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4 - Mechanism and Human Nature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2021

Michael Ruse
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

What does Darwin’s theory have to say about human evolution? To answer this question, we turn first to philosophical discussions on the nature of rationality, specifically those of David Hume and Immanuel Kant. They both argue that the mind is preformed for thinking, with certain norms about mathematics and causality a priori for the individual human. Darwin argues that this is all a product of selection. Those proto-humans who took mathematics and causality seriously survived and reproduced, and those that did not, did not. This is Pragmatism, as we see from a brief consideration of the thinking of C. S. Peirce in the nineteenth century and Richard Rorty in the twentieth. We are not stuck in relativism, because the scientific evidence is that there is little genetic variation between humans. What we do not have, because Darwinism is within the mechanism paradigm, is any way of extracting absolute value from science and hence the natural world. Darwinian science cannot prove human superiority. This is preparing the way for existentialism.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Mechanism and Human Nature
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.005
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  • Mechanism and Human Nature
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.005
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Mechanism and Human Nature
  • Michael Ruse, Florida State University
  • Book: A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings
  • Online publication: 20 May 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108907057.005
Available formats
×