Bill asked me to introduce myself, and to describe an idea that came to me recently.
I am a graduate student, working on philosophy of biology (at a university that shall remain nameless), nearing the dissertation stage.
I am sure that everyone knows about the odious “Darwin Awards.” I have been concerned about this phenomenon for some time, because they seem to be catching on with the broader public. I encounter references to them increasingly frequently among the mostly liberal crowd I hang out with. I guess this is not too surprising, as their cynicism is certainly in tune with the times and the culture.
I even had a public school teacher of my acquaintance tell me recently about a child who fell off a cliff on a school outing. She was laughing about this incident and saying that the little boy should get a Darwin Award!
Well, I had a light bulb go off recently about how to fight fire with fire—satire with satire.
I was reading a book called Clockwork Garden, by Roger J. Farber (Amherst: UMass Pr, 1986). The book contains the following startling image (the passage pertains to the author’s critique of selectionism as a basis for reductionism of teleology to mechanism; in particular, he is distinguishing true selection—which is intentional—from mere sorting), on page 16:
“Consider a swimming coach who selects her team by throwing the entire freshman class into the pool and signing up those who float.”
When I read this passage, I suddenly had this vision of a cartoon depicting this situation—as an illustration of the tender mercies of the Darwinian philosophy.
The thing is, people laugh at the Darwin Awards because they feel superior to the people being ridiculed by the awards. But perhaps, through a more subtle (and more accurate) form of satire, they could be brought to see that the human form of life stands in dedicated opposition to the “natural”, especially as conceived of in Darwinian terms.
So, what do you all think? Worthy of a T-shirt? A regular comic strip? With a little imagination, the permutations on the theme are endless . . .