Os discípulos de Darwin contemporâneos

quarta-feira, junho 30, 2010

Darwin’s Disciples Today

by Carson Holloway

December 18, 2009

As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of the Species, it is time to realize that the best way to honor his legacy is to fight its over-extension and misapplication into the realm of politics. The second in a two-part series.

Charles Darwin has never had a lack of enemies, but today he is more threatened by his own misguided disciples than by any opponents of science. Consider, in the first place, Peter Singer and his call for A Darwinian Left, published in 1999. Singer’s aim is to convince the Left to drop Karl Marx and take up Charles Darwin as its main source of intellectual inspiration. This change is necessary, Singer holds, because the events of the twentieth century have discredited Marx by revealing his inadequate understanding of human nature. Marx dismissed fears that the creation of an all-powerful communist state would lead to tyranny, because he believed that the social and economic transformation that would make such a state possible would also transform human nature so that tyranny would no longer have to be feared. This was a mistake, and, Singer implies, a responsible Left will have to avoid it by embracing a more realistic account of human nature, such as the one offered by Darwinian biology.

To propose such a change of paradigms, however, raises the question of whether the Left can embrace Darwinism while still remaining the Left. Singer thus has to ask: what is essential to the Left, and is it compatible with Darwinism? In answer to the first question, Singer holds that a certain egalitarianism, or concern with equality, is essential to the Left, specifically a concern with supporting the weak and seeking to ameliorate their condition. In answer to the second question, Singer contends that egalitarianism can be made compatible with Darwinism, but only if that egalitarianism is moderated and made more realistic on the basis of what Darwinism teaches us about human nature. For example, the Left’s egalitarianism teaches it to disapprove the competition of the capitalist economy and the inequalities it produces and to desire a more cooperative arrangement. Singer thinks that such inclinations are compatible with Darwin, because Darwinism teaches that human beings have naturally evolved inclinations toward cooperation. Thus there is something in Darwinian human nature with which the Left can work: it can seek to devise social structures that make it easier for our cooperative inclinations to express themselves. Nevertheless, a Darwinian Left will have to be much more modest in its expectations for such a project. For, unlike the older, Marx-inspired Left, which thought that competition was merely a product of social and economic conditions, a Darwin-inspired Left will recognize that there is a competitive and even selfish streak in human nature itself.

While much of Singer’s argument emphasizes the limitations that Darwinism imposes on Leftist aspirations, there is one area in which he suggests that Darwin has something more positive to contribute to the Left, at least indirectly, by way of debunking the assumptions of its enemies. As an example, Singer brings forward the Biblical idea that God gave man dominion over the lower animals. This belief, Singer contends, still influences our thinking even though it has been “thoroughly refuted by the theory of evolution,” which reveals “a continuum between humans and animals,” with respect to both their physical make up as well as their powers of mind. Animals, Darwin showed, “are capable of love, memory, curiosity, reason, and sympathy for each other.” Darwinism therefore eliminates the basis of the notion that human beings are different in kind from other animals, thus preparing a “revolution in our attitudes” toward them. “Darwinian political thinkers,” he concludes, should therefore “be more inclined to recognize, and base policies on, the similarities we identify between humans and nonhuman animals.”

Singer is well-known as a defender of animal liberation, so it is perhaps not surprising that it is here, in relation to some of his most cherished values, that he asks Darwinism to do the most for him. It is precisely where he asks Darwinism to do the most, however, that Singer goes the most wrong. Knowledge of the continuum between humans and non-human animals is less important to the question of a qualitative difference between the two than Singer thinks. Awareness of that continuum is not, I think, as modern a development as Singer believes. Aristotle was aware of it, as were people in the Middle Ages, who believed in a “great chain of being” in which human beings were down with animals pretty close to the bottom. Indeed, this continuum was surely well appreciated even by pre-modern people who had no knowledge of either Aristotle or medieval philosophy. Most pre-modern people, after all, had experience with domesticated animals and were no doubt well aware of animal capacities for thought and emotion. Yet they all still believed in a qualitative difference between humans and non-human animals. They did so very reasonably, on the commonsense understanding that things can be only incrementally different in many respects and yet still qualitatively different in other respects.

Moreover, Singer is mistaken to think that diminishing the perceived difference between human beings and other animals will result in better human treatment of other animals. If we deny a qualitative difference between ourselves and the beasts, we destroy the basis for assuming qualitatively different obligations to them that go with our special status. Put simply, if we claim that we are not really different than other animals, it is not clear then why we should treat other animals any better than they treat each other. After all, animals themselves are not proponents of animal rights.

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: The Public Discourse


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Eu sempre achei que a maneira ardorosa como Darwin é defendido com unhas e dentes pela Nomenklatura científica, galera dos meninos e meninas de Darwin, por ateus e agnósticos, pode muito bem ser 100% caracterizada como 'adoração religiosa'. Tem até 'dogma': seleção natural. Esta não pode ser criticada. Nem cientificamente. Mas, em ciência, nada como um dia atrás do outro. O mito da evolução através da seleção natural está com os dias contados. Quem viver, verá.

Leiam o livro de Søren Løvtrup, Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, Croom Helm, Kent, England, 1987. Edição completamente esgotada, e nem em sebos se encontra uma cópia. Eu tenho uma cópia xerocopiada, mas não empresto a ninguém. Vai ser difícil encontrar em alguma biblioteca de nossas universidades. Nitroglicerina epistêmica pura!

Eu? Eu há muito tempo disse adeus a Darwin sem nenhum remorso. Foi em Piracicaba, SP, 1998 após a leitura do livro A caixa preta de Darwin, de Michael Behe: os processos gradualistas darwinianos não explicam a origem e nem a evolução de um 'simples' flagelo bacteriano. Ora, se não explica esta 'simplicidade' como explicar a diversidade e complexidade das coisas vivas [Alô comissão científica que reprovou minha palestra em História da Ciência, eu estou aprendendo!!!)???

Fui, nem sei por que, pensando -- Darwin mesmo tinha dúvidas sobre o que tinha escrito a respeito da origem das espécies (ele nem escreveu sobre a origem das variações) tinha realmente alguma validade científica. Não sou quem está dizendo, foi Darwin quem escreveu isso. Leiam Darwin e se surpreendam...