David Haig on the Evolution of Meaning from Darwin to Derrida

Aristotle conceived of the world in terms of teleological “final causes”; Darwin, or so the story goes, erased purpose and meaning from the world, replacing them with a bloodless scientific algorithm. But should we abandon all talk of meanings and purposes, or instead conceptualize them as emergent rather than fundamental? Philosophers (and former Mindscape guests) Alex Rosenberg and Daniel Dennett recently had an exchange on just this subject, and today we’re going to hear from a working scientist. David Haig is a geneticist and evolutionary biologist who argues that it’s perfectly sensible to perceive meaning as arising through the course of evolution, even if evolution itself is purposeless.
...David Haig, who is a professor at Harvard of organismic and evolutionary biology. He’s a theorist, and so he thinks widely about many, many things, and he has a new book out called From Darwin to Derrida: Selfish Genes, Social Cells and the Meanings of Life. And I’m not going to give away too much. We’ll talk about it on the podcast, but the basic idea is exactly this, to sort of figure out how purposes can evolve despite the fact that evolution is not forward-looking. To be very honest, I have a difficult time translating or sort of saying what he says because it’s actually very similar to things that I say in my own book, The Big Picture, and so I end up putting my words into his mouth, which is not fair, so you should listen to what David has to say.