Darwin's original application of natural selection was, of course, to the origin of species. Dennett explores different ways of visualising the "tree of life" and explains the problems involved in defining species (decisions about species status are necessarily retrospective). This is illustrated with an explanation of the often misunderstood "Mitochondrial Eve" phenomena.
At this point Dennett introduces a metaphor which is used throughout the book: "cranes" are devices or "good tricks" that allow design to proceed faster, but which build on existing foundations; "skyhooks" are entirely mysterious, pre-existing hooks in the sky which enable some problem to be solved or some complexity to be created entirely independently of ordinary processes of design. Dennett argues that there is no place at all for skyhooks and that the only bad reductionism is a "greedy" reductionism that tries to do without cranes. (click for full review)
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