Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Anthropic Principle: the justification of the observability of the universe by properties that correspond to the observer. In this form, the principle is not about the existence of the universe and the observer, but about necessary properties.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Stephen Jay Gould on Anthropic Principle - Dictionary of Arguments

IV 314
Anthropic Principle/Gould: (Physicist Freeman Dyson took this term from an opponent): Dyson: "I don't feel like a stranger in this universe; I find more and more evidence that the universe somehow must have known we were coming".(1)
Only evidence: some laws of nature that would have prevented life if the initial conditions had been a little different.
Example Dyson: "Suppose the distances of the galaxies were 10 times smaller (than an average of 32 trillion km), then it would be very likely that in the 3.5 billion years at least one celestial body would have come so close that it would have directed the Earth out of orbit around the Sun and destroyed all life."(2)
Dyson: "The special harmony between the structure of the universe and the
needs of life and intelligence is a manifestation of the meaning of the mind in the scheme of things".(3)
IV 315
GouldVsAnthropic principle: that is an argument that has already been moth-eaten. Central error: results from the nature of history: Every complex historical event represents a summation of improbabilities and thus becomes absolutely improbable itself. But something must always happen, even if a certain "something" amazes us by its improbability. We could look at any event and say, "Isn't that amazing?"
For example, let us assume that the universe consists of little more than diprotons. Would that be bad? Would we have to conclude that some God looked or loved like coupled hydrogen nuclei, or that no God or Spirit existed at all?
But if there is a God, why does he have to prefer a cosmos that creates a life like ours? Why shouldn't diprotons be witnesses of a pre-existent intelligence, even if no chronicler could be found?
Does all intelligence have to have an uncontrollable urge to embody itself in a universe of its choice?

1. F. Dyson,. (1979). Disturbing the universe. New York: Harper and Row.
2. F. Dyson, ibid.
3. F. Dyson, ibid.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gould I
Stephen Jay Gould
The Panda’s Thumb. More Reflections in Natural History, New York 1980
German Edition:
Der Daumen des Panda Frankfurt 2009

Gould II
Stephen Jay Gould
Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes. Further Reflections in Natural History, New York 1983
German Edition:
Wie das Zebra zu seinen Streifen kommt Frankfurt 1991

Gould III
Stephen Jay Gould
Full House. The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, New York 1996
German Edition:
Illusion Fortschritt Frankfurt 2004

Gould IV
Stephen Jay Gould
The Flamingo’s Smile. Reflections in Natural History, New York 1985
German Edition:
Das Lächeln des Flamingos Basel 1989

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-03-07
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