The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene

Front Cover
Acumen, 2010 - Philosophy - 154 pages
2 Reviews
Renowned philosopher Mary Midgley explores the nature of our moral constitution to challenge the view that reduces human motivation to self-interest. Midgley argues cogently and convincingly that simple, one-sided accounts of human motives, such as the 'selfish gene' tendency in recent neo-Darwinian thought, may be illuminating but are always unrealistic. Such neatness, she shows, cannot be imposed on human psychology. She returns to Darwin's original writings to show how the reductive individualism which is now presented as Darwinism does not derive from Darwin but from a wider, Hobbesian tradition in Enlightenment thinking. She reveals the selfish gene hypothesis as a cultural accretion that is just not seen in nature. Heroic independence is not a realistic aim for Homo sapiens. We are, as Darwin saw, earthly organisms, framed to interact constantly with one another and with the complex ecosystems of which we are a tiny part. For us, bonds are not just restraints but also lifelines.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene

User Review  - Eric Kalnins - Goodreads

Disappointing book as Midgley spends to much time slating Richard Dawkins in a rather boorish personal way rather than offering arguments she believed she possessed. Chapter 5 and 6 were a little more ... Read full review

Review: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene

User Review  - Ed - Goodreads

I loved this polemic against the excessive individualism and competition based model of recent Darwinianism, that was very far from what Darwin had in mind. It is also increasingly undermined by ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
PseudoDarwinism and social atomism
15
The natural springs of morality
55
Copyright

2 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Mary Midgley is one of the most respected moral philosophers of her generation and the author of many books, including Beast and Man, Wickedness and The Myths We Live by. Her memoir, The Owl of Minerva, was published by Routledge in 2005. She celebrated her 90th birthday in 2009.

Bibliographic information