Friday, July 24, 2009

Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World - George Levine

"Levine again and again shows how evolutionary science can allow one to view the world with awe and reverence."
—Robert Pennock, American Scientist

Although the bumper-sticker title seems glib, Levine's book is most assuredly not. It will be a difficult read for nonphilosophers, even though Levine, professor emeritus of English at Rutgers, raises noteworthy points. His main premise is that a close reading of Darwin disproves Max Weber's contention that a "rational scientific" outlook "expels meaning and value from the world." Levine argues persuasively that an understanding of Darwinism can lead to a secular enchantment of the sort experienced by Darwin himself as he worked to make sense of the world around him: "an attitude of awe and love toward the multiple forms of life" in all their extraordinary diversity. Enchantment of this type, Levine explains, is no less important or meaningful than enchantment arising from religion. Levine also offers a textual analysis of Darwin to demonstrate that much writing that claims to derive from Darwin, especially within the realm of politics, does not necessarily follow from his original intent. With polemicists from all portions of the political spectrum attempting to use Darwin to their own advantage, Levine offers a fair warning to readers to be wary of the political extrapolation, because scientific theories themselves have no political content. Publishers Weekly

File Size: 4 MB
Format: pdf

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