A letter to the man behind the theory
A letter to the father of evolution. Amazingly, he's still controversial.
When Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos recently appeared, Steven Pinker took to Twitter and haughtily ruled that it was “the shoddy reasoning of a once-great thinker.” Fuck him, he explained.
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. Why Lyrics Last: Evolution, Cognition, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets By Brian Boyd (Harvard University Press, 227 pp., $25.95) Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind By Mark Pagel (W.W. Norton, 416 pp., $29.95) The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present By Eric R.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think By Brian Wansink (Bantam, 276 pp., $25) The idea of "the survival of the fittest" is one of the most powerful organizing principles in all of science. That simple idea, stated by Herbert Spencer on the basis of Charles Darwin's work and later endorsed by Darwin himself, captures the theory of evolution, the process of natural selection, and a host of associated notions. And yet the phrase can produce confusion.
T'HE LOGIC behind the sexual revolution seemed compelling at the time: (1) Sex is fun; (2) Lots of sex will be lots of fun. But there must have been a flaw in the argument somewhere, because just about everyone seems to agree that sexual liberation has brought as much pain as joy, and that its present demise is not something to mourn. Maybe the weak link was the underlying assumption that males and females aren't very different when it comes to sex, love, and romance.