How precious and mysterious is our freedom
These days I have many issues with The Selflish Gene, but, nevertheless, despite that this is a book telling us all the way through up to the last page the precise opposite, Richard Dawkins ends it with such a thrilling clarion call to freedom. “We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators”. But, if we are built by the genes solely to carry out their purposes, how is this? I find myself unsatisfied by the explanation we are given in Richard’s essay “Genes Aren’t Us”. It is as if, he tells us, we were suspended from the ceiling in a blanket held by multitudes of tangled strings. If one string goes missing or gets cut it affects the tension in all the other strings which explains why we aren’t always exactly the robots intended by the genes. I don’t see this as escaping from the tyranny of the selfish replicators at all, but only a slightly less efficient form of servitude. It is only now that I have come to realise how precious our freedom is. May I take the liberty of calling him Richard without too great a degree of impertinent familiarity? I don’t want to refer to him as Dawkins because that is the professional language of the distinguished colleagues he refers to so often, much to my annoyance I must admit. My debt to him