Re: virus: Random Chance

Kevin M O'Connor (
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 17:58:58 EST

On Tue, 29 Oct 1996 12:08:29 -0600 JPS <>
>I'm just writing to express a concern I have when reading through
>the literature.... people seem to use phrases like "genes want" or
>"ideas want"... Perhaps this is a "language of convenience", as
>Dawkins says, but it is a misleading language. Dawkins himself
>wrote a vastly popular popularization, but I think he may have
>messed up by 'personifying' genes.

You are objecting to the use of the "intentional stance" with respect to
things which you quite rightly take to be unconscious entities. Daniel
Dennett's new book "Kinds of Minds" is largely devoted to defending the
use of this kind of language. The book was written for the Science
Masters series, and like the other books in that series is is under 200
pages and very accessible. I highly recommend it. I had planned to
write a review of it. Perhaps your criticism of our use of the
intentional stance with respect to memes and genes will light the
necessary fire under my butt to get me moving on that project, but not
today. Today I'm going to go find a Holloween costume.

Take care, all. -KMO