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Thread: Bulldogs and rottweilers

  1. #1 Bulldogs and rottweilers 
    ox
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    Can I just check if I've got this right?
    Thomas Huxley was Darwin's bulldog.
    Richard Dawkins is Darwin's rottweiler.
    Daniel Dennett is Dawkins' bulldog.
    Is there a Dawkins' rottweiler or a Dennett's bulldog, or don't they exist yet?
    Does Stephen Jay Gould have a canine supporter?
    I think I'm getting a bit depressed reading Dawkins' meaning of life books because they don't appear to give life much meaning. So is there an alternative?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    yes, there is an alternative. Stop reading the book and throw the book in the trash.


    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  4. #3  
    ox
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    A bit strong that.
    Isn't The Selfish Gene the greatest book since Origin of Species?
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  5. #4 Re: Bulldogs and rottweilers 
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Does Stephen Jay Gould have a canine supporter?
    The Creeping Fox Terrier (Small joke)


    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    I think I'm getting a bit depressed reading Dawkins' meaning of life books because they don't appear to give life much meaning. So is there an alternative?
    Yup. Read him properly - all he's saying is get rid of the nostrums relating to any meaning being given from 'outside' and make your own.

    Or follow spuriousmonkey's suggestion and stop reading!
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    A bit strong that.
    Isn't The Selfish Gene the greatest book since Origin of Species?
    no
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  7. #6  
    Forum Masters Degree Numsgil's Avatar
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    Dawkins is sort of on the fundamentalist side of the evolutionary spectrum. The other side of that spectrum is probably Stephen Jay Gould. See wiki for relevant reading.
    "A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
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  8. #7  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Dawkins doesn't tell you what life means, because life has no intrinsic meaning on its own. Life simply is. Whatever meaning it has is the meaning you give it. If you're looking for someone to tell you what life means, biologists are not the right people to ask.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Dawkins doesn't tell you what life means, because life has no intrinsic meaning on its own. Life simply is. Whatever meaning it has is the meaning you give it. If you're looking for someone to tell you what life means, biologists are not the right people to ask.
    I was going to say, well, this. Meaning is a thing people make up. So you need to find it yourself really.
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  10. #9  
    ox
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    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Philosophers? I doubt it, having read Russells's History of Western Philosophy.
    Theologians? I don't think so. If they are not creationists, they are not theologians.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Philosophers? I doubt it, having read Russells's History of Western Philosophy.
    Theologians? I don't think so. If they are not creationists, they are not theologians.
    You have to decide on meaning for yourself. It's not something you can sit around and wait for people to tell you. That's my opinion, anyway.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  12. #11  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Ask yourself what "meaning" and "purpose" actually are. They're concepts held by humans. They can no more exist outside of us than our emotions can. So what possible objective "meaning of life" could there be, and who would hold that meaning? It's up to you to either accept a meaning as handed to you by someone else or to define your own purpose in life.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Stupid people can.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Philosophers? I doubt it, having read Russells's History of Western Philosophy.
    Theologians? I don't think so. If they are not creationists, they are not theologians.
    You have to decide on meaning for yourself. It's not something you can sit around and wait for people to tell you. That's my opinion, anyway.
    And mine.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  15. #14  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Ask yourself what "meaning" and "purpose" actually are. They're concepts held by humans. They can no more exist outside of us than our emotions can. So what possible objective "meaning of life" could there be, and who would hold that meaning? It's up to you to either accept a meaning as handed to you by someone else or to define your own purpose in life.
    Unless you're an ethical naturalist that believes moral principles come out of natural phenomena like Dr. Somerville

    http://www.unisa.edu.au/hawkecentre/...nversation.asp

    I find it very uneasing that she often is consulted by politicians and the UN for her opinions on ethics and law. I find her opinions disgusting, but she's one of those people who are very charming in person, I almost felt like going out to bomb a stem cell lab after attending one of her lectures.
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  16. #15  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    If your reading philosophy looking for a meaning your not reading what the philosophy is, the product of a life of contemplation, your reading what that individuals life of contemplation means to you

    your life, if spent contemplating, would create a unique philosophy based on your circumstances, this world, this day and age, whatever cultures you are and have been a part of will resonate completely

    but yes, life doesn't have meaning unless you make meaning, but life doesn't need meaning either

    the feelings you get associated with meaninglessness and purposefulness are hormonal changes, the only reason meaninglessness seems bad is because of the way it makes you feel, the way you are used to feeling you associate with purposefulness and then when you feel bad you associate it with meaninglessness... it is cultural brainwashing, more or less, trying to make you into a productive citizen living a life full of meaningful distractions from meaningless reality... the truth is meaningless ONLY to those who expect meaning
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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  17. #16  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    If biologists can't provide any meaning to life then who can?
    Ask yourself what "meaning" and "purpose" actually are. They're concepts held by humans. They can no more exist outside of us than our emotions can. So what possible objective "meaning of life" could there be, and who would hold that meaning? It's up to you to either accept a meaning as handed to you by someone else or to define your own purpose in life.
    Unless you're an ethical naturalist that believes moral principles come out of natural phenomena like Dr. Somerville

    http://www.unisa.edu.au/hawkecentre/...nversation.asp

    I find it very uneasing that she often is consulted by politicians and the UN for her opinions on ethics and law. I find her opinions disgusting, but she's one of those people who are very charming in person, I almost felt like going out to bomb a stem cell lab after attending one of her lectures.
    Well, where do you think values derive from? I'm not familiar with the woman or her work, but I tend to hold that our values are a product of our evolutionary history as it interfaces with our culture. I think many spiritualists feel that opening the black box means that you can throw away morals. But I think that knowing where our values come from doesn't really change much. We cannot for example dismiss our love for our children or partners just because we know that love is an evolutionary necessity for an intelligent social species and that it is mediated by mechanisms x, y and z. Our values are not a choice, though they can be informed by what we know about the universe.
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  18. #17  
    ox
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    Thanks for the posts.
    In recent years I have had to live with close ones passing away. I have stayed at monasteries and have attended churches and temples. I have quizzed priests of different religions. I have read any number of books.
    My opinion is simply that everyone tries to find a meaning to life in any number of ways and no one succeeds. (sorry if this is not science). My gut instinct is for Dawkins. The more I read the more sense it makes. My vote for the best popular science book is The Selfish Gene. Second is Unweaving the Rainbow. Third is River out of Eden. To paraphrase Matt Ridley in Genome, I was born in a country where the secret of life was discovered, within my own lifetime and only about 100 miles away in Cambridge. I was also born only about 40 miles from where Darwin was born on 12th February, which is also my birthday.
    Best wishes
    Steve Wilby.
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  19. #18  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista

    Well, where do you think values derive from? I'm not familiar with the woman or her work, but I tend to hold that our values are a product of our evolutionary history as it interfaces with our culture. I think many spiritualists feel that opening the black box means that you can throw away morals. But I think that knowing where our values come from doesn't really change much. We cannot for example dismiss our love for our children or partners just because we know that love is an evolutionary necessity for an intelligent social species and that it is mediated by mechanisms x, y and z. Our values are not a choice, though they can be informed by what we know about the universe.
    I don't disagree that our values such as they stand largely based on our intuition are influenced by evolution. Where I differ from naturalist like Dr. Somerville, is that I think our intuitions are inherently meaningless when it comes to what is and isn't actually wrong or right. Peter Singer is a strong supporter of the view that our intuitions often mislead us when it comes to actual moral problems. (His support of infanticide is a good example)

    Dr. Somerville would say that because we evolved to be kind to others, we must be kind to others. Although I agree that we should be kind to others, I don't think this is sufficient reason.
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