Beethoven’s error

The focus on the process of natural selection started in the ’70s with Dawkins, who popularized the view that selection occurred at the level of the gene. This took us to the bare minimum and everyone focused all the attention on the selection process. But if you do that, you forget about the beautiful things that the process can produce. People like Dawkins focused their whole mind on the nastiness of the selection process. And they were intent on providing shock therapy on people in the social sciences and philosophy. And when the social scientists would say, “But sometimes people are kind to each other,” they would reply, “No, no, that’s all made up, they’re faking that. There has to be some sort of selfish ulterior motive behind it.” And so I called this type of error the “Beethoven error” because Beethoven produced his most beautiful music under the most atrocious circumstances (his Vienna apartment was described as disorganized and incredibly dirty). And that’s true for a lot of process/outcome errors.

Frans de Waal, interviewed

[x]#3150 fan zondag 4 november 2007 @ 21:49:44

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