Richard Dawkins: Growing Up in the Universe - The Genesis of Purpose

Bringing his fascinating lecture series Growing Up in the Universe to a close, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins discusses the way in which our brains represent the transcendence of the world. Our perception of the world is not a pure and accurate representation of what's out there; instead, our brains actively create mental simulations and virtual reality models that help us to anticipate and navigate the world around us, and good thing too!

After using various useful and interesting examples, Dawkins speculates on some of the ways the process of evolution through natural selection may have given rise to the evolution of the human brain, showing in the process the very important lesson that the same powers of the human brain (pattern recognition, statistical outcome anticipation, agency attribution, three-dimensional representation of two-dimensional objects, etc.) have a double edge: these very powers also create the possibility (and perhaps the inevitability) of developing self-deluding beliefs.

The promise of enlightenment can only come from the systematic subjection of our experience and beliefs to the tools of critical thinking and proper assessment of evidence. If we take our subjective experience as the only ground for justifying our attitudes about the external world, we're going to be in a lot of trouble...




I'm all about growing up intellectually (not necessarily otherwise), but why the hate against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? :(

On another note, taken seriously, these insights from evolutionary biology could help explain many important facts about the human mind, like why we believe in gods, for instance.
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