This book is a work of philosophy, steeped in science and deficient in pedantry, harking back (or forard?) to an age when philosophy encompassed science and had not yet turned itself into a narrow academic speciality.
The book makes a case for Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, and for certain modern elaborations of that theory (e.g. that evolution is an algorithmic process). It also draws philosophical conclusions from these evolutionary theories, for example, against essentialism, about the relationship between mind and matter, and about morality.
The book is presented in three parts, the first is Dennett's presentation of the theory, the second is his reaction to the controversies which still surround it, and the third is a positive modern perspective on the implications of the theory, cultural, philosophical, moral.
|Part I||Starting in the middle|
|Chapter 1||Tell me Why|
|Chapter 2||An Idea is Born|
|Chapter 3||Universal Acid|
|Chapter 4||The Tree of Life|
|Chapter 5||The Possible and the Actual|
|Chapter 6||Threads of Actuality in Design Space|
|Part II||Darwinian Thinking in Biology|
|Chapter 7||Priming Darwin's Pump|
|Chapter 8||Biology is Engineering|
|Chapter 9||Searching for Quality|
|Chapter 10||Bully for Brontosaurus|
|Part III||Mind, Meaning, Mathematics, and Morality|
Part III - Mind, Meaning, Mathematics, and Morality
|Sorry readers, by the time I got to Part III my motivation was flagging and I was really pretty dissappointed, having acquired a sense of what Dennett was trying to do. It was touch and go whether the book went in the bin. I did finish it and put it back on the shelf, but notes on Part III never emerged.|