The rise of modern genetics banished from evolutionary thinking the contributions of such seminal figures as Samuel Butler, William Bateson and Teilhard de Chardin. Later in the 20th century Gregory Bateson, William’s son, tried to revive them. Unfortunately, the result is an almost impenetrably tangled muddle. Still, as a recent representative of that alternative tradition I thought his book qualified for review as a classic. Review here.

How many selfs do we have? Kahneman points out that we each have at least two. One is the “experiencing” self that experiences the present moment. The other, the “remembering” self, provides us with access to memories of past present-moment experiences.

So obvious, so banal. Except… I’m astonished how this simple distinction can induce so much illumination. More...

“It has become a stereotype accepted almost without thought, without question--and remains unexamined. ‘Science says’ it seems, that life and man are ‘random’ results of an ‘accident’ in ‘chemistry’. And although this contradicts all that we know of the world and ourselves, it remains the only philosophy of life that seems to be upheld by the one remaining authority in the modern world, science… Week after week one is reminded by chance remarks in publications that many people accept a certain attitude to life, a metaphysic, coming across to the humanities from science, that can only be menacing to any sense that life can have meaning. I hope this explains how an English specialist came to adventure into debate on evolutionary theory—for the grounds of the myth are in Darwinism.” Most of Holbrook's book is commentary on the writings of others, but at the beginning and the end he draws on his own experiences of the relation of the humanities to evolutionary theory. Full review.

I've just published a new theory of evolution as a Kindle book here. The full title is, What it Means we Evolved: A Theory of Evolution for Artists and the Humanities. I present it in Part One of the book in the form of an updating of stoic physics. Part Two is all the stories I wrote through which I arrived at the various elements of the theory. Part Three is other writings related to science to give me some credibility as an authority on evolution! To the right of the Amazon page you can ask to have a sample sent to your Kindle reader, which includes the introduction. Then go ahead and buy it, it's only $5. If you can't afford that send me your email address and I'll have a free copy sent to you.

Why is this book important? Because it is still referred to as the basis for the population statistics on which rests the reigning scientific theory of evolution. As recently as 2010 Fisher was Richard Dawkins’ choice for the greatest biologist since Darwin: "He therefore could be said to have provided researchers in biology and medicine with their most important research tools, as well as with the modern version of biology’s central theorem.” But is the statistics within it sound. I conclude, no. More...

Natural selection is no mere idle fancy. Every so the logic behind it stirs a call for eugenics. "Unless we embrace genetic engineering, we will become a sickly and frail species" says Johnjoe McFadden, reader in molecular microbiology at the University of Surrey. Is natural selection so established a theory that we must take to the tumbrills and the guilotine once more?

Natural selection is notoriously hard to critique. Logically, it must contribute to evolution to some extent, just as, logically, friction must to some extent contribute to driving an automobile. But just as friction doesn't actually drive the automobile, natural selection may not be what actually drives evolution. How can we think our way through this?

I've arrived at a context in which it may be easier to evaluate natural selection. It's a physical situation that I think presents us with a parallel with the action of natural selection. More...

You asked for it! Here it is. A review of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. I give it an F.

Video ventriloquism workshop "Think like a dummy" defending a dualist theory of mind, where I operate two dummies, one representing physicalism and the other dualism. Consider this for a college humanities department presentation, either as projected video, or having me perform.

This article quotes from and responds to April-May 2014 posts on Scientia Salon.

“A few [philosophers] have been seen administering a number of discreet kicks to what appears to be the corpse of dualism: Get up, you fat fool, I need you,” (Mark English, “Does Philosophy Have a Future,” May 26). Mike Trites reminds us how remote material monism is from the dualist world view of the large section of the public that rejects physicalism (“What to do about consciousness,” April 23). In an attempt to reanimate the supposed corpse I have extracted from that world view a set of axioms and on them built a dualist theory of evolution. More...

In my review I useTrefil’s book to make a point: believing in natural selection does matter, if you’re James Trefil. “given that we have the ability to manage our planet, what will we manage it for? When I go through the exercise of asking how the planet should be managed, I come up with a very simple rule: The global ecosystem should be managed for the benefit, broadly conceived, of human beings. I call this the benefit-to-humans principle.” Why it matters what James Trefil believes is, he’s a fellow of the World Economic Forum. Full review...