Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea

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"Good, Better, Best,

Never let it rest,

Until the Good is Better

And the Better is Best."

My class was taught this rhyme by my English teacher in school to ensure that we would not forget this exception to the rule of superlatives. However, other teachers also quoted this rhyme when they wanted to motivate my class to reach the zenith of their ability; that is, improve until we were "the best". One of my papers showed how a deeper understanding of natural selection made me cease to think of human beings at the top of the evolutionary Tree of Life, making me remove words like "superior" and "best" from my evolutionary vocabulary. Now I find myself questioning the premises upon which this rhyme rests: What makes something better than something else? What is best? Who sets these standards? Using the Darwinian concept of equality through natural selection, I want to discuss the concept of an equal morality in order to show that such a theory can successfully exist.

Through an understanding of natural selection, I have come to accept that all creatures currently in existence are equal. However, for the purposes of this paper, I am limiting my question to the relevance of equality for human beings. I am narrowing my categories because morality is a human created concept couched in language, the use of which differentiates humans from other organisms. Dennett claims:

"Whereas animals are rigidly controlled by their biology, human behavior is largely determined by culture, a largely autonomous system of symbols and values, growing from a biological base, but growing indefinitely away from it. Able to overpower or escape biological constraints in most regards, cultures can vary from one another enough so that important portion...

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...per discusses the effect on society of the snatching away of a comfortable blanket moral code. However, I too base my arguments on the "truth" of premises such as Darwin's theory of natural selection. I would like to protect myself from the above contradiction within Dennett's text by saying that this account is simply my story and my perception of morality. I am open to the telling of different stories; however, I ask that the story teller respect my story in the same way that I do theirs.

1 "Moral, n 1" Dicionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, 2003


2 "Ought 2" Dicionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, 2003


Works Cited:

1. Dennett, Daniel. Darwin's Dangerous Idea. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

2. Dicionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, 2003

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