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

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


By (author) Daniel C. Dennett

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 592 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 198mm x 32mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 26 September 1996
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 014016734X
  • ISBN 13: 9780140167344
  • Illustrations note: bibliography, index
  • Sales rank: 45,338

Product description

In Darwin's "Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life" Daniel C. Dennett argues that the theory of evolution can demystify the miracles of life without devaluing our most cherished beliefs. From the moment it first appeared, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has been controversial: misrepresented, abused, denied and fiercely debated. In this powerful defence of Darwin, Daniel C. Dennett explores every aspect of evolutionary thinking to show why it is so fundamental to our existence, and why it affirms - not threatens - our convictions about the meaning of life. "Essential and pleasurable for any thinking person". (Stephen Pinker). "A surpassingly brilliant book. Where creative, it lifts the reader to new intellectual heights. Where critical, it is devastating". (Richard Dawkins). "A brilliant piece of persuasion, excitingly argued and compulsively readable". ("The Times Higher Education Supplement"). "Superb...This is the best single-author overview of all the implications of evolution by natural selection available ...deserves a place on the bookshelves of every thinking person". (John Gribbin, "Sunday Times"). "Dennett's book brings together science and philosophy with wit, complex clarity and an infectious sense that these ideas matter, to us and the way we live now". (A. S. Byatt, "Sunday Times Books of the Year"). Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most original and provocative thinkers in the world. A brilliant polemicist and philosopher, he is famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies, and an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. His books include "Brainstorms", "Brainchildren", "Elbow Room", "Breaking the Spell", "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", "Consciousness Explained" and "Freedom Evolves".

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Author information

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.

Editorial reviews

This contribution to the Darwin industry comes from an American professor who is in some ways a counterpart to our own Richard Dawkins, forcefully arguing the case that contends Darwin's 'great idea' (natural selection) is all you need to understand how evolution works. Dennett is above all a great communicator of enthusiasm about ideas. In this stunning book he provides an entertaining and illuminating synopsis of the various descendants of Darwinism. But, more importantly, he provides a philosophical analysis of the implications of Darwin's thought for every aspect of our lives. Dennett compares the consequences of Darwinism to 'universal acid', a fictional chemical which can eat through every vessel in which you try to contain it. Controversial topics such as punctuated equilibrium and sociobiology are discussed in their proper context, consciousness is explained, and our place in the universe is pondered. A massive, far-ranging book that will keep you intrigued throughout the long winter evenings. This brilliant exposition of the position known as ultra-Darwinism will surely become a classic. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

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.