The Socratic Dennett – Onward and Upward

Made a start on my pile of Dennett original reading. Having realised recently I’m practically a pan-Darwinist, I thought I’d start on “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”.

Skimmed it first, and realised I feel I practically know it already; so many of his chapters and witty headings having been quoted by others since 1995. The respect Dennett pays to his reader just commands reciprocation.

“This book is about science, but it is not itself a work of science.”
“There is no such thing as a sound argument from authority …”
“… when I quote them, rhetoric and all, I am engaging in persuasion.”

“Since you are reading this book, you have probably read several of ..”
Dawkins, Pinker, Gould, etc …

“And if [I] can’t write a good book after the sterling help of …
[Dawkins, Hofstadter, Pinker, Mayr, Brockman, etc] … [I] should give up !”

After his “peremtory dismissal” of creationism, which I’ve quoted before, he says “The fundamental core of Darwinism is now beyond dispute …” and later “Let me lay my cards on the table. If I were to give an award to the best idea anyone has ever had, I’d give it to Darwin ahead of Newton, Einstein and everybody else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. But it’s not just a wonderful idea. It is a dangerous idea.”

“The philsopher and scientist are in the same boat [quoting Van Quine, quoting Neurath.]” “There is no such thing as philosophy-free science, only science whose philosophical baggage [is unexamined]” And the unexamined life is not worth living, is it. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread [quoting Pope]. Do you want to follow me ?”

And so he’s headlong into Aristotle’s misguided teleology.
And Locke too. “Go run along and stop asking such silly questions.”
It’s why / how, not why / because, dummy.

With respect, I’m not sure I need to read this, but I’m going to enjoy it.
What is it about men with bushy beards ?

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