks of debate and left thoroughly disappointed in Dennett's prose. It's simply too long and stuffy for its own good; and worse, for a 600-page monolith, it insists on simplifying things to "God did it by miracle" or "natural selection did it mindlessly." Thi...more
The answer is that this book is so dense and well written that it deserves to be savored and thought about. For an evolutionary neophyte like myself (both in evolutionary time, and in terms of how much I know about the concept of evolution) the book has some fairly difficult and complex sections...more
The vast majority of the book is devoted to this topic; considerably fewer pages are allocated to describing how morali...more
However, the more I read, the more of a chore it became just to pick up the book. I don't want to give the wrong impression -...more
"Here, then, is Darwin's dangerous idea: the algorithmic level is the level that best accounts for the speed of the antelope, the wing of the eagle, the shape of the orchid, the diversity of species, and the other occasions for wonder in the world of nature."
He also refers to Darwin's dangerous idea as a universal acid, able to...more
The meat of the book is devastating criticism of attempts by philosophers and scientists to find attributes that are beyond evolutionary analysis. In particular, he does a thorough job of exposing the shortcomings of t...more
Daniel C. Dennett’s book is worthy of its subject matter. That is to say, beautiful in its essence, but complex in its details. Dennett is not trying just to explain Darwin’s core ideas about evolution or natural selection. Rather, he is trying to explain how evolution fits into humanity’s understanding of itself, life and the world. To do so, he has to explain his views on evolution’s context, its implications for human understanding, and the...more
The book is really more philosophical than scientific but it's accessible to the non-philosopher like me. He starts by telling the listener the mindset during Darwin's time. Plato's universal forms would lead to absolute c...more
A book about the philosophical implications of Darwinism. Written with humor and keen insight, this book has many good references for further reading.
I read this book with great interest because one of its topics -- the effect the theory of evolution has on ideas in non-biological settings like religion and culture -- has fascinated me for some time. Although many people do not find any conflict (or even relationship) between evolution and religion, I have found it difficult to see evolution as...more
The main topic is critically important and the author is immensely knowledgable. The deductive reasoning and logical dismantling of counterpoints throughout is some of...more
Here is a quote I enjoyed: "The evidence for evolution pours in, not only from geology, paleontology, biogeography, and anatomy (Darwin's chief sources), but of course from molecular biol...more
The first part of the book presents a good overview of evolution, but also one of the best introductory examples of the philosophy science is and how it works. It seriously ought to be required reading by...more
In this book Dennett explores what he judges to be the concept and, more crucially, the consequences of evolutionary biology. He ranges far and wide, from the origin of life to ethics. He is rather verbose, and not always convincing, being at times clearly too eager to present his personal opinion as logical fact. His main theme is that an explanation of the world may require complex and counter-intuitive "cranes" to build complex systems from simple systems, but does not require the "skyhooks"...more
I had assumptions that this book dives in to the subject deep, but still I got amazed how deep it went. It started from old philosophic thoughts and then worked its way to Darwin and to latest thoughts in 1990's. All the topics were covered thorou...more
In this tome, he really paint a good picture...more
Dennett contrasts between two central notions in the book and draws on this extensively all t...more
This book is not "yet another pop-sci book on evolution." It does not set out to convince the reader with a series of well-known arguments that evolution is true. Instead, it assumes you've accepted the idea and explores it as an abstract framework for understanding the world. It is the first and only book I've encountered that takes evolution as a worldview and not just a biological explanation of speciation.
I drew far too many wonderful ideas and frameworks from...more
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Very well, let's consider the objection. I doubt that the defender of religion will find it attractive, once we explore it carefully.
The philosopher Ronaldo de Souza once memorably described philosophical theology as "intellectual tennis without a net," and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgement was up. But we can lower it if you really want to.
It's your serve.
Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: "What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tin foil. That's not much of a God to worship!". If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: "oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves?
Either way the net stays up, or it stays down. If the net is down there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug's game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down.”