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Series: Mary Midgley and Ethics

Mary Midgley: Evolutionary Origins of Genuine Humanness?

Mary Midgley: Evolutionary Origins of Genuine Humanness?

Reading Mary Midgley has produced rather a shock to my system. My prior exposure to non-theistic thinking on evolution, ethics, human freedom, and meaning has been dominated by reductionists like Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. Midgley’s approach, by comparison, is practically heretical among evolutionists who do not believe in God: she actually takes humans seriously for what we know we are. Nick Matzke recommended her 1994 book The Ethical Primate to me a few weeks ago, and I just finished…

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Mary Midgley’s Near-Answer To My Lifelong Question

Mary Midgley’s Near-Answer To My Lifelong Question

I was not a believer in Jesus Christ when I left home for college in 1974. My brother and I had both been very interested in the occult, and around that time I must have read dozens of books by people like Ruth Montgomery and Jeanne Dixon, purveyors of belief in psychic phenomena. My recent church experience had not been at all good, and I didn’t know of any reason to believe in Jesus Christ. I had no real beliefs…

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Mary Midgley’s Moral System: Not The Answer I Was Looking For

Mary Midgley’s Moral System: Not The Answer I Was Looking For

In my previous posts on Mary Midgley’s view of morality, I noted my appreciation for her unwillingness to accept reductionist explanations (especially for human experience), and her nearly answering a lifelong question of mine: is there really no way to ground a solid sense of morality apart from God? At the end of each post I wrote that there was nevertheless something lacking. As I put it most recently, Thankfully, what is lacking is not interest, for as I said,…

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