Know any Evolution books?

Richard M Kliman rkliman at
Sun Jan 14 13:06:11 EST 1996

This is a response to Bora's most recent post in this thread.  Please 
read the original for context.

I agree with some of Bora's concerns with "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," but
I wonder to what extent they arise from errors in Dennett's reasoning as 
opposed to errors inferred from his rhetoric.  I didn't get the sense 
that Dennett felt that human-like intelligent life forms were an 
evolutionary inevitability.  Rather, such organisms don't require 
extra-evolutionary explanations.  Granted, Dennett does suggest that 
certain characteristics are expected to evolve (e.g., photoreceptors), 
but does he really go on to suggest that the entire human phenotype is 
expected to evolve?  The "dangerous idea," not being evolution itself, is 
that the existence of our species on this planet in this universe 
requires no supernatural a posteriori explanation.  Does Dennett really 
argue that the physical laws of the universe would predict, a priori, the 
evolution of our species?

Dennett does go on a bit in his criticism of Gould, not so much with 
regard to his work, but with regard to his writing.  Is it fair to say 
that Dennett's criticism of Gould is related to his perception that Gould 
has exaggerated the impact of (1) the theory of punctuated equilibrium and 
(2) "The spandrels of San Marco...?"

Rich Kliman

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