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Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1995)

by Daniel C. Dennett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,823323,623 (4.08)37
In this groundbreaking and very accessible book, Daniel C. Dennett, the acclaimed author of Consciousness Explained, demonstrates the power of the theory of natural selection and shows how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of our place in the universe. Following Darwinian thinking to its logical conclusions is a risky business, with pitfalls for everybody. Creationists and others who reject evolution are not the only ones to fall into the traps. Many who accept the validity of Darwin's conclusions hesitate before their implications and distort his theory, fearful that it is politically incorrect or antireligious, or that it robs life of all spirituality. Dennett explains the scientific theory of natural selection in vivid terms, and shows how it extends far beyond biology.… (more)
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» See also 37 mentions

English (28)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Listen, this is a review tied to time and place and current feeling and what am I supposed to do about that? But, come on, you can only blanche at the Epstein-iness of the citations (Pinker, Minsky, oh my) and the cringey-ness of that late-Clinton, early-Bush anti-Theist Brights high-horsedness. Truly a testament of it times, as well as in the emphasis in AI. Oh well, interesting shit on the Baldwin Effect and determining the correct level of Darwinian reductionist to be (not Skinner, mind you!). ( )
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 5, 2019 |
DD completes the work begun in Consciousness Explained (1991), rendering a materialist account of natural design--generally, and as to the human mind in particular. We do not need a soul (it does not account for anything or add to human behavior), nor a creator to explain an artifact.

And in the Preface, he declares his abandonment of "argument" --which is ignorable--and adoption of "story". Shocked? Just such an argument was made by Baha'u'llah a century ago.
  keylawk | Apr 19, 2017 |
A very dense book that delves into physics as well as biology, mathematical theory, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. The author begins with Locke's assumption that mind cannot emerge from matter, that mind therefore must come before matter in epistemology. He then proceeds to explain that, using algorithmic process the emergence of life, the evolution of species, the evolution of mind and of morals can proceed without any need for what he terms 'skyhooks' interventions from outside the process. I think I need to reread it to get a better grasp of his arguments.
  ritaer | Aug 4, 2016 |
(almost gave it four stars) A little bit too preachy for those of us already convinced that evolution is fact and the bible is a story. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Dennett is a philosopher with interests in evolutionary biology and cognitive studies. Since I haven't read much philosophy and only a little of the evolutionary studies he cites, this book was a slow and sometimes difficult read. I do feel that he was persuasive that he is on the right track but he cheerfully admits that not everyone in the field agrees. Dennett argues that evolution is a done deal and that there are no 'skyhooks' (supernatural elements) needed to get from just formed earth to men asking questions about how they got here. He can also inject humor into his dialog with the reader.
1 vote hailelib | Mar 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Daniel Dennett's fertile imagination is captivated by the very dangerous idea that the neo-Darwinian theory of biological evolution should become the basis for what amounts to an established state religion of scientific materialism. Dennett takes the scientific part of his thesis from the inner circle of contemporary Darwinian theorists: William Hamilton, John Maynard Smith, George C. Williams, and the brilliant popularizer Richard Dawkins.
 

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Daniel C. Dennettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Darwin, Charlessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Neurath has likened science to a boat which, if we were to rebuld it, we must rebuild plank by plank while staying afloat in it. The philosopher and the scientist are in the same boat...

Analyze theory-building how we will, we must all start in the middle. Our conceptual firsts are middle-sized, middle-distanced objects, and our introduction to them and to everything comes midway in the cultural evolution of the race. In assimilating this cultural fare we are little more aware of a distinction between report and invention, substance and style, cues and conceptualization, than we are of a distinction between the proteins and the carbohydrates of our material intake. Retrospectively we may distinguish the components of theory-building, as we distinguish the proteins and carbohydrates while subsisting on them.

—Willard Van Orman Quine 1960, pp 4-6
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We used to sing a lot when I was a child, around the campfire at summer camp, at school and Sunday school, or gathered around the piano at home.
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[...] by the time God has been depersonalized to the point of being some abstract and timeless principle of beauty or goodness, it is hard to see how the existence of God could explain anything. (p. 180)
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Wikipedia in English (5)

In this groundbreaking and very accessible book, Daniel C. Dennett, the acclaimed author of Consciousness Explained, demonstrates the power of the theory of natural selection and shows how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of our place in the universe. Following Darwinian thinking to its logical conclusions is a risky business, with pitfalls for everybody. Creationists and others who reject evolution are not the only ones to fall into the traps. Many who accept the validity of Darwin's conclusions hesitate before their implications and distort his theory, fearful that it is politically incorrect or antireligious, or that it robs life of all spirituality. Dennett explains the scientific theory of natural selection in vivid terms, and shows how it extends far beyond biology.

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Book description
In 1859 verscheen een van de belangrijkste boeken van onze tijd: The Oriain of Species van Charles Danvin. De bescheiden Britse dokterszoon met een geniaal talent voor wetenschap veroorzaakte met dit boek een aardschok die nog altijd natrilt. Zijn stelling was dat alle leven op aarde voortkomt uit een
voortdurende strijd om de schaarse ruimte en j Bemiddelen. Alles wat ons verbaast en verrukt in de levende natuur, maar ook alles wat ons verbijstert door zijn nietsontziende wreedheid - inclusief het gedrag van de mens — kan uiteindelijk verklaard worden met één makkelijk te begrijpen idee: de evolutieleer.
Maar is Darwins leer ook bewezen? De eeuw die sindsdien verstreken is, heeft behalve aanhangers ook tegenstanders voortgebracht. Filosofen en religieuze denkers maar ook biologen vielen Danvin met krachtige argumenten aan, en doen dat nog. Dennett zet in dit boek alle voors en tegeos van de evolutietheorie op een rij en schrijft daarmee de complete geschiedenis van een idee. Met superieur inzicht in de grote lijnen maar ook in details beschrijft hij hoe één idee, op zichzelf zo simpel dat elk schoolkind het begrijpt, onze kijk op de natuur en op onszelf blijvend kon veranderen.
Daniel C. Dennett is een van de meest gerespecteerde filosofen van dit moment en sinds de VPRO-serie Een schitterend ongeluk ook in Nederland geen onbekende. Van zijn hand verscheen eerder bij Uitgeverij Contact Het bewustzijn verklaard, waarover de pers schreef:
'Stilistisch it zijn boek - zeker voor een Nederlands filosofisch publiek — openbaring door de korzeligbeul, de ironische toon, de grapjes en de aandacht voor wetenschap.'
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