Evolutionary psychology

She said it: Philosopher Mary Midgley tells humanists why she isn’t a humanist

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Here. Famed British philosopher Mary Midgley has examined the religious aspect of Darwinism/materialist humanism in some detail, pointing out that denying the reality of the mind leaves it with nothing but empty speculation about what ancestors did as a way of understanding human nature.  She also points out that the era of evolutionary psychology followed hard on the cult of behaviorism – equally stultifying and stultifying for the same reasons. The behaviourist sought to eliminate subjectivity from psychology, which meant eliminating people, which meant …

[Julian] Huxley, in fact, saw clearly – what few of those who now exalt science seem to have noticed – that this exaltation does not make sense unless we somehow enlarge the notion of reality to make room for mind. Doing science is, after all, a mental activity; it can hardly constitute the purpose of a purely physical universe. More widely, of course, Huxley’s whole way of conceiving evolution as purposive is itself profoundly religious. Darwin himself avoided such thoughts, as do most of those who claim to follow him today. Yet people still do often take it for granted that Evolution, like Progress, is directional – an escalator bound to carry us, or at least our descendants, safely on to higher levels.How much of Huxley’s ideas about this remains with us today? What does remain popular is the concentration on the drama of human evolution, which has indeed become an obsession. Anyone who wants to explain some current piece of behaviour now is likely to do it by speculating about the early evolution of our species, even though we have no records of this time and other kinds of explanation often seem more relevant. And behind this emphasis on evolution lies Huxley’s glorification of physical science as the supreme human activity, though without the reasoning that Huxley used to support it.

Richard Dawkins’s accountability group (remember, he is supposed to have sworn off Darwinism as a religion, but is currently backsliding into fanatical religiosity), should come to hear of this. 😉

Midgley contributed an essay to Alas, Poor Darwin, an anthology against evolutionary psychology.
Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology

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