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

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

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684824710
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/28/1996
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 138,687
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

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.

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Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Daniel C. Dennett's book is worthy of its subject matter. That is to say, beautiful in its essence, but complex in its details. Dennett is not trying just to explain Darwin's core ideas about evolution or natural selection. Rather, he is trying to explain how evolution fits into humanity's understanding of itself, life and the world. To do so, he has to explain his views on evolution's context, its implications for human understanding, and the philosophical and scientific currents it rides. He grapples with the emotional uproar that the idea of evolution produced. He works hard to illustrate these concepts, via stories, autobiographical asides, examples, metaphors, drawings, quotes and even jokes. The book is challenging, because of the stimulating content, but absorbing. getAbstract recommends it warmly to readers interested in evolution, and in the intersection of science and culture. Despite its methodical approach, this thoughtful exploration is not for beginners. One other caveat: If you want science blended with faith, Dennett believes that given humanity's quest for facts, "There is no future in a sacred myth." He forthrightly tells those who are distressed by this point of view to "close the book now and tiptoe away."
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dennett¿s ¿Dangerous¿ Influence¿ In almost all cases, while reading a favorite author, I can find at least a few cases of disagreement. (As in Gould with the Separate Magisteria for instance). But I must say that Darwin¿s Dangerous Idea left me wonting (almost entirely) in that department. At every turn, the problems that I had already perceived with the evolutionary philosophy of life, so far delineated by the world¿s experts, were almost exactly the same as Dennett¿s criticisms of the defects in evolutionary theory. And his illuminations were so close to my own understandings that I was astounded that I might even come close to the same understandings as such a distinguished thinker. It is quite amazing that a mere novice, and amateur, such as myself, could identify so closely with such an amazing mind as Dennett¿s. Until a few years ago, I had (mainly) only been exposed to Gould (one of my most precious heroes), as a modern expert. (Sagan [my ultimate hero] and other popularizers led me to Gould), but I finally discovered Dawkins. And all ¿hell¿ (true honesty) broke loose. I found Shermer and the Skeptics Society (which might have happened before Dawkins) and I was finally led to Dennett. If I died today my life would be complete (intellectually). And I have, so far, only read one of his books. The rest are on my immediate wish list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is meant to be a grand positive review of Darwin¿s Dangerous Idea, but I must say that I am a cabinet-maker for a local School Corporation, and my only formal training in evolution is my self-taught, almost fanatic, admiration and love of pure knowledge, and my almost accidental love of reading. (Throughout my school years I had barely read a book). My dad had never read a book in my whole memory. Luckily my mom happened to be a voracious reader, but at the time, that was a negative influence (only women read). But, when I was 19 years old I just happened to catch ¿Cosmos¿ on PBS. Astounding. I then bought ¿Cosmos¿ the book. I then read the book, including the bibliography. That was the launching point. Guess what was in that bibliography?: The Origin of Species. Lucy. Einstein¿s Universe. The Lives of a Cell. The Panda¿s Thumb. From Atoms to Quarks. Etc¿Etc¿Etc¿Etc¿ My life changed totally from a mere carpenter to a vigilant seeker-of-knowledge-and-truth. I have never stopped reading since. It is my favorite hobby. I read a lot of hard Sci-fi for entertainment, but I never abandon the most important (of course that is subjective) science books as my rock-steady-center. This could be a tribute to all my intellectual heroes, (and really, it is), but it took this particular book by Dennett (along with the peculiar state of mind that I am in at this moment) to inspire me to write this testimonial. Daniel C. Dennett: I thank you. - Jeff Rudisel
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Darwin's Dangerous Idea is a well written and thought provoking book. I recently read it in conjunction with Michael Behe¿s Darwin's Black Box and found that both books reveal the rift creeping through the evolutionary faith. Contrary to the reviewer above, I didn¿t feel my Christian faith threatened, but realized that in the face of scientific discoveries Darwin could not have imagined, his Dangerous Idea seems to be increasingly untenable. Dennett¿s ultra-darwinist position seems to me to be the call of a evolutionary fundamentalist rallying the faithful and calling the wayward sheep such as Noam Chomsky, John Searle, and Stephen Jay Gould to ¿repentance.¿ These scientists have found Darwinism an insufficient and even incompatible explanation for the results of their research. I didn¿t really find answers to their objections in Dennett¿s book. Instead there is a detailing of the already well known implications of Darwinism, a call for renewed faith, and an exhortation that the solution lies just beyond the scientific horizon.¿ the orthodox statement of faith repeated since The Origin of Species, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.