Finally I took the time to read another of the classics, Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, on my to-read-bookshelf that waited there already for quite some time. Not being a biologist and having been trained in Game Theory I have to admit, I do not see the controversy this book had caused. Even when he starts to discuss implications for human society and culture, the evolution of ideas and, yes, social norms I do not feel the urge to object. But, it is the 30th anniversary edition. Things were different back in the seventies.
I was a bit surprised, though, to find extensive references – basically a renarration – to Robert Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation in one of the two chapters that were added later to this book. It is certainly instructive and somehow fits the general theme. Yet, this chapter has a different “feel”.
Not surprising was, however, that you cannot fail to notice that Dawkins certainly is not a devout catholic. Other works of his make this more explicit. Yet, the Selfish Gene is already a good indication of his conviction about religion.
My conclusion: The Selfish Gene is still an interesting and instructive text that should (also) be read by social scientist – right before or when they start to learn some Game Theory.