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Darwin Loves You

Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World

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Jesus and Darwin do battle on car bumpers across America. Medallions of fish symbolizing Jesus are answered by ones of amphibians stamped "Darwin," and stickers proclaiming "Jesus Loves You" are countered by "Darwin Loves You." The bumper sticker debate might be trivial and the pronouncement that "Darwin Loves You" may seem merely ironic, but George Levine insists that the message contains an unintended truth. In fact, he argues, we can read it straight. Darwin, Levine shows, saw a world from which his theory had banished transcendence as still lovable and enchanted, and we can see it like that too--if we look at his writings and life in a new way.

Although Darwin could find sublimity even in ants or worms, the word "Darwinian" has largely been taken to signify a disenchanted world driven by chance and heartless competition. Countering the pervasive view that the facts of Darwin's world must lead to a disenchanting vision of it, Levine shows that Darwin's ideas and the language of his books offer an alternative form of enchantment, a world rich with meaning and value, and more wonderful and beautiful than ever before. Without minimizing or sentimentalizing the harsh qualities of life governed by natural selection, and without deifying Darwin, Levine makes a moving case for an enchanted secularism--a commitment to the value of the natural world and the human striving to understand it.

Publishers Weekly Review

Sep 25, 2006 – Although the bumper-sticker title seems glib, Levine's book is most assuredly not. It will be a difficult read for nonphilosophers, even though Levine, professor emeritus of English at Rutgers, raises noteworthy points. His main premise is that a close reading of Darwin disproves Max Weber's contention that a "rational scientific" outlook "expels meaning and value from the world." Levine argues persuasively that an understanding of Darwinism can lead to a secular enchantment of the sort experienced by Darwin himself as he worked to make sense of the world around him: "an attitude of awe and love toward the multiple forms of life" in all their extraordinary diversity. Enchantment of this type, Levine explains, is no less important or meaningful than enchantment arising from religion. Levine also offers a textual analysis of Darwin to demonstrate that much writing that claims to derive from Darwin, especially within the realm of politics, does not necessarily follow from his original intent. With polemicists from all portions of the political spectrum attempting to use Darwin to their own advantage, Levine offers a fair warning to readers to be wary of the political extrapolation, because scientific theories themselves have no political content.
Darwin Loves You
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  • $19.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary Criticism
  • Published: Mar 10, 2008
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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