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Darwin's Strange Inversion of Reasoning

The great inversion of Darwin, what McKenzie calls his strange inversion of reasoning, was when Darwin realized that you have a bottom-up theory of creativity, that all the wonderful design that we see in the biosphere could be the products, direct or indirect of a mindless, purposeless process, and this simply inverts an idea that I think is as old as our species, maybe older in a certain sense, and that is what you might call the top-down theory of creativity: it takes a big fancy thing to make a less fancy thing. Potters make pots. You never see a pot making a potter. You never see a horseshoe making a blacksmith. It is always big fancy, wise, wonderful things making lesser things. And so, here we are, we are pretty wonderful: we must be made by something more wonderful still and it's got to be like us, it's got to be the intelligent artificer. It's very scarey for people to give that up, and to begin to think about how our importance doesn't depend on the importance of something still more important. That is, not of that sort. I mean on the one hand I think that a good bumper-sticker recipe for happiness is find something more important than yourself to think about and worry about. There are many such things that we can find to replace the one big important thing which many people think they have, which is God.

Daniel Dennet in this interview by Susan Blackmore  (via The Guardian).

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