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John Keats beklagte zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts, dass Newton den Regenbogen entzaubert habe, da er dessen Farben auf die Spektren eines Prismas reduziert habe. Richard Dawkins, obwohl ein großer Fan des Dichters der Romantik, behauptet, dass Keats hier völlig falsch liege, denn: "The poetry is in the science" (18).

"Unweaving the Rainbow" ist eine Liebeserklärung an die Wissenschaft und deren verkanntes poetisches Potential. Im ersten Teil des Buches erklärt Dawkins dem Leser einige Errungenschaften der Wissenschaft, die unser aller Leben bereichert und es deshalb nicht verdient haben, als unästhetische Spielverderberei bezeichnet zu werden. Relativitäts- und Quantentheorie sowie der genetische Fingerabdruck wirken zwar recht technokratisch, seien aber beeindruckender und schöner als so manches Gedicht.

Ab dem 7. Kapitel ("Unweaving the Uncanny") konzentriert sich Dawkins auf die pseudowissenschaftlichen Scharlatane (Horoskope usw.), die gegen die Schönheit der wahren Wissenschaft keine Chance haben. Ebenso attackiert der Autor die verschiedenen Welterklärungsversuche der diversen Religionen, die durch ihr fantasieloses Zurückgreifen auf einen metaphysischen Schöpfer gar nicht in der Lage seien, die Welt als Ergebnis eines evolutionären Prozesses von mehreren Milliarden Jahren in ihrer ganzen Pracht zu genießen.

Höhepunkte des Buches sind die Passagen über die Wirkungsmechanismen der Evolution, dem Spezialgebiet des wortgewaltigen Verfechters von Darwins Lehre.

