Re: BOOKS: Options for discussion

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2001 - 03:16:08 MST

At 11:29 PM 11/4/01 -0800, Robert wrote:

>The Lucifer Principle : A Scientific Expedition into the Forces
>of History by Howard K. Bloom

Well, this might be a tad harsh, but in THE LAST MORTAL GENERATION I


The flesh is notoriously weaker than the spirit, and even the spirit has
its own ways of going lethally haywire. Take a look at Bosnia or central
Africa. Psychoanalysis and the arts are eager to tell us about mixed or
hidden motives, most of them sexual one way or another. Evolutionary
psychology and medicine, though, are starting to show us how to track down
why and how these apparent aberrations are structured into life. These are
hard doctrines to accept, however brilliantly apt their explanations. Their
cynicism is extreme. Nothing sacred is left without its base account.

        Ape and essence

At the extreme, we end up with a sort of vulgar gnosticism, embraced
recently by a former celebrity PR man turned would-be guru, Howard Bloom:
`The nature scientists uncover has crafted our viler impulses into us; in
fact, these impulses are a part of the process she uses to create. Lucifer
is the dark side of cosmic fecundity, the cutting blade of the sculptor's
knife. Nature does not abhor evil; she embraces it. She uses it to build.'
Oddly, even Bloom's defective version is less cynical than the mainstream
varieties deployed by Dawkins, Dennett, Robert Wright, Nesse and Williams.
These evolutionists stand by the individual, not the group, as nature's key.


The relevance of the last comment is that Bloom is an unashamed group
selectionist. Granted, there's a small place these days in evolutionary
theory for group selection, but not as much as Bloom would have us believe.

Damien Broderick

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