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Darwin's Dangerous Idea

alexandrakg's picture

 Something interesting Dennett points out in Darwin's Dangerous Idea is that while Darwin did not point out specifically a 'creator' as the cause of variation or evolution, he does rely on the idea of a 'mechanism' pushing the process forward.  The parallel to Hume was actually quite striking, who wrote of a grand 'mechanic' who tried and failed until he got the world right, "Many fruitless trials made: And a slow, but continued improvement carried on during infinite ages of world-making" (Dennett 31).  Though Hume did not his own idea seriously and was merely musing for the sake of argument, it is certainly interesting.  Hume did not imagine that there were nothing at all behind the evolutionary process, and to a certain extent, neither did Darwin.  Natural Selection is almost a separate thing, not necessarily a being, but a force of its own.  We had discussed this before in class, whether or not Darwin believed in a higher power, and I think because of his upbringing and the general culture of the time, it was difficult for him to imagine that there was nothing out there at all. He had to replace God with Natural Selection for the world to make sense.  Also, one could argue, perhaps the process did not make sense without a higher power because Darwin lacked the modern technological tools to make closer observations.

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