Course Name: Darwin (& Wallace's) Dangerous Idea
Instructor: James Wagner
The name of this class is a variation of a title of a book by the philosopher Daniel Dennett who likens Darwin's idea of evolution to that of a Universal Acid. A universal acid is a make-believe liquid that is so corrosive it easily burns through any type of container - metal, glass, or stone - as if it were paper. Dennett suggests that the idea of evolution, like a universal acid, was unstoppable and permeated into all fields of study once it was formalized by Darwin and Wallace. In this class we are going to explore how the idea of evolution has changed the way we think about society, politics, economics, morality, art, literature, religion, and our health. You do not have to be a science major to take this class, just a person who is interested in learning the basic idea of evolution by natural selection and exploring how this idea has shaped our modern world.
We will read a variety of texts from a diverse array of disciplines and explore (not necessarily answer!) questions like:
· Can evolution explain our love for french fries and cola?
· If evolution is true, are humans evolving now?
· Are people inherently 'good'?
· Why does 'Sex" sell?
· What is beauty?
· Does the idea of evolution ('survival of the fittest') promote atheism and immorality?
· Can our political views be an evolved genetic trait?