NONZERO  THE LOGIC OF HUMAN DESTINY  By  ROBERT WRIGHT

 

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§    Introduction

PART I: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND

§                           1. The Ladder of Cultural Evolution

§                           2. The Way We Were

§                           3. Add Technology and Bake for Five Millennia

§                           4. The Invisible Brain

§                           5. War: What Is It Good For? 

§                           6. The Inevitability of Agriculture 

§                           7. The Age of Chiefdoms

§                           8. The Second Information Revolution

§                           9. Civilization and So On

§                           10. Our Friends the Barbarians 

§                           11. Dark Ages

§                           12. The Inscrutable Orient

§                           13. Modern Times

§                           14. And Here We Are

§                           15. New World Order

§                           16. Degrees of Freedom

PART II: A BRIEF HISTORY OF ORGANIC LIFE

§                          17. The Cosmic Context

§                          18. The Rise of Biological Non-zero-sumness

§                          19. Why Life Is So Complex

§                          20. The Last Adaptation

PART III: FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

§                          21. Non-crazy Questions

§                          22. You Call This a God?

 

§                          Appendix I: On Non-zero-sumness

§                          Appendix II: What Is Social Complexity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from e-mail from Daniel Dennett to Robert Wright Oct 7, 2004.

 

Lines from Wright’s earlier e-mail to Dennett preceded by >

 

 

[SNIP]

 

>Dan:

> 

>In your most recent e-mail you write:

> 

>”Yes, there are similarities, but so what?  They aren't the similarites

>that would be evidence for your purpose claim.”

> 

>Actually, in the closing question (the one to which you fatefully answered

>"Yeah, I guess, Yeah, yeah") I specified one type of similarity that would

>be evidence of purpose, and since you answered the question affirmatively,

>that is the type of similarity in question. And it is: "directional movement

>toward functionality."

> 

>Here's the question verbatim: 

> 

>bob: "So, I'm just saying that to the extent-I think we've agreed that

>observing, what is it, I guess ontogeny is the term, you know, the

>development of an organism, that it has its directional movement toward

>functionality by design,

> 

 

NOTE WHAT YOUR VERBATIM QUOTE SAYS:  'directional movement toward

functionality by design"

What are those last two words doing for you?  Distinguishing it from

'directional movement toward functioanality but not by design"

right?

 

>and that's in fact a hallmark of design, would you

>agree that to the extent that evolution on this planet turned out to have

>comparable properties, that would work at least to some extent in favor of

>the hypothesis of design-to some extent, to any extent."

> 

>Dan, surely you don't think that here "comparable properties" can refer to

>anything other than "directional movement toward functionality," right? (If

>it referred to "directional movement toward functionality *by* *design*,"

>that would render the subsequent clause nonsensical and the whole question

>so absurdly circular that you'd be ashamed of having answered it at all! [Note: I (Wright) had inferred from an earlier e-mail that Dennett might be making this misinterpretation, which is why I addressed it pre-emptively in this e-mail.])

> 

> 

No. This is just the issue. Ontogeny is itself a designed process.

natural selection is not.  And yet, natural selection does yield

'directional movement toward functionality"   You've got to remember

that I insist again and again that in order to understand these

phenomena we have to abandon  the old essentialist viewpoint that gives

us a  Prime Mammal. or (in this context) the Prime Designed Process. 

Evolution, an ultimately purposeless process, gives rise to subprocesses

and other phenomena that exhibit more and more functionality, more and

more design.   That absolutely does NOT imply purpose in the basic

process. That's the whole point.  Why would I abandon that, when it's

the heart of all my arguments?  The mistake you are making is a sort of

part/whole fallacy. From the fact that some of the fruits of the tree of

life exhibit design, you cannot infer that the whole tree does. That IS

Darwin's dangerous idea. He showed us how to make that  case.

 

[SNIP]