Das Thema Poesie bildet den Kern des Buches und Dawkins selbst produziert ein Stück wissenschaftlicher Poesie. Wenn man seine Erklärungen der Rätsel unserer Welt liest, fragt man sich, warum sich immer noch so viele Menschen nach irgendwelchen Schöpfergestalten sehnen. Gerade eben hat der 65-jährige mit "The God Delusion" seine kompromisslose Abrechnung mit dem Phänomen Religion vorgelegt, die weltweit für Furore sorgt.
0Kommentar| 4 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
The rule of Occam's Razor is that the simplest explanation that fits the facts is usually the correct one. Although no one can yet know whether Dawkins is right in his neo-Darwinian view of the gene, his argument certainly seems simpler and more consistent than those he argues against. Basically, his point is that evolution must be analyzed from the perspective of what is likely to have facilitated or discouraged the continued reproduction of a given bit of DNA. Most alternative theorists favor looking from the perspective of the individual carrying the DNA or the group the individual belongs to.
On the eve of the deciphering of the human genome, this is a terrific time to read this thought-provoking book. Basically, the book repeatedly looks at observed plant and animal behavior in terms of whether it furthers reproduction of a particular gene or set of genes. In most cases, Dawkins can construct a mathematical argument that is reasonably plausible to support his thesis. The only places where you may be uncomfortable is that the conclusions often depend on the assumptions that go into the models used. Those cited by Dawkins work. Others would not in many cases. That's where the room for doubt arises.
I was especially impressed when he took the same arguments into the realm of conscious behavior, looking at classic problems like the Prisoner's Dilemma and explaining it from a genetic reproduction perspective. He also built some very nice arguments for why altruism can turn out to be an appropriate form of positive genetic selection.
The main thing that bothered me as I read the book is that I was under the impression that in humans the female's genes account for 2/3rds of the offspring's total genes, while the male's genes account for 1/3. If that is true, then I am left at sea by the fact that all of the examples assume equal amounts of genes from the male and the female. I was left wondering if other species are typically 50-50, so that humans are the exception.
I don't know how to account for this because I lack that knowledge. The introduction says that the publisher would not let there be a wholesale rewrite of the book in the new edition. Perhaps this is something that Dawkins wanted to revise and could not. There are two new chapters, and they are both quite interesting.
If most mammalian species are 2/3 to 1/3, then many of the examples involving mammals are miscalculated. It would be worth redoing them if that is the case. I suspect that the conclusions would still be robust, however, directionally.
Any work of speculation will always be subject to refinement and revision. I hope Dawkins keeps working on this one. His thinking has great potential for outlining new questions for research.
One of the delights of this book is finding about plant and animal behaviors that I had never known about before. My favorite was the irresistible cuckoo gape. Apparently, a baby cuckoo in a next with its beak open begging for food is somehow so compelling that other birds carrying food back to another nest will stop by and give the food instead to the baby cuckoo. The book is full of thought-provoking examples like this that will keep me thinking for years.
Dawkins is a very fine writer, and employs a number of simple, but compelling stories and analogies to carry forth complicated mathematical arguments. Even if you hate math, you will follow and enjoy his writing. Unlike many popular science books, he writes to his reader rather than down to his reader.
Another benefit you will get from this book is a methodology for thinking through why behavior may make sense that otherwise looks foolish from the perspective of the individual (like bees dying to defend the hive). You will never look at behavior in quite the same way again.
Enjoy!
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am 27. März 2000
Not many people have the gift of taking some common event and deconstructing it to the nth degree, while making it all seem quite normal. As in his other books (Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, etc.) Mr. Dawkins makes your mind boggle at the way nature use very simple (?) building blocks to fashion something extraordinary ... like us. You are set back on your heels when you realise that your body is largely composed of modified bacteria, without which we could not exist. He goes on to expound on how we see and from there how our brain interprets the world, comparing it to Virtual Reality (no comparison!) - anyone who has experienced any form of VR will understand the immense computing power it takes to present even a half-decent rendition, but the brain does this continuously AND has time to dream, imagine, remember past events and places all in real-time - I doubt if enough teraflops of computer power exist in the world even now to do that.
The main thrust of the book is the poetry of science; how, by understanding more about the way the universe works, we can appreciate the wonder of it all the better - open our minds to something more beautiful than just the outward appearance of a beautiful object - even make us see the beauty in some not-so- pleasant sights!
In this book he uses well thought-out, easy-to-grasp concepts to explode myths, de-bunk charlatans, and de-mystify magic (a little TOO vitriolic at times, I fear!) - all with the intention of opening our minds to the concept of evolution (specifically Darwinism). He takes us from rainbows to barcodes to DNA in easy stages, explaining in graphic (but never tedious) detail just how nature can (and will) evolve all its wonders.
