I’ve seen a fair amount of buzz about an Opinionator column in the August 5 New York Times, “Anything but human,” by Richard Polt. Polt is a professor and chair of philosophy at Xavier University, specializing in Heidegger and in Continental and Greek philosophy.
Polt’s beef is that, as a human, he resents biologists’ notions that we are simply highly evolved animals, have computers in our heads, and that our ethics can be reduced to changes in our neurons produced by evolution. I’ve put Polt’s quotes in bullet points, and comment about them after each one.
- “I have no beef with entomology or evolution [he’s talking about E. O. Wilson’s own Opinionator column here], but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics. Consider the fact that human action ranges to the extremes. People can perform extraordinary acts of altruism, including kindness toward other…
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