Demonstration of the power of the theory of natural selection which shows how Darwin's great idea transformed and illuminated traditional views of our place in the universe. Dennett lays out the current controversies in the field: about the origin of life, punctuated equilibrium, sociobiology, the evolution of language and culture, and evolutionary ethics, and exposes the philosophical, even religious, yearnings that have distorted disputes. He also argues, controversially, that many of today's most eminent scientists, including Stephen Jay Gould, Noam Chomsky and Roger Penrose, have been ultimately unable to accept the power of Darwin's idea.
Part I Starting in the middle: tell me why
- An idea is born
- Universal acid
- The tree of life
- The possible and the actual
- Threads of actuality in design space
Part II Darwinian thinking in biology: priming Darwin's pump
- Biology is engineering
- Searching for quality
- Bully for brontosaurus
- Controversies contained
Part III Mind, meaning, mathematics, and morality: cranes of culture
- Losing our minds to Darwin
- The evolution of meanings
- The emperor's new mind, and other fables
- On the origin of morality
- Redesigning morality
- The future of an idea
Daniel Dennett is the author of Brainstorms, Brainchildren, Elbow Room, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea. 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.
"A surpassingly brilliant book. Where creative, it lifts the reader to new intellectual heights. Where critical, it is devastating."
– Richard Dawkins