A simple sketch of how realism became unpopular
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1. 19th century German version:
Origin of knowledge.- Over immense periods of time the intellect produced nothing but errors. A few of these proved to be useful and helped to preserve the species: those who hit upon or inherited these had better luck in their struggle for themselves and their progeny. Such erroneous articles of faith, which were continually inherited. until they became almost part of the basic endowment of the species, include the following: that there are enduring things; that there are equal things; that there are things, substances. bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in itself. It was only very late that such propositions were denied and doubted; it was only very late that truth emerged-as the weakest form of knowledge. It seemed that one was unable to live with it: our organism was prepared for the opposite; all its higher functions, sense perception and every kind of sensation worked with those basic errors which had been incorporated since time immemorial. Indeed, even in the realm of knowledge these propositions became the norms according to which "true" and "untrue" were determined—down to the most remote regions of logic. Thus the strength of knowledge does not depend on its degree of truth but on its age, on the degree to which it has been incorporated. on its character as a condition of life.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
2. 21st century evolutionary theory version:
The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions — mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.
-- Donald Hoffman
Today, I think "evolutionary debunking arguments" against realism is fashionable for anti-realists. If Daniel Dennet is right about Darwin, ("If Nietzsche is the father of existentialism, then perhaps Darwin deserves the title of grandfather.") then Darwin is really important figure in the history of anti-realism.