Mental Evolution: A Review of Daniel Dennett's From Bacteria To Bach and Back
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From Bacteria To Bach and Back is an ambitious book that attempts to integrate a theory about the evolution of the human mind with another theory about the evolution of human culture. It is advertised as a defense of memes, but conceptualizes memes more liberally than has been done before. It is also advertised as a defense of the proposal that natural selection operates on culture, but conceptualizes natural selection as a process in which nearly all interesting parameters are free to vary. This liberal conception of key concepts creates space for philosophical innovation, but occasionally makes the empirical content of the theory difficult to pin down. Nevertheless, the book is full of scientific insight, wit, and humor. It will undoubtedly become a cause of both controversy and inspiration for those interested in naturalistic theories of human culture.