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SPONTANEOUS ORDER, EVOLUTION, AND NATURAL LAW

Kuhnian denial is prominent in Darwin's Dangerous Idea in Dennett's Whiggish account the Darwinian Revolution, in the way he attempts to link Darwin with selfish algorithm theory, and also his characterization of the state of contemporary Darwinism. Although one would never know it from reading Dennett's book in which he writes that all the "major charges" against it have been contained (Dennett 1995b, pp. 313, 314), Darwinism, today, is in a fight for its theoretical life. In contrast to what are, in fact, the "big problems" that challenge Darwinian theory at its core, questions which, not coincidentally, bear a direct and deep connection to understanding the active, or epistemic nature of the world, the "major charges" against Darwinian theory that Dennett invokes are strawpersons that typically play no role whatsoever in the current cutting-edge debates. Even Darwinians such as Depew and Weber (1995; Weber & Depew, 1996) who have put forth their own attempt to expand Darwinism with the explicit hope of saving from becoming a degenerating research program per Lakatos, express their lack of assuredness about whether or not Darwinism can, in fact, be saved. Other prominent former Darwinians, such as Salthe (1972), have already said goodby to Darwinism in the search of broader, more comprehensive theories (e.g., Salthe 1985, 1994; see also Swenson, 1991a, Swenson, 1996, Swenson in press-c, and Swenson & Turvey, 1991 for further discussion).

What follows is in four main sections. The first challenges Dennett's historical account, the second his view of life as an algorithmic process and as the source of all agency and meaning in the universe, the third his view that life is a process that works against or defies the laws of physics-the assertion of the two incommensurable rivers, and the fourth and final section, Dennett's claim that Darwinism, in any of its forms, is vindicated and secure.

 

'DARWIN'S (DENNETT'S) DANGEROUS IDEA(S)',
THE 'DARWINIAN REVOLUTION', AND 'WHIG HISTORY', AND THE SCOPE OF EVOLUTIONARY DISCOURSE


What Was Darwin's Idea?

Towards the end of building and then trading on the Darwin's divinity to promote his own algorithmic theory of agency and mind in nature Dennett repeatedly restates the great or "dangerous" idea of Darwin, the idea that is ostensibly the subject of the book, in nonequivalent terms that become progressively removed from anything Darwin ever said, or could have said. Upon being confronted with his ideas "the idea of evolution must have struck Darwin's contemporaries", Dennett (1995a, p. 36) writes, as "[u]tter nonsense, of course. Inconceivable." This implies that the idea of evolution itself was new with Darwin even to the wealthy, well-educated elite that made up his social circle. The impression that

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