Simplified evolution

September 17, 2004

Where's the God's-eye view to say whether the cosmos has a telos or not? Simon Blackburn's review of Michael Ruse's Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? (Books, August 13) re-runs the Cartesian square wheel of primary over secondary qualities and matter over consciousness.

It speaks of evolution as being "guided" in an "adaptively positive direction", yet of a story without "metaphor or value". We are kidding ourselves if we say evolution mainly occurs at the level of genes and not as an interaction of biology, the whole organism and environment, and (for humans) culture. The differences, similarities and effects of "variation from" and "adaptation to" must be weighed versus something.

David Rodway
London

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