Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think 304 pages
While such festschrifts are usually deadly dull, designed to flatter rather than enlighten, this is a delightful exception, containing a number of thought-provoking essays that go beyond mere appreciation of Dawkins's book.
More than two dozen essays comprise this collection. They are topically organised, starting with the biology issues, moving through the logic Dawkins uses to his writing skills. Today, the biology seems straightforward: genes build bodies. Those bodies contain nervous systems and brains - the root of behaviours.
At the publication of "The Selfish Gene", it was widely thought that evolution worked at the species' level. Dawkins moved that mechanism much deeper. Its effect is manifested through various ways, with mate choice one of the more significant.
The "selfish gene" operating in humans has, of course, caused the greatest distress among many readers. An entire section of the book is devoted to that issue. Randolph Nesse discusses how the term "selfish" has been mindlessly condemned by many.
If genes build bodies and guide behaviour, how many of our activities are similarly directed? How many of our actions are "genetically determined". Nesse notes that Dawkins had closed his book saying we are the one species capable of overriding our genes' guidance, few either read or failed to comprehend the implications.