September 23rd, 2009
Mary Midgley was born on September 13, 1919 and was the Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University. Despite publishing her first book at the age of 59, she has a fearsome reputation in the Philosophical community. Her work has largely focussed on science; attacking the pretensions of ‘scientism‘, and arguing in favour of scientific pluralism; that we must recognise “that there are many independent forms and sources of knowledge” (Myths We Live By, pp 26-7).
Famously, she and Richard Dawkins have had a thirty-year disagreement. Midgley argues that Dawkins goes beyond the scientific to sell “the worship of competition”; that he projects Thatcherite free-market economic beliefs into his theoris of evolutionary biology; a charge which Dawkins disputes!
In May 2009, my dad Alan McEachran, who has taught Philosophy and Sociology all of his professional life, gave a talk about the work of Mary Midgley to the Erasmus Darwin Society in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The prepared text for this talk follows:
This is the second talk that he has given to the Erasmus Darwin Society. His discussion of John Gray is also available from this website.