I have been puzzling through some of Lawrence Auster’s many attacks on Darwinism:
& it strikes me that his real beef is not with Darwinism per se, but with something much larger: i.e., the reigning naturalistic consensus in modern science and philosophy, kick-started several centuries ago by guys like Descartes & Hobbes & Locke, & still ruling the roost today, according to which Aristotle & Aquinas were wrong: ends, goals, purposes, meaning – in short, final causes – are not fundamental features of reality, but mere illusions, in need of explanation in mechanistic terms of some sort or other.
Darwin did not create this consensus. He just accepted it, and seemed to many to offer a way to explain the most recalcitrantly meaning-filled & purpose-ridden phenomenon of all – i.e., life – within its terms.
The problem, as Auster points out, over and over again, is that Darwinists constantly help themselves to teleological language – i.e., the language of final causation – while denying that teleology is real. They insist that this language can be “cashed out” in mechanistic terms – but, every time they attempt to do so, they end up using…well, a great big bunch of teleological language in the course of their attempted explanations.
Would it surprise you to learn that I, unrepentant Darwinist that I am, think that he’s got a point? A very, very serious point, which you can find expressed with more philosophical sophistication and less rhetorical overkill in the writings of Edward Feser?
But, before I continue, I’d like to ask: have I characterized Auster’s views fairly? I think it’s possible that there may be a bit of overlap between our readership and his, so I want to ask that before I continue.
It’s so hard to be fair to people with whom you deeply disagree. And it’s so important to try.