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Darwinian Misadventures in the Humanities


Darwinian Misadventures in the Humanities Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In recent decades the humanities have been in thrall to postmodern skepticism, while Darwinists, brimming with confidence in the genuine progress they have made in the sciences of biology and psychology, have set their sights on rescuing the humanities from the ravages of postmodernism. In this volume, Eugene Goodheart attacks the neo-Darwinist approach to the arts and articulates a powerful defense of humanist criticism. E. O. Wilson, the distinguished Harvard biologist, has spoken of converting philosophy into science, substituting science for religion, and formulating a biological theory of literature and the arts in Consilence: The Unity of Knowledge. Goodheart demonstrates that Wilson's efforts, and those of his colleagues Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Daniel Dennett among others, have resulted in scientism rather than science. If, for example, Dawkins had contented himself in The Selfish Gene with the claim that Darwinism had made worthless other answers to the question of how we have evolved, he would have given offense only to creationists, but questions of meaning and purpose are of another order. Contemporary Darwinist critiques err in assuming that art and traditional criticism aspire to truths that can be codified in terms of scientific laws. If this were so, we would have to regard the speculations of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Rousseau as worthless. Goodheart exposes the philistinism of literary Darwinism, the bad faith and inverted fundamentalism of the Darwinian approach to religion, and the dangers of the effort to create a Darwinian ethical system. Taken together, Goodheart's arguments show that in moving beyond their area of competence, the neo -Darwinists commit an ideology, not a science. Eugene Goodheart, is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. His books include Novel Practices: Classic Modern Fiction, Modernism and the Critical Spirit, The Cult of the Ego, and Confessions of a Secular Jew, all available from Transaction.

Table of Contents

Reducing literature and the arts — Demyistifying religion — Reinventing ethics — Is history a science? — Condescending to science — In defense of dualism.

Product Details

Transaction Publishers
Eugene, Goodheart
Goodheart, Eugene
Literary Criticism : General
World History-General
Social Science : Anthropology - Cultural
Computers : General
Publication Date:
December 2011

Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » General
Education » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution

Darwinian Misadventures in the Humanities
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Product details 136 pages Transaction Pub - English 9781412809023 Reviews:
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