Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanins of Life

by Daniel C. Dennett

Simon & Schuster | June 12, 1996 | Trade Paperback

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanins of Life is rated 4.66666666666667 out of 5 by 3.
In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet," focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 592 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1 in

Published: June 12, 1996

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 068482471X

ISBN - 13: 9780684824710

Found in: Science and Nature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profound! Engaging. Enthralling. Totally Mesmerizing. Simply Astounding. A truly masterful work!
Date published: 2006-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Darwin's new bulldog If you read but one book on evolution, this is the one. Not about the mechanics of evolution, but an expression of the impact of the most important idea in history. Darwin's idea means the end of the concept of 'nature by design', impacting every scientific thought since its publication. The influence on society at large remains unresolved. Reading this book clarifies any doubts you may have on the importance of evolution. Thomas H. Huxley was termed 'Darwin's Bulldog' for his tenacious defense of evolution. Dennett has replaced him in this role. Dennett's writing ability is unsurpassed in presenting Darwin's thesis and the subsequent debates over the process of natural selection. It reads almost as if you were simply sitting with him discussing the topics. As a philosopher instead of a scientist, Dennett isn't hampered by committment to any particular stance. His detached view allows him the freedom to lucidly explain how important Darwin's idea is to all of us. A fine work by a leading thinker.
Date published: 2000-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Solid Book If you are a seeker of the objective reality, you must read this book. The Insights offered by the author are completely practical and profound. Just the book I was looking for.
Date published: 1999-09-28

– More About This Product –

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanins of Life

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanins of Life

by Daniel C. Dennett

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 592 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1 in

Published: June 12, 1996

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 068482471X

ISBN - 13: 9780684824710

Read from the Book

Chapter 1Tell Me Why1. Is Nothing Sacred?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. One of my favorite songs was "Tell Me Why." (For those whose personal memories don't already embrace this little treasure, the music is provided in the appendix. The simple melody and easy harmony line are surprisingly beautiful.)Tell me why the stars do shine,Tell me why the ivy twines,Tell me why the sky's so blue.Then I will tell you just why I love you.Because God made the stars to shine,Because God made the ivy twine,Because God made the sky so blue.Because God made you, that's why I love you.This straightforward, sentimental declaration still brings a lump to my throat -- so sweet, so innocent, so reassuring a vision of life!And then along comes Darwin and spoils the picnic. Or does he? That is the topic of this book. From the moment of the publication of Origin of Species in 1859, Charles Darwin's fundamental idea has inspired intense reactions ranging from ferocious condemnation to ecstatic allegiance, sometimes tantamount to religious zeal. Darwin's theory has been abused and misrepresented by friend and foe alike. It has been misappropriated to lend scientific respectability to appalling political and social doctrines. It has been pilloried in caricature by opponents, some of whom would have it compete in our children's schools with "creation science," a pathetic hodgepodge of pious
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Table of Contents

ContentsPrefacePart I: Starting in the MiddleCHAPTER ONETell Me Why1. Is Nothing Sacred?2. What, Where, When, Why -- and How?3. Locke's "Proof" of the Primacy of Mind4. Hume's Close EncounterCHAPTER TWOAn Idea Is Born1. What Is So Special About Species?2. Natural Selection -- an Awful Stretcher3. Did Darwin Explain the Origin of Species?4. Natural Selection as an Algorithmic Process5. Processes as AlgorithmsCHAPTER THREEUniversal Acid1. Early Reactions2. Darwin's Assault on the Cosmic Pyramid3. The Principle of the Accumulation of Design4. The Tools for R and D: Skyhooks or Cranes?5. Who's Afraid of Reductionism?CHAPTER FOURThe Tree of Life1. How Should We Visualize the Tree of Life?2. Color-coding a Species on the Tree3. Retrospective Coronations: Mitochondrial Eve and Invisible Beginnings4. Patterns, Oversimplification, and ExplanationCHAPTER FIVEThe Possible and the Actual1. Grades of Possibility?2. The Library of Mendel3. The Complex Relation Between Genome and Organism4. Possibility NaturalizedCHAPTER SIXThreads of Actuality in Design Space1. Drifting and Lifting Through Design Space2. Forced Moves in the Game of Design3. The Unity of Design SpacePart II: Darwinian Thinking in BiologyCHAPTER SEVENPriming Darwin' s Pump1. Back Beyond Darwin's Frontier2. Molecular Evolution3. The Laws of the Game of Life4. Eternal Recurrence -- Life Without Foundations?CHAPTER EIGHTBiology Is Engineering1. The Sciences of the Artificial2. Darwin Is Dead -- Long Live Darwin!3. Function and
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From the Publisher

In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet," focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.

About the Author

Daniel Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Elbow Room, and Consciousness Explained. He is currently the Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts, with his wife and has two children.

From Our Editors

Nominated for the 1995 National Book Award for Non-Fiction, this masterly exploration reaffirms the validity of Darwin's theory of natural selection and brilliantly demonstrates its compatibility with free will, sacred beliefs, and the dignity of humankind.

Editorial Reviews

Jim Holt The Wall Street Journal Dennett is a philosopher of rare originality, rigor, and wit. Here he does one of the things philosophers are supposed to be good at: clearing up conceptual muddles in the sciences.