Postmodernism and truth
By Daniel Dennett
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While I am no fan of postmodern relativism and find the periodization
question of the postmodern ambiguous if not false (cf. my <A HREF=""></A>  I am surprised constantly by the way the
one clear case of social constructivist thinking, selectionist Darwinism,
goes unnoticed, uncritiqued, theoretically unbudgeable, beyond criticism, the
'official' science corner stone of an incorrect and reductionist view of man,
socially constructed as a Whiggest theory in the generation after Malthus and
the rabid Red 'evolutionists' of the Reform Bill generation. Malthus if you
recall tried to show scientifically that there was no point i feeding the
starving. The only way to get away with that was to make it  a scientific

That selectionist theory in its extreme forms is constructivist can be seen
very simply from the simple fact that noone was presTent at the evolution of
man. That makes any theory partly constructivist. That should _at least_ make
dissent or disagreement a true scientific option. Nope, the only way to get
away with it is to make it a scientific finding.

Thus we have the most monumentally obsessive dogmatic finally hatemongering
propagandistic suppressive paradigm rigidity imaginable, extending to all
academic/scientific bodies, and defended by an army of ill-educated idiots,
to say nothing of trained philosophers.  Stone cold and out of it, would be
the best description.
It is small wonder postmoderns arise. This theory is dangerous, yet is
routinely reprogrammed due to its economic ideological usefulness among
It also is foxhole behavior in a secular context, against Creationism. But if
any theory fed its own opposition it is Darwin's.

The comparison of Darwin's theory to economic ideology has been pointed to a
thousand times, but it doesn't sink in. In fact, it is actually so flaunted,
even by leftists such as Gould and such who seem oblivious to the core
ideological construct here. It is not true that the evolution of man is like
economic self-organization. I have no illusions about the partial usefulness
of this 'theory'.  So skip the usual boilerplate.
It is interesting that many know there is a problem here, which shows the
dangers of the cultural isolation of science in the West.
Even Buddhists, who certainly know better, are in some circles now getting
their arms twisted, and I see a strain like Susan Blackmore's work trying to
muscle in on this with a Darwinian version a la memes and Dawkins. Give me a
break already, please.

I am not a Buddhist, but take the issue of reincarnation. Already in the time
of Buddha the nonsense level was rising, and I think Buddha invoked his
Anatta or No Self doctrine to bypass that. But he never, contra these Darwin
defender Buddhists now trying to seize public opinion, denies the 'round of
rebirths'. Whatever that means, and no opinion on the subject is required for
Buddhist practice.

His attempt to bypass confusion with something practical then was acute as to
the metaphysical traps here. But the plain fact is that millennia of men of
this species have confirmed reconfirmed and reconfirmed again something like
'reincarnation', subject to the immediate confusion of terms here.
Now these people wish to use this Anatta principle to rig Buddhism for a
positivist view of things. Since we are on to constructivism, keep your eye
peeled here.

I can't offer proof here on anything, but I certainly wouldn't take a theory
as junky as Darwin's as some proof, the more so as the Buddhist version of
soul was not even transcendental, this was Samkhya materialist 'soul'. It is
pure social construction.

The point: get out your social construction notepad and paradigm red alert
meter and take notes on the current social construction of Darwinian
Buddhism, then do a tape rewind on the nineteenth century and see what you
come up with.

So I sympathize with Dennett's problem here, but in another way he is missing
the point completely.

So we have a problem here, although I agree postmodernism is a mistake. (Why,
some of their literature is very good)
But all these traditionalists are looking on in embarrassment here. In future
please refrain from trying to impose nineteenth century positivism on the
whole planet with stupid theories of evolution. We could lose the bill of
rights to a bunch of truly Post- modern fanatics who won't take it lying down

Secular culture is at risk here. Open the window. The postmodern confusion
arises because people sense that something is too far gone for change. I
don't agree, nor do I reject secular culture. But this stupidity has gone on
long enough. And I have no interest (save dialectical) in fighting to the
last man for Darwin's theory in the face of three thousand years of
Check you debugger. You must have gone wrong somewhere.

Darwin's theory is a useful research paradigm, almost certainly limited and
incomplete, and poorly equipped to explain the descent of man for just this
kind of reason that Wallace finally understood. But don't be fooled for a
minute into thinking it can produce a definition of man.

John Landon
Website for
World History and the Eonic Effect