The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene
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.
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PseudoDarwinism and social atomism
The natural springs of morality
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A. E. Housman accept actually animals become behaviour biologists biology Brian Goodwin called central Christian claim competition complex conﬁdent conﬂicts Conway Morris cosmic course creatures Darwin Dawkins Dawkins's developed egoistic emphasis added Enlightenment evolution evolutionary explain fact feelings ﬁghting ﬁnal ﬁnally ﬁnd ﬁnding ﬁrst ﬁt ﬂows force freedom group selection Herbert Spencer Hobbes Hobbes's human motivation Hume Huxley Ibid idea ignored imagery important individual inﬂuence intellectual intelligence interesting Jerry Fodor Kant kind lives look means mind moral natural selection neo-Darwinism neo-Darwinists Nicholas Humphrey Nietzsche organisms particular philosophers physical Piattelli Palmarini political possible problems psychological R. D. Laing rational reason reductive remarkable sacriﬁce says scientiﬁc seems self-interest Selﬁsh Gene sense simply social atomism social instincts species story strong struggle suggested surely T. H. Huxley theory things Thomas Hobbes thought tion topic tradition trying understand universe various whole