Did Daniel Dennett admit that there is a “higher purpose” to life?

Andrew Sullivan thinks that this interview with Daniel Dennett shows Dennett admitting that evolution has a larger purpose (higher than the propagation of genes to succeeding generations, that is). I didn’t see it that way, although I did see Robert Wright talking far more than he was conducting an interview.

Wright: “Is it inconceivable to you that . . . there is some larger purpose unfolding or that natural selection is the product of design? . . . that there was a designer of natural selection . . .”

Dennett: “I can imagine that in some loose sense? I don’t know if that’s a coherent idea, but it’s not obviously incoherent.”

Wright: “But you certainly don’t buy it, in any sense.”

Dennett: “I don’t buy it.”

Also check out the interviews with Freeman Dyson, John Maynard Smith, Steven Pinker, Robert Pollack, Francis Fukuyama, and others.

UPDATE: Dennett’s sent an email to Sullivan objecting to the characterization. I can’t find it on Sullivan’s website, but here’s a segment.

“Wright misinterprets his own videoclip (I am grateful that it is available uncut on his website, so that everybody can see for themselves). All I agreed to was that IF natural selection had the properties of embryogenesis (or “an organism’s maturation”), it would be evidence for a higher purpose. But I have always insisted that evolution by natural selection LACKS those very properties. And I insisted on that in the earlier portions of the videoclip.”

Sullivan does, however, provide a full link to Wright’s reply. Here’s the link to Wright’s original account of the interview, in which he begins, ” I have some bad news for Dennett’s many atheist devotees. He recently declared that life on earth shows signs of having a higher purpose.”