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Preview — Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett
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
Darwin's Dangerous Idea is the first book I have ever read twice in a row. Dennett is a master of clear thinking and builds his case through logic, but he surveys a very large territory and I felt upon finishing my first read, that I hadn't grasped all he had to say. The second read ...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
The author beautifully uses various streams of science - from biology to critical reasoning to AI to physics and chemistry - and adds philosophy with brilliant examples and analogies and metaphors, 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
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
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
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
For those of you Darwinfans, George R. R. Martin is like the DanielDennettof Dungeons & Dragons.
For those of you Dungeons & Dragons fans, you're probably already familiar with bothGeorge R. R. Martinand DanielDennett, so I guess you guys (probably not girls, but maybe) are the intended audience of this review.
Before going any further did you ever notice how DanielDennettandGeorge R. R. Martinlook ...more
The Mindless Algorithm:
I had high hopes going into "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"! With evolution and natural selection being the main subject, what could go wrong? Written by the well known Philosopher Daniel C Dennett, I was expecting some important insights on this controversial science. Using abstract metaphors like Universal Acid, the Library of Mendel and Intelligent Artificer, the author illustrates how Darwin's theory works and how it impacts all of society. While Dennett is not an evolutiona ...more
Dennet is a great thinker, he exposes everyone's way of thought as well as his own, always analyzing not only ...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
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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.”