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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super intelligence or super accident
A very clearly written book which I think quite rightly pointed out to the Mr. Dawkins of this world (he and those who so heavily criticise Midgley) who seem to need to present us with irrefutable truths, presumably something to do with their own personal positions, that we have no complete or final answers to the major and exceedingly complex questions about the origins...
Published 7 months ago by Maggie Goren

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25 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Learning nothing and forgetting nothing
Like the Bourbons, Mary Midgley appears to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing since her review of Richard Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene' in the journal 'Philosophy', 54, 1979. There is no logical link whatever between evolutionary biology/ psychology and what Bishop Butler called 'the selfish theory of human nature' to be found (he claimed) in Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes...
Published on 23 Dec. 2010 by Dr. G. L. Thomas


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super intelligence or super accident, 18 Oct. 2014
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Maggie Goren "Magpie" (Near Banbury, Oxon. UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics) (Paperback)
A very clearly written book which I think quite rightly pointed out to the Mr. Dawkins of this world (he and those who so heavily criticise Midgley) who seem to need to present us with irrefutable truths, presumably something to do with their own personal positions, that we have no complete or final answers to the major and exceedingly complex questions about the origins and survival of life. She pointed out that Darwin had been misrepresented in Dawkins' book, being an unjustifiable peg on which to hang the 'selfish gene' hat, ignoring that in all Darwin's investigations he himself recognised that his discoveries were only part of the answer, not the whole of it.
I would point Midgley's critics to the exceedingly exciting BBC physics documentary, 2013/2014, about the world's ultra experiment at Cern in the hunt for the Higgs Boson 'X factor' life particle. It both succeeded and failed, showing that either of the two theories, super-synchronicity or chaos, could be correct. Super intelligence or super accident, take your pick after the hadron collider experiment 'succeeded' in 2013. What the programme did, I think, was to uphold the basic premise of Mary Midgley's book that in our innate enthusiasm to find those particular truths for which we search about life on earth, we are usually exceeding the limits of our own understanding.

Wherever people stand that suits them on the subject of life's origins should be respected, at least in the way we might respect Mr Dawkins for his undoubted intellectual efforts to scientifically uncover the truth. But beyond that a little humility and a recognition that the questions remain out there, and may do eternally, goes a long way. The search however is the thing as seen by me to be shown in this excellent book 'The Solitary Self'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midgley is on form here: she doesn't really go ..., 15 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics) (Paperback)
Midgley is on form here: she doesn't really go beyond ideas she has already developed, but at her age she can be forgiven for consolidating her views rather than advancing new ones, and her views do need to be listened to.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Critique, 3 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics) (Paperback)
Mary Midgley exposes the weaknesses and fallacies in Dawkins' and Dennett's thinking, but from a Darwinian philosophical perspective. This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in reading a critique of the fallacy of the single cause, in this case a form of biological reductionism that has nothing to do with Darwin's own approach to human beings and the complexity of evolution as further developed by Midgley.

Leslie C
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25 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Learning nothing and forgetting nothing, 23 Dec. 2010
By 
Dr. G. L. Thomas (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics) (Paperback)
Like the Bourbons, Mary Midgley appears to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing since her review of Richard Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene' in the journal 'Philosophy', 54, 1979. There is no logical link whatever between evolutionary biology/ psychology and what Bishop Butler called 'the selfish theory of human nature' to be found (he claimed) in Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes matters because Midgley credits (or discredits) evolutionary biologists for propounding a Hobbesian theory of human nature. Betwixt Hobbes and Dawkins (her main target of attack), however, a great gulf is fixed. Perhaps there is occasional, minor slippage in Dawkins' use of 'selfish' but he does not believe or claim in any serious, significant way that the selfish gene produces selfish human behaviour. Indeed, the needs of the selfish gene may be best served by the development of morality and co-operation among human beings; i.e. human beings who exhibit morality and co-operation are more likely to survive as a group and hence to transmit their genes. All in all this is a half-way interesting book about the limitations of interpreting human motivation in purely or predominantly 'selfish' terms. As a critique of evolutionary biology/ psychology it is, for all the author's evident sincerity, a caricature : and a gross caricature at that. Mary Midgley has done good work in moral pyschology. Unfortunately this book is no part of it.
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The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics)
The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Heretics) by Mary Midgley (Paperback - 20 Sept. 2010)
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