i'm reading the chapters to catch up. lol.
i've noticed the drop off in interest too. seems like a bazillion people joined the group and were excited and now no one really discusses the chapters. what gives guys??? :P
I actually read the book a year or so back and then gave it away. Personally, I can't remember what chapters 6 or 7 were specifically about or I would join in. I'm waiting for a group read of a book I haven' read yet. :D
The chapters are long so I think everyone (4 of us?) is trying to catch up. I think we might have to go out and get some "religious" perspective since we're all in such agreement on most of this stuff. I was pretty fascinated with Ch 5 on the roots of religion but Ch 6 is kind of sluggish in discussing the roots of morality - like I said, this is thoroughly chewed up and digested material. I do have some Facebook friends that are pretty hardcore believers so I might try and get their input on the next chapter - if they will agree to the abuse.
We're still waiting for your input here Sniz - I'm sure you have an opinion. You are reading the book, right?
I might suggest that we find the Cliff notes version of this book and send it to the other 160 members, it might be a little more readable - or not. This really is a great book so I would think there would be feedback if it were being read.
Doing a fast catch up on TGD now. just finished 6 and 7. The most interesting part for me was where he explained altruism and the four possible reasons why selection favours altruism.
"Natural selection favours genes that predispose individuals, in relationships of asymmetric need and opportunity, to give when they can, and to solicit giving when they can't. It also favours tendencies to remember obligations, bear grudges, police exchange relationships and punish cheats who take, but don't give when their turn comes."
Does this imply that children know right from wrong when they are born? Do they know that sharing is good and reneging on deals is bad without being told so by their parents? Is PZ wrong when he says "no genetic basis for a moral code except, perhaps, in the broadest sense of intrinsic rewards for social behavior"?
Is Dawkins saying rule of thumb moral laws are already proscribed by our genes, or is he saying that we are merely programmed to be receptive to social pressures.
Also many cognitive scientists today are saying that reason has deceptively little to do with our moral decisions and most of the time we act on emotional cues. Are these emotional cues indoctrinated into us by the environment? Or is it innate?
both Dawkins and PZ are correct. they're talking about two different things.
notice that what Dawkins says that natural selection favors genes that predispose... it's not a guarantee. some people are born and those genes are short circuited in whatever way and they can't feel empathy, they don't differentiate between right and wrong behaviors. note also that all the genes do is predispose a person to the basis for morality, to give when they can, and to solicit giving when they can't. It also favours tendencies to remember obligations, bear grudges, police exchange relationships and punish cheats who take, but don't give when their turn comes. even this, if i child is not properly socialized and cared for may not develop.
so PZ is correct too. PZ is talking about no genetic basis for a moral code. look at the context in which he makes the statement. he's refuting a bishop who says that we have an inbuilt code of right and wrong- that's not true. the bishop also says we have an inbuilt definition of marriage as one woman, one man- that's not true either.
in these same chapters Dawkins talk about how the moral zeitgeist changes over time. we read what Abraham Lincoln had to say about black people and we're appalled by it because it's wrong in our time but it was perfectly right in his. the point is, we have evolved genetic predispositions for morality but we do not have a genetic moral code . those codes are laid on top of the genetic predisposition foundation to inform our ideas of right and wrong. the structure on top of the foundation is different in different times, in different places, in different societies. Lincoln said some horrible things about black people, some cultures mutilate the genitals of women, people in the bible belt tend toward the idea of a definition of marriage that is one woman, one man; but none of these ideas of what's right and what's wrong is a moral code that's innate in us.
regarding moral decisions, i think the way we understand it now is that those emotional cues come from both within us and from our environment. which one of those we use to inform our decision (more or less for often there's overlap) depends on the moral question. check out this article for some more info.
welcome Bakari! the thread to discuss the next selection, if there is to be one (more on that in a second), is here. please do suggest something!
now for your question: when Sniz started the group she had in mind a chapter or two a week depending on the size of the chapters, and a discussion of the chapter(s) at the end of that week. however, since the initial flurry of people joining the group, suggesting books to read, and voting on the first title, sadly, interest has sort of dropped off. i'd love to rekindle the interest though since i think the group could have some fantastic discussions while teaching us all a great deal both about the subjects the books cover and about each other.
I think a new book would help rekindle interest and discussion. I imagine the problem with the God Delusion was that so many of us had read it before, and probably discussed it before, or else felt that the first few chapters left little to be discussed (my situation). I hesitate to call what I read of the book "simple", but I can't think of a different word, so that one stays for now.