Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think : Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think : Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think : Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think : Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers

Synopsis

With the publication of the international bestseller The Selfish Gene some thirty years ago, Richard Dawkins powerfully captured a newly emerging way of understanding evolution--a gene's eye view. Dawkins went on to publish five more bestselling books, including The Blind Watchmaker and Unweaving the Rainbow. He is one of the most high profile public intellectuals today and any attempt to understand the scientific view of the world must grapple with his ideas.

Now, in this exciting collection of original essays, some of the world's leading thinkers offer their take on how Dawkins has changed the way we think. Readers will find stimulating pieces by Daniel Dennett, the renowned philosopher of mind and author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea; Steven Pinker, the brilliant Harvard linguist who wrote The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate; Matt Ridley, author of the bestselling Genome; and James Watson, who with Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, arguably the greatest scientific discovery of the last century. Dawkins' widely admired literary style forms the subject of several pieces, including one from novelist Philip Pullman (author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy). As one of the world's best known rationalists, Dawkins' stance on religion is another theme in this collection, explored by Simon Blackburn, Michael Ruse, Michael Shermer, and the Bishop of Oxford. Numbering twenty in all, these articles are not simply rosy tributes, but explore how Dawkins' ideas have shaped thinking and public debate, and include elements of criticism as well as thoughtful praise.

Richard Dawkins' work has had the rare distinction of generating as much excitement outside the scientific community as within it. This stimulating volume is a superb summation of the depth and range of his influence.

Excerpt

In 1976, a young Oxford biologist published a book called The Selfish Gene. To Richard Dawkins' own surprise and sometimes alarm, it became widely discussed, often misunderstood, and highly influential. The Selfish Gene is now well established as a classic exposition of evolutionary ideas for academic and lay readers alike. Its author, propelled to fame, went on to display the range and depth of his analytical skills and literary abilities in a string of best-sellers: The Extended Phenotype (intended primarily for fellow biologists), The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and The Ancestor's Tale. A collection of his essays was published as A Devil's Chaplain. Increasingly involved in public debate on science and rationalism, Dawkins has become a familiar figure in the media, and a leading champion of atheism. To find professional scientists with a similar public profile on non-scientific issues, one has to return to the days of J. B. S. Haldane and before him T. H. Huxley in the UK, and perhaps Einstein in the USA. In 1995, Dr Charles Simonyi endowed a chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University that enabled Dawkins, as the first holder, to concentrate on his writing.

This collection of essays considers the range of Dawkins' influence as scientist, writer, and public figure. Inevitably, though, his seminal work, The Selfish Gene, takes pride of place among his achievements and thus forms the primary focus of this volume. The Selfish Gene reached so many audiences that one person is unlikely to know of them all. The essays of the first few sections illustrate the range of the book's influence, with distinguished authors from many fields explaining how its ideas have affected them personally and professionally.

We begin with accounts by four biologists, whose work in parasitology, gender differences, communication, and animal artefacts has been inspired by Dawkins. The second section focuses on the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.