Sometimes I had to put the book on one side just to let the enormity of it all sink in. I still find it hard to grasp the vastness of time it required for nature to accomplish all that it has - yes, I can imagine a thousand years; a million? ... I'm struggling now; a billion? ... overload! But that's what you need to do to come to grips with the evolutionary process. I suspect it's this lack of comprehension / imagination that is behind the beliefs of many Creationists, or maybe a refusal to accept that evolution can happen without some 'intervention'. Having laid myself open to attack, I can only recommend that you read what Mr. Dawkins has to say and make up your own mind who has the right of it.
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am 31. Juli 2017
My favorite book so far. I enjoyed very interesting examples from nature given by the author. The idea of extended phenotype was very interesting. The calculations of relatedness between individuals and cells (in algae) were very interesting and in strong support for "selfishness". He crushes many socialist arguments on social insects. The book certainly gives a new and solid world view of reality.
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am 5. April 2006
Mit diesem Buch, das zum ersten Mal im Jahre 1976 erschienen ist, hat Richard Dawkins seinen Ruf als einer der maßgeblichen Evolutionsbiologen und als einer der besten Wissenschaftsautoren aller Zeiten begründet. Seit 1995 hat er die - eigens für ihn geschaffene - Charles Simonyi Professur For The Public Understanding of Science an der Oxford University inne. Selbstverständlich ist er Mitglied der Royal Society und der Royal Society of Literature. Ebenso selbstverständlich hat er zahlreiche Preise und Auszeichnungen erhalten: 1987 den Royal Society of Literature Award und den Los Angeles Times Literary Prize, 1990 den Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, 1994 den Nakayama Prize, 1997 den International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science, 2001 den Kistler Prize und 2005 den Shakespeare Prize. Wann endlich wird er den Nobelpreis bekommen?
Schon allein das Inhaltsverzeichnis der 1976-er Ausgabe zu lesen war ein Vergnügen:
1. Why are people?
2. The replicators
3. Immortal coils
4. The gene machine
5. Agression: stability and the selfish machine
6. Genesmanship
7. Family planning
8. Battle of the generations
9. Battle of the sexes
10. You scratch my back, I'll ride on yours
11. Memes: the new replicators
In der Ausgabe von 1989 wurden noch die beiden folgenden Kapitel angefügt:
12. Nice guys finish first
13. The long reach of the gene
Kapitel 12 präsentiert und diskutiert die Computersimulationen, die der Politikwissenschaftler Robert Axelrod durchgeführt hat, um die »Evolution der Kooperation« zu erhellen. Dawkins gelingt es auf wunderbare Weise, die Axelrodschen Untersuchungen durchsichtig darzustellen.
Kapitel 13 stellt eine Kurzfassung von Dawkins' zweitem Buch, »The Extended Genotype« dar, ein Buch, das er selbst für sein bestes hält.
Außerdem wurden die Kapitel 1 bis 11 durch Endnoten ergänzt, erläutert oder aktualisiert.
Die 30th Anniversary Edition enthält zusätzlich eine 8 Seiten umfassende Einleitung, in der Dawkins unter anderem den anthropomorphischen Buchtitel, der ihm oft genug vorgeworfen wurde, diskutiert und verteidigt. Er räumt ein, dass Titel wie »The Immortal Gene«, »The Cooperative Gene« oder »The Altruistic Vehicle« möglicherweise weniger Fehldeutungen provoziert hätten. Richtig besehen geht es Dawkins darum, »the gene's eye view«, die Perspektive des Gens, darzustellen. Populär und als Frage formuliert: Was täten Sie, wenn Sie ein Gen wären?
Was macht nun die spezifische Pointe dieses Buches aus? Abgesehen davon, dass es durchgängig eine brilliante schriftstellerische Leistung ist - »They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.« - zeichnet es sich durch eine geglückte Synthese aus Evolutionsbiologie, Genetik und Spieltheorie aus.
Unter Rückgriff auf Ideen von George C. Williams, William D. Hamilton, John Maynard Smith und Robert Trivers, die damals, im Jahre 1976, einem größeren Publikum noch weitgehend unbekannt waren, behandelt Dawkins Phänomene wie »inclusive fitness« oder »kin selection«, »reciprocal altruism«, »parental investment«, »parent-offspring conflict« und »Evolutionarily Stable Equilibrium« (ESS).
Ironischerweise hat das 11. Kapitel, »Memes: the new replicators«, eine modische Forschungsrichtung, nämlich »Memetics«, zu etablieren geholfen, von der sich Dawkins später eher distanziert hat. Ein Mem, z. B. eine Idee, wird von ihm verstanden als eine Einheit kultureller Evolution, die sich analog zu einem Gen, durch Replikation erhält oder ausbreitet. Einer der prominentesten Verfechter dieses Gedankens ist der Philosoph Daniel C. Dennett. Weniger gut durchdacht scheinen die Überlegungen der Psychologin Susan Blackmore (»The Meme Machine«) zu sein. Dass aus der Memetik jemals eine Wissenschaft vom Range der Molekulargenetik entstehen könnte, ist höchst zweifelhaft, die Unterschiede zwischen biotischer und kultureller Evolution sind schlicht und einfach zu groß.
Von diesem Buch gibt es auch eine deutsche Übersetzung (»Das egoistische Gen«), die einigermaßen gelungen ist. Aber das englische Original ist eindeutig nicht zu übertreffen. Wer die englische Sprache liebt - immerhin die Sprache von Shakespeare, Hobbes, Chaucer, Thackeray und Austen - sollte unbedingt zum Original greifen.
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"Replicators began not merely to exist, but to construct for themselves containers, vehicles for their continued existence. The replicarors that survived were the ones that built survival machines for themselves to live in" (19).

