Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

By Daniel C. Dennett

In a e-book that's either groundbreaking and available, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the main provocative thinkers at the planet," focuses his unerringly logical brain at the concept of normal choice, exhibiting how Darwin's nice proposal transforms and illuminates our conventional view of humanity's position within the universe. Dennett vividly describes the idea itself after which extends Darwin's imaginative and prescient with impeccable arguments to their usually marvelous conclusions, not easy the perspectives of a few of the main well-known scientists of our day.

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Extra info for Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

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But then along have come the cranes, discovered in many cases by the very skeptics who were hoping to find a skyhook. It is time for some more careful definitions. Let us understand that a skyhook is a "mind-first" force or power or process, an exception to the principle that all design, and apparent design, is ultimately the result of mindless, motiveless mechanicity. A crane, in contrast, is a subprocess or special feature of a design process that can be demonstrated to permit the local speeding up of the basic, slow process of natural selection, and that can be demonstrated to be itself the predictable (or retrospectively explicable ) product of the basic process.

This is a welcome complication, a wrinkle in evolutionary theory that removes one reasonable and compelling source of doubt, and enhances our vision of the power of Darwin's idea, especially when it is cascaded in multiple, nested applications. And it is typical of the outcome of other searches and controversies we will explore: the motivation, the passion that drove the research, was the hope of finding a skyhook; the triumph was finding how the same work could be done with a crane. 5. WHO'S AFRAID OF REDUCTIONISM?

So the long-term payoff of heightened efficiency, acuity, and speed of the redesign process—the features that make sex a magnificent crane—is as nothing to the myopic, local competitions that must determine which organisms get favored in the very next generation. Some other, short-term, benefit must have maintained the positive selection pressure required to make sexual reproduction an offer few species could refuse. There are a variety of compelling—and competing—hypotheses that might solve this puzzle, which was first forcefully posed for biologists by John Maynard Smith ( 1978).

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