- Paperback: 586 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 12, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 068482471X
- ISBN-13: 978-0684824710
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 176 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA: EVOLUTION AND THE MEANINGS OF LIFE Reprint Edition
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One of the best descriptions of the nature and implications of Darwinian evolution ever written, it is firmly based in biological information and appropriately extrapolated to possible applications to engineering and cultural evolution. Dennett's analyses of the objections to evolutionary theory are unsurpassed. Extremely lucid, wonderfully written, and scientifically and philosophically impeccable. Highest Recommendation!
From Publishers Weekly
Dennett's philosophical argument in support of Darwinism was a National Book Award finalist.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Dennet’s idea seems to be to counter challenges to the idea that the variety of life on earth could have been created entirely by natural selection acting on naturally occurring processes. He poses as one of the underlying objections to this idea the fact that many people, including scientists, are uncomfortable with the thought of everything being just random because they feel it takes all meaning out of their lives. This is where he brings in the meme idea in. He proposes that it is the memes that have created the mind (as opposed to the brain) rather than the other way around.
He also discusses quite a bit the idea of evolution as primarily an engineering problem (for both the genes and the memes) using examples from attempts at creating artificial intelligence among other things. Another engineering idea he introduces is the idea of “cranes” as tools of evolution. These are factors that seem to group up in synchronous ways to speed up the entire process of evolution. He contrasts these cranes to what he calls “skyhooks,” cases where the evolutionary process would get a boost from some outside force of mind or design (kind of a deus ex machina effect) that he is looking to disprove.
Just how exactly these ideas describe what actually happened during the evolution of life on earth is difficult for just a regular person to say, but the whole concept is interesting. Except for some of the more far-flung philosophical discussions he makes his points fairly clearly. Recommended for people interested in science generally and evolution in particular. Also for philosophers.