wilderthan: ((Books) And shoes)
[personal profile] wilderthan
In my quest to read a bit more non-fiction, I think reading up on Dawkins is a wise choice. He claims to be aiming his books -- or at least this one -- at three audiences: the layman, the expert and the student. Well, I'm somewhere between layman and student, since I have a pretty good level of knowledge about the stuff, but I'm not formally learning it. The Selfish Gene was easy and even enjoyable to read, with things explained in as simple a way as possible, and sometimes formulated in a handful of ways or with several examples, to help expand on his point.

The Selfish Gene has a lot of material in it that was already discussed in similar or identical terms in The Ancestor's Tale, but goes rather more into depth about it. The title is misleading, since Dawkins doesn't actually believe that genes are self-aware. His language isn't all that confusing, once you read past the title, though. He makes it fairly clear when his words should be taken as more metaphorical than accurate.

I found his section on memes pretty interesting -- hadn't known that he'd coined the word. People misinterpret that section, too, suggesting that memes are self-aware and actually want to survive. He suggests something more along the lines of natural selection, making memes actually very similar to genes.

I suppose I'd have to read around more in the field to know how much I agree with Dawkins. For someone with my level of knowledge, he gives a pretty clear and accurate argument -- but then, of course, I don't have the knowledge to dispute him.


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