Book: Dawkins Richard «A Devil's Chaplain»

A Devil's Chaplain

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Richard Dawkins is one of the finest minds in science, and in this superb collection of essays and letters, he demonstrates the depth of his knowledge and the rich variety of his interests. Whether he is examining postmodernism or the Human Genome Project, penning a letter to his daughter, or writing a moving eulogy to Douglas Adams and e-mailing Stephen Jay Gould, Dawkins writes with an intellectual vigour and grace that is second to none. This is a very human collection that shows not only the acuity of Dawkins'scientific mind, but also his sense of humour and the warmth of his relationships with friends and family.

Издательство: "Orion Books" (2004)

ISBN: 978-0-7538-1750-6

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Dawkins, Richard

▪ 1997

      University of Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins made a career out of trying to present science in terms that could be understood by the general public. Through television appearances, opinion articles in newspapers, five books, and a CD-ROM, Dawkins had taken up the job of breaking down the barriers between the scientific community and the rest of the world. This led to his being named in 1995 the first Charles Simonyi professor of public understanding of science at Oxford. At the same time, however, he remained controversial, not just because of his views on evolution but also because he had become one of the country's best-known atheists.

      Dawkins was born March 26, 1941, in Nairobi, Kenya, where his father was stationed during World War II. The family moved back to England in 1949, and in 1959 Dawkins entered Oxford, where he studied zoology. After receiving his doctorate, he became (1967) an assistant professor of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, and then returned to Oxford to teach two years later. In 1976 he published his first book, The Selfish Gene, in which he tried to set straight what he thought was a widespread misunderstanding of Darwinism. Dawkins argued that natural selection did not take place on the level of the species or the individual but rather among genes. Genes, he maintained, used the bodies of living things to further their own survival. He also introduced the concept of "memes," the cultural equivalent of genes; ideas—such as fashion, religion, or other cultural phenomena—took on a life of their own within society and, along with genes, affected the progress of human evolution. The book was notable not just because of what it espoused but also because of the way it was written—it appealed to both the general reader and the scientist. More books followed, including The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), and Climbing Mount Improbable (1996). He also released an interactive CD-ROM in 1996, The Evolution of Life, in which users could create "biomorphs," computer-simulated examples of evolution first introduced in The Blind Watchmaker. In fact, it was Dawkins's fascination with computers that contributed to much of the controversy surrounding his ideas. He felt that evolution boiled down to a sort of binary information transfer between genes that could best be expressed through computer simulation.

      Dawkins often appeared on talk shows and debates, defending not only his theories but also his atheism. He likened religious faith to the childish habit of needing someone to blame for anything otherwise inexplicable. He was the winner of a number of awards, both literary and scientific, including the Royal Society of Literature Award. His notoriety only increased with his marriage to Lalla Ward, an actress who had played an assistant to the fictitious television scientist Dr. Who. (ANTHONY G. CRAINE)

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Источник: Dawkins, Richard

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