Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Cosmic Heights - Alan Watts, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Jay Gould

"Sigmund Freud often remarked that great revolutions in the history of science have but one common, and ironic, feature: they knock human arrogance off one pedestal after another of our previous conviction about our own self-importance. The first that we associate with Copernicus, Newton, and Galileo that taught us that we weren't living on the central body of a limited universe. And that Darwin's was the second that taught us that we were not separately created in the image of a benevolent deity, but were part of a history of genealogical connectivity of all living things. Now, in an odd sense, we know how contentious the first revolution was; we know the story of Galileo.
But the way I like to put it, I don't think that revolution was as important as Darwin's, because it's about real estate. The Darwinian revolution is about essence; it's deeper. The Darwinian revolution is about who we are, it's what we're made of, it's what our life means insofar as science can answer that question. "
Stephen Jay Gould

"Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming."
John Burden Sanderson Haldane (1892-1964) English geneticist. Possible Worlds and other Essays (1927) "Possible Worlds".

"The importance of the Scientific Revolution for philosophy is beyond question. Modern philosophy the work of both rationalists and empiricists would have been impossible without great advances in physics. Analogously, therefore, we could anticipate that the Darwinian Revolution will have important implications for philosophy. Indeed, I would go further and say that we might expect Darwin's work to have even greater implications for philosophy than those of physics. The theory of evolution through natural selection impinges so directly on our own species. It is not just that we are on a speck of dust whirling around in the void but that we ourselves are no more than transformed apes. If such a realization is not to affect our views of epistemology and ethics, I do not know what is. As I said in the Preface, I find it inconceivable that it is irrelevant to the foundations of philosophy whether we are the end result of a slow natural evolutionary process, or made miraculously in Gods own image on a Friday, some 6,000 years ago. "
Dr. Michael Ruse

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