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FW: 11/9/2000 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: daily@chronicle.com [mailto:daily@chronicle.com] Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2000 5:00 AM To: daily@chronicle.com Subject: 11/9/2000 Daily Report
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2000
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      FW: 11/9/2000 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

      -----Original Message-----
      From: daily@... [mailto:daily@...]
      Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2000 5:00 AM
      To: daily@...
      Subject: 11/9/2000 Daily Report from The Chronicle of Higher Education

      ACADEME TODAY: The Chronicle of Higher Education's
      Daily Report for subscribers

      Good day!

      Here are news bulletins from The Chronicle of Higher Education
      for Thursday, November 9.

      *  [snip]


      A glance at the November issue of "Prospect":
      A.S. Byatt on the Darwin wars

      The wars between Darwinians and anti-Darwinians rage on, writes
      A.S. Byatt, a critic and the winner of the 1990 Booker Prize for
      her novel "Possession." Ms. Byatt poses the question of why we
      as human beings are drawn to the nature of our origins, and
      examines the heated debate that has ensued. "Someone trained as
      a literary reader and writer, reading the polemic on both sides,
      might come to the conclusion that the passions are aroused by
      almost instinctive anxieties about individual freedom and
      autonomy." According to Ms. Byatt, both sides approach the issue
      with too much zealotry and "have a tendency... to caricature
      each other's positions, to create pasteboard demon masks, to
      burn each other in effigy." Ms. Byatt says that "the
      anti-Darwinians spend much of their time asserting that the
      Darwinians think things they do not think, and have designs on
      our society they do not have." The anti-Darwinians, meanwhile,
      "are incensed by the metaphors of the Darwinians ... [who] have
      a tendency to think of biological processes and organisms in
      terms on man-made objects." Ms. Byatt maintains that "we need a
      discourse that eschews metaphor and rhetorical flourishes if we
      are to think out a clear, post-religious, ethically adequate
      description of our human state." She adds that "the Darwin wars
      are also about the possibility and desirability, and perhaps the
      inevitability, of belief systems." Ms. Byatt rejects simplistic
      explanations for the existence of religion -- that "human beings
      cannot accept their own mortality, or more subtly, that human
      beings cannot assume their own independence and need father
      figures and authority" -- because she believes that they do not
      account for more-complex aspects of ethics, such as generosity,
      sacrifice, or respect for other species. She herself believes
      "that our best option is a clerkly skepticism, and constantly
      corrected, constantly vigilant scientific curiosity" patterned
      after Darwin himself, whose "huge patient curiosity, his
      checking of facts, his leaps of intuition measured and checked
      and measured, his caution and skepticism, are what remain
      impressive." The article is not available online, but
      information about the magazine can be found at

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