The Nation, October 8, 2007

See the post below for an explanation of what I’m doing.

The cover story is a love letter to Keith Olbermann by Marvin Kitman; several pieces deal with the likely impact of the Iraq war on the 2008 elections.  Alexander Cockburn’s column starts with the arresting sentence “I never thought there’d come a time when, even for a moment, I’d trust Fidel Castro less than a former chairman of the Federal Reserve.” 

The best pieces are in the book reviews.  Ian Hacking considers several books about America’s anti-Darwin movement.  He expounds on Imre Lakatos’ theory of science.  According to that philosopher, Hacking writes, the proper “unit of valuation [in science] was the research program rather than the theory.  A rational program is, he said, ‘progressive’ in that it constantly reacts to counterexamples and difficulties by producing new theories that overcome old hurdles.  When challenged it does not withdraw into some same corner but explains new difficulties with an even riskier, richer, and bolder story about nature.”  Hacking favors Darwinism over fundamentalism not because it is the cut-and-dried, incontrovertible truth that a writer like Richard Dawkins would suggest, but precisely because it is confusing, superficially improbable, full of uncertainty.  Hacking even closes with a feint towards a new kind of argument from design, appealing to Leibniz’ description of a God whose plan calls for combining “the maximum of variety with the minimum of complexity for its fundamental laws” and arguing that a God like that  “would have to be a ‘neo-Darwinian’ who achieves the extraordinary variety of living things by chance.”

J. Hoberman reviews a new study of the Communist-inspired American literature of the World War II era, bringing up some interesting-sounding novels, such as Jews without Money by Mike Gold, I Went to Pit College by Lauren Gilfillan, and The Street by Ann Petry.

http://www.thenation.com/

Advertisements
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: