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Secularism: Yes, that IS all there is

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File:Nim Chimpsky.jpg
Nim Chimpsky (1973–2000). It was't enough.

And it ain’t enough. From “Is That All There Is?: Secularism and its discontents” (James Wood, The New Yorker):

Altruism, for instance, may involve strong evaluation: we admire it as something larger than ourselves, and those who don’t share our admiration of it seem inadequate, or worse. But where are we left when evolutionary biology tries to reduce the strong evaluation we make about altruism by claiming that, like all animal behavior, it is just a contrivance that benefits our selfish genes? In [philosopher Charles] Taylor’s terms, the question is whether an “upper language,” in which we describe altruism as noble and admirable, can be fully captured by a “lower language,” of instrumental and biological explanation, a language that scrupulously avoids the vocabulary of purpose, intentionality, design, teleology.

The large majority of today’s evolutionary biologists believe that it can, and one outcome is a host of studies attempting to show that chimps are just like people and vice versa. Studies that convince only those who already believe so.

See also: Sharing is learned in humans, not chimps, study says.

Marc “monkeys r’ us” Hauser has resigned from Harvard

The truth about “chimp language capabilities” …

One Reply to “Secularism: Yes, that IS all there is

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    …, and one outcome is a host of studies attempting to show that chimps are just like people and vice versa.

    I don’t think that was ever the intention of those studies. Rather, the studies aimed at questioning some of Chomsky’s claims about language, particularly those that he made in his book “Language and Mind.”

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