Dawkins These ist also, dass die Replikatoren, sprich die Gene, Maschinen für ihr eigenes Überleben konstruiert haben. Maschinen wie einfache Zellen, Pflanzen, Tiere und den Menschen.
In klarer Sprache für ein Laienpublikum geschrieben und dennoch auf einem intellektuell atemberaubenden Niveau, beantwortet der Oxfordprofessor die Fragen, die uns alle umtreibt: Woher kommen wir? Was ist der Sinn des Lebens?

Als einer der leidenschaftlichsten Kämpfer für die Evolutionslehre analysiert und bewertet Richard Dawkins die überwältigende Menge an Indizien und Beweisen, die belegen, dass wir das nicht-zielgerichtete Produkt eines auf natürlicher Auslese beruhenden Prozesses sind. Das wiederum bedeutet aber eben nicht, dass der Mensch ein rein zufälliges Produkt ist. Natürliche Selektion hat nichts mit Zufall zu tun. Sie bevorzugt die Eigenschaften, die sich in der Praxis bewährt haben, das Überleben eines Organismuses zu sichern. Nichts könnte weniger mit Zufall zu tun. Es gibt auch zufällige Veränderungen des Genmaterials, die sogenannten Mutationen, die, wenn sie sich als tauglich erweisen, von der natürlichen Selektion bevorzugt werden. Es ist jedoch absolut notwendig, diese beiden Mechansimen, natürliche Selektion und Zufallsmutationen, auseinanderzuhalten. In seinem Buch The Blind Watchmaker formuliert Dawkins folgenderweise: "Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind" (5).

Dass "The Selfish Gene" mittlerweile zu einem absoluten Klassiker geworden ist, liegt an dem von Dawkins eingeführten Begriffs des "meme". Ein meme ist "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation" (192). Ein meme ist also das geistige Gegenstück zu einem Gen und enthält nicht das biologische sondern das kulturelle Erbgut des Menschen. Ein meme kann alles sein: Kleidung, Essen, Frisuren, Musik, Fernsehen, Kino, Tänze usw.

Als besonders hartnäckiges und gefährliches meme hat sich, so Dawkins, die Religion erwiesen. Mit Mitteln der Wissenschaft kämpft er gegen den Wahrheitsanspruch der Religionen, welche diesen mit nichts anderen als uralten Mythen für sich in Anspruch nehmen und sich auch nicht davon abschrecken lassen, dass sämtlich in der Bibel aufgeführten Erklärungsmodelle bereits einwandfrei widerlegt worden sind: "God exists, if only in form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture" (193).

Fazit: "The Selfish Gene" ist ein Klassiker! Richard Dawkins gibt den Menschen eine Stimme, die fassungslos mit ansehen müssen, wie der religiöse Fundamentalismus in Amerika und zunehmend auch in Deutschland die Errungenschaften der Wissenschaft und der Aufklärung bekämpft. Aber mit intellektuellen Vorreitern wie Dawkins braucht keiner die anstehenden Debatten zu fürchten.
0Kommentar| 8 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 21. November 1999
Richard Dawkins reminds me of the protagonist in Plato's Cave analogy: one of those rare individuals who staggers out of the stygian depths of human ignorance and catches a brief but blinding glimpse of the way things actually are. However, on his joyous return to the cave to tell people about the marvel and wonder of what he has just witnessed, he is attacked and killed for ruining our blissfull stupidity. In other words, Dawkins is attempting to spread his (and science's) message about the external reality that we reside in, but the masses just don't want to hear it. They want their "spirituality" and "mysticism", whatever those things are supposed mean (looked 'em up in the dictionary and all i got were a few vague, circular, and ultimately meaningless definitions-not that i was surprised, however). Dawkins thinks that as long as people have an open mind and a decent ability to comprehend english, they will see the beauty of what he is saying-that the universe is bigger, better, more beautiful, amazing, awe-inspiring, and just completely more mind-blowing than anything that any religion or cult purported it to be. Judging from the many of the reviews, this is simply not the case. They would rather have their tiny, impotent god, their narrow-minded ideology that is responsible for much of the hatred and bigotry that we find lurking around us. People do not want to be told that they are just another animal, on just another planet, orbiting just another star, found in just another galaxy, which in turn, is perhaps in just another universe. We shout out against this clear voice of reason that we are the center of the universe, because our collective ego knows no bounds. We are not just animals we say desparately, trying to convince ourselves more than anyone else. Poor Mr. Dawkins; his intelligence, wit, clarity, and excellent prose style is wasted on these philistines, these "christians" and other self-righteous types, who would like nothing more than to see Mr. Dawkins "sin" of thinking rationally and not assuming that we, that hateful, murdering, genocidal portion of the animal kingdom that calls itself humanity, are the reason for the existence of everything, although our existence is necessary for nothing. Give us back our purpose, we shout at Mr. Dawkins, so that we won't have to realize how empty and shallow our lives actually are. Do not tell us that we are not immortal, we howl, so that we won't realize how much of our lives have been wasted in the pointless rat-race of capitalist America, home of the free and land of the depraved. We retort "your science cannot explain art, music, or literature", ignoring the fact that our god cannot even explain our existence-the same god who told us that the earth is flat and slavery is a-ok, as long as you give money to the church. However, Mr.Dawkins is not afraid of us, the great anti-intellectual american beast, and that is what makes us hate him even more.
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am 16. April 1999
Dawkins fans like me will be horrified by this book. Roughly speaking , it could be sub-titled 'Why Science isn't boring' but, unlike the thrilling romp of 'The Selfish Gene' or the interest of 'The Blind Watchmaker', here Dawkins bangs wearily on, often on his own hobby horses or things he evidently knows little about.
He hectors us about watching the X-Files, he has a predictable go at Stephan Jay Gould, he repeats earlier work almost verbatim. His previous books demonstrated brilliantly how science can be rivetting, enlightening, enthralling and elegant. This is very sad, a little like watching a once-great dancer try his old stunts after drinking to excess. The little flashes of brilliance simply serve to remind you of what has gone.
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am 23. Dezember 1999
This needn't be printed here, as it is only a reflection of my thoughts on the reviewers and not a commentary on the book itself. But then, that, I think, is the very point. I find it most interesting as I browse through the reviews and examine the "helpful" tallies, that this review session seems to have served more as a forum for a discussion of God vs. science than a real dialog on the merits of the book. (In fact, I find it telling that I was tempted to vote on the reviews based not on their helpfulness, but on how I felt about the viewpoint which they expressed.) I wonder then, if a book that has managed to provoke this much thought isn't somehow valuable regardless of whether or not one agrees with it? For isn't literature nothing if not an ongoing discussion? Just food for thought....
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I applaud the scrupulous research and integrity that went into the making of this book, and the warmth and generosity (and righteous indignation when necessary) of its tone. "Unweaving the Rainbow" will become a classic, sections excerpted into anthologies to be taught as examples of clear, rational content and of powerful, persuasive, and effective prose.
Bravely, honestly, logically, with good humor and grace, Dawkins stands up for what he believes. And he believes that the study of science is essential for helping us to understand and appreciate ourselves and others and the world around us: why we do what we do, feel the way we feel; how the laws of nature work and what that means to the way we live our lives. If I could sum up the message of twentieth-century literature (which I have taught at the university level for nearly thirty years now) in one sentence, it would be the same poignant conclusion that Dawkins reaches in this book of science: We are able to care for each other and the world more deeply when we realize we are all we've got, and our time here is brief indeed: "The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that makes life worth living and it does so, if anything, MORE effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living it is finite." [caps mine]
Science can reveal why we do what we do, feel the way we feel. All of us in different countries, unlike in so many ways - Dawkins shows us a common ground, a way to touch each other's lives in communication, a way to live lives of exuberant celebration. Poetry tells the story of what it means to be human in this particular time and this particular place, universal connections between all the things in the world and all the people. So does this exhilarating book of science, which (like listening to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy") makes me happy to be alive.
As a poet and teacher of creative writing (the headline above is taken from one of my Darwin poems), I find the POETRY of Unweaving to be as good as any being written anywhere today - and better than much of it. I would give anything to have described "the thread . . . by which our existence hangs" as "wincingly tenuous" ( 2). The joy of those last two words, one sound briefly kissing the other and passing gracefully on, my favorite kind of rhyme and devilishly difficult to accomplish.
The diction: "A fawn's pelage is a painting of the dappled pattern of sunlight filtered through trees onto the woodland floor" (240).
The metaphors and similes: "[Scientists] assist the imagination back to the hot birth of time and forward to the eternal cold . . ." (16). I have given birth, and "hot" is le mot juste. How beautifully intuitive he is: how else could a male know? A perfect analogy weds the factually accurate (literal truths) with the non-factually accurate (figurative truths). And Dawkins calls always for accuracy. That's where he departs from those who insist on holding on to an [eternal]- life preserver, the supernatural faith of their childhoods, instead of taking the trouble to build, plank by thoughtful plank, a boat that will float in real water. He understands and sympathizes with their needs - most of the book is devoted to explaining how such delusions are born of our very natural "appetite for wonder." But their needs (and all the false analogies in the world) cannot turn wishful thinking into fact, cannot unwrite the laws of nature. When I was a child, I thought as a child; as an adult, I want to put away believing that childish (irrational) things are reality, while maintaining a child-like (imaginative) sense of curiosity and awe. "Unweaving the Rainbow" helps me do both.
The humor: how the skin of a squid behaves like an LED screen, and "the skinflicks it shows are spectacular" (7). "The total area of membranous structure inside one of us works out at more than 200 acres. That's a respectable farm" (9).
The eloquence of Unweaving goes on and on, every page with the teeming abundance of a Burgess Shale. BUT (I can tell you as a writer) such a work can evolve only by "gradual accumulation," many drafts ending in the trash can, many excursions down dead-end streets. No "long-jump mutations." No "top- down" inspiration. Just hard work and perspiration here on the ground.
A few readers might say he treads on their cherished flowers (some of these flowers being "wild" indeed); but most will thrill to the way he treads on the weeds of superstition and ignorance, plants new seeds of thought to bloom in our minds, points out new "flowers" of beauty in the natural world that we had not noticed before.
Thank you, Richard Dawkins, for sharing with us your extraordinary mind, your passionate quest for honesty and accuracy, your perceptive awareness of the importance of human relationships - and most of all for this splendid rendering of the natural world.
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