reading … (#2)

One of the books I am reading now is Richard Dawkin’s The Ancestor’s Tale. I like this passage:

“Biological evolution has no privileged line of descent and no designated end. Evolution has reached many millions of interim ends <…>, and there is no reason other than vanity – human vanity <…> – to designate any one as more privileged or climactic than any other.”

Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that reading in parallel The Robot’s Rebellion – Finding Meaning in the age of Darwin (Keith Stanovich) I stumble across this:

“… the general public continues to believe in the discredited notion of evolutionary progress, this despite the fact that Stephen Jay Gould <…> has persistently tried to combat this error in his numerous and best-selling books. An important, but misguided, component of this view is the belief that humans are the inevitable pinnacle of evolution (“king of the hill … top of the heap” as the old song goes). Despite the efforts of Gould to correct this misconception, it persists. As Gould constantly reminds us, we are a contingent fact of history, and things could have ended up otherwise- that is, some other organism could have become the dominating influence on the planet”


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