This report is an extended interview with Mary Midgley.
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Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, as outlined in his seminal work On the Origin of Species, remains controversial today despite almost universal acceptance in scientific circles.
Mary Midgley, one of the UK’s most respected philosophers, has written widely on the uses and abuses of Darwinism to promote and
defend a range of philosophical standpoints.
In this wide–ranging interview, she discusses the theory as it was received in its own time, and some of the issues surrounding it today.
Midgley considers the status of science in Darwin’s day, and the background to and reception of his theory, before moving on to assess the philosophies, such as Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism, with which it has become associated.
She suggests that many of those who reject Darwinian evolution today do so not because of its scientific merit or otherwise, but because of a perception of its nihilistic, brutalist implications. These implications, she argues, are entirely unnecessary, and indeed were anathema to Darwin himself.
Insightful and thought–provoking, Discussing Darwin forms a valuable addition to the wealth of literature on the topic, and is a worthy complement to the other reports in this series.