A Devil s Chaplain
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186 pages

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Essays on morality, mortality, and much more from the New York Times–bestselling author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion.

This early collection of essays from renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is an enthusiastic declaration, a testament to the power of rigorous scientific examination to reveal the wonders of the world.
In these essays, Dawkins revisits the meme, the unit of cultural information that he named and wrote about in his groundbreaking work, The Selfish Gene. Here also are moving tributes to friends and colleagues, including a eulogy for novelist Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; correspondence with fellow biologist Stephen Jay Gould; commentary on the events of 9/11; and visits with the famed paleoanthropologists Richard and Meave Leakey at their African wildlife preserve.
Ending with a vivid note to Dawkins’s ten-year-old daughter, reminding her to remain curious, ask questions, and live the examined life, A Devil’s Chaplain is a fascinating read by “a man of firm opinions, which he expresses with clarity and punch” (Scientific American).



Publié par
Date de parution 27 octobre 2004
Nombre de lectures 6
EAN13 9780547416526
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0075€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Title Page
Introduction to the American Edition
Science and Sensibility
Light Will Be Thrown
The Infected Mind
They Told Me, Heraclitus
Even the Ranks of Tuscany
There Is All Africa and Her Prodigies in Us
A Prayer for My Daughter
About the Author
Copyright © 2003 by Richard Dawkins

All rights reserved

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.


The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Dawkins, Richard, 1941– A devil’s chaplain : reflections on hope, lies, science, and love / Richard Dawkins. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Evolution (Biology) 2. Science—Philosophy. 3. Religion and science. I. Title. QH366.2.D373 2003 500—dc21 2003050859

ISBN 978-0-618-33540-4 hardcover
ISBN 978-0-618-48539-0 paperback

eISBN 978-0-547-41652-6 v3.1117

The author is grateful for permission to reprint the following: “What Is True?”: published as “Hall of Mirrors” in Forbes ASAP, October 2, 2000. Reprinted by permission of Forbes ASAP, © 2003 Forbes Inc. • “Crystalline Truth and Crystal Balls”: published in the Sunday Telegraph. Copyright © Richard Dawkins / Telegraph Group Ltd. 1998. • “Postmodernism Disrobed”: reprinted by permission from Nature 394, pp. 141–3 (1998). Copyright © 1998 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. • “Darwin Triumphant”: from Man and Beast Revisited, edited by Michael H. Robinson and Lionel Tiger, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. Copyright © 1991 by Smithsonian Institution. Used by permission of the publisher. • “The Information Challenge”: originally published in December 1998 in the official journal of Australian skeptics, The Skeptic, vol. 18, no. 4. Reprinted by permission. • “Son of Moore’s Law”: from The Next Fifty Years, edited by J. Brockman, Vintage Books, Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Vintage Books. • “Chinese Junk and Chinese Whispers”: published as the foreword to The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore, Oxford University Press, 1999. Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. • “Viruses of the Mind”: published in Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind, edited by B. Dahlbom, Blackwell, 1993. Reprinted by permission of Blackwell Publishing. • “The Great Convergence”: published as “Snake Oil and Holy Water” in Forbes ASAP, October 4, 1999. Reprinted by permission of Forbes ASAP, © 2003 Forbes Inc. • “Rejoicing in Multifarious Nature”: reprinted by permission from Nature 276, pp. 121–3 (1978). Copyright © 1978 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. • “Human Chauvinism”: reprinted by permission from Evolution 51, no. 3, pp. 1015–20 (1997). • “The Lion Children”: published as the foreword to The Lion Children, by Angus, Maisie, and Travers McNeice, Orion Publishing Group, 2001. Reprinted by permission of the Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
For Juliet on her Eighteenth Birthday
Introduction to the American Edition
This book is a personal selection from among all the articles and lectures, tirades and reflections, book reviews and forewords, tributes and eulogies that I have published (or in some cases not published) over 25 years. There are many themes here, some arising out of Darwinism or science in general, some concerned with morality, some with religion, education, justice, mourning, Africa, history of science, some just plain personal – or what the late Carl Sagan might have called love letters to science and rationality.
Though I admit to occasional flames of (entirely justified) irritation in my writing, I like to think that the greater part of it is good-humoured, perhaps even humorous. Where there is passion, well, there is much to be passionate about. Where there is anger, I hope it is a controlled anger. Where there is sadness, I hope it never spills over into despair but still looks to the future. But mostly science is, for me, a source of living joy, and I hope it shows in these pages.
The book is divided into seven sections, chosen and arranged by the compiler Latha Menon in close collaboration with me. With all the polymathic, literate intelligence you would expect of the executive editor of Encarta Encyclopedia’s World English Edition, Latha has proved to be an inspired anthologist. I have written preambles to each of the seven sections, in which I have reflected on the pieces Latha thought worthy of reprinting and the connections among them. Hers was the difficult task, and I am filled with admiration for her simultaneous grasp of vastly more of my writings than are here reproduced, and for the skill with which she achieved a subtler balance of them than I thought they possessed. But as for what she had to choose from, the responsibility is, of course, mine.
It is not possible to list all the people who helped with the individual pieces, spread as they are over 25 years. Help with the book itself came from Yan Wong, Christine DeBlase-Ballstadt, Michael Dover, Laura van Dam, Catherine Bradley, Anthony Cheetham and, of course, Latha Menon herself. My gratitude to Charles Simonyi – so much more than a benefactor – is unabated. And my wife, Lalla Ward, continues to lend her encouragement, her advice and her fine-tuned ear for the music of language.

Richard Dawkins
Science and Sensibility
The first essay in this volume, A Devil’s Chaplain (1.1), has not previously been published. The title, borrowed by the book, is explained in the essay itself. The second essay, What is True? (1.2), was my contribution to a symposium of that name, in Forbes ASAP magazine. Scientists tend to take a robust view of truth and are impatient of philosophical equivocation over its reality or importance. It’s hard enough coaxing nature to give up her truths, without spectators and hangers-on strewing gratuitous obstacles in our way. My essay argues that we should at least be consistent. Truths about everyday life are just as much – or as little – open to philosophical doubt as scientific truths. Let us shun double standards.
At times I fear turning into a double standards bore. It started in childhood when my first hero, Doctor Dolittle (he returned irresistibly to mind when I read the Naturalist’s Voyage of my adult hero, Charles Darwin), raised my consciousness, to borrow a useful piece of feminist jargon, about our treatment of animals. Non-human animals I should say, for, of course, we are animals. The moral philosopher most justly credited with raising today’s consciousness in this direction is Peter Singer, lately moved from Australia to Princeton. His The Great Ape Project aims towards granting the other great apes, as near as is practically possible, civil rights equivalent to those enjoyed by the human great ape. When you stop and ask yourself why this seems so immediately ridiculous, the harder you think, the less ridiculous it seems. Cheap cracks like ‘I suppose you’ll need reinforced ballot-boxes for gorillas, then?’ are soon dispatched: we give rights, but not the vote, to children, lunatics and Members of the House of Lords. The biggest objection to the GAP is ‘Where will it all end? Rights for oysters?’ (Bertrand Russell’s quip, in a similar context). Where do you draw the line? Gaps in the Mind (1.3), my own contribution to the GAP book, uses an evolutionary argument to show that we should not be in the business of drawing lines in the first place. There’s no law of nature that says boundaries have to be clear-cut.
In December 2000 I was among those invited by David Miliband MP, then Head of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit and now Minister for School Standards, to write a memo on a particular subject for Tony Blair to read over the Christmas holiday. My brief was Science, Genetics, Risk and Ethics (1.4) and I reproduce my (previously unpublished) contribution here (eliminating Risk and some other passages to avoid overlap with other essays).
Any proposal to curtail, in the smallest degree, the right of trial by jury is greeted with wails of affront. On the three occasions when I have been called to serve on a jury, the experience proved disagreeable and disillusioning. Much later, two grotesquely over-publicized trials in the United States prompted me to think through a central reason for my distrust of the jury system, and to write it down as Trial By Jury (1.5).
Crystals are first out of the box of tricks toted by psychics, mystics, mediums and other charlatans. My purpose in the next article was to explain the real magic of crystals to the readers of a London newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph. At one time it was only the low-grade tabloid newspapers that encouraged popular superstitions like crystal-gazing or astrology. Nowadays some up-market newspapers, including the Telegraph, have dumbed down to the extent of printing a regular astrology column, which is why I accepted their invitation to write Crystalline Truth and Crystal Balls (1.6).
A more intellectual species of charlatan is the target of the next essay, Postmodernism Disrobed (1.7). Dawkins’ Law of the Conservation of Difficulty states that obscurantism in an academic

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