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The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Paperback)
  • The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Paperback)
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The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Paperback)

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£26.99
Paperback 176 Pages / Published: 20/09/2010
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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.

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
ISBN: 9781844652532
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 181 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In this humane, readable and erudite book, Midgley shows empathy with human conflicts about motives. In the context of higher education, this is precisely the book that could engage students from the humanities and colleagues from the natural sciences in a genuine conversation on human nature." Willem B. Drees, Leiden University, Times Higher Education
"In many ways, the book is itself a summary. It leaves us with a very short work that highlights the connections between biological, socio-political, and philosophical developments covering several hundred years of history. It emphasizes the importance of a proper understanding of that historical context for contemporary debates, and attempts to both criticize and develop a defensible alternative. It does all of this and still finds space for a number of insightful and provocative asides. In brief, it is a short walk of uncommon breadth, one that challenges even while many of the particular arguments have a familiar ring." Philosophy Review
"Althought a short book, The Solitary Self is packed with ideas - ranging over political philosophy, philosophical psychology, philosophy of science, and the legacy of Darwin. A central theme of the book is a criticism of the reductionist views in philosophy of science, which Midgley sees as motivating wrongheaded oversimplification. Midgley counters such views, in part, by appealing to what she sees as the richer understanding of animal consciousness found in Darwin. The book is written in an engaging style accessible to readers at all levels. Highly recommended." CHOICE

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