Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett: Book Reviews
Dennett's previous books were on subjects not my own, and I learned much
and drew deep inspiration from them. Now he has entered a field that
I know intimately and I find that I learn more and am even more
positively inspired. This is a surpassingly brilliant book. Where creative,
it lifts the reader to new intellectual heights. Where criticial, it is
devastating. Dennett shows that American intellectuals have been powerfully
misled on evolutionary matters, and his book will undo much damage.
Dennett's dangerous idea: to use his gift for lucid explanation and his
twinkling wit to cure the strange allergy to Darwin in modern intellectual life.
It is essential and pleasurable reading for any thinking person.
With characteristic insight, verve, and wit, Dan Dennett ranges over
central problems of philosophy, evolutionary biology, and cognitive science.
Readers of Darwin's Dangerous Idea will not always be convinced,
but they will be informed, entertained, and provoked by its arguments.
Dennett's big themes are Life and Mind, and he is a wonderful advertisement
for the life of the mind.
If you want an exciting, wide-ranging romp through great ideas,
read this book. Daniel Dennett proves fully worthy of Charles Darwin.
Dennett shows that there are perfectly good cranes available for hauling
higher intellectiual functions up by their bootstraps. This will no doubt
disappoint those fans of the consciousness physicists and the anti-AI
philosophers who seek mircaulous skyhooks to keep us well insulated from the brain
mechanisms of mere animals. But Dennett argues, entertains, and cajoles
very effectively; the skeptical reader who asks 'Show me how it could be done'
will find incremental answers.
In this clear and rigorous testing of Darwinian theory across modern
science, Dennett persuades us that evolution by natural selection
is vital to the future of philosophy.
Darwin's dangerous idea is seductively simple: all the complexity and
diversity we witness around us can be explained by natural selection,
a mindless and algorithmic process.
Yet it is so easy to miss the subtle implications and misapply
the knowledge, some of recent history's brightest minds
(including professional evolutionary biologists!) have fallen in confusion.
Fortunately Dennett has turned his illuminating attention on the problem.
With his keen wit and conversational style he proves to be a masterful
sightseeing guide on the incredible and exciting journey begun by Darwin.
Truly inspiring, I highly recommend it to all Virions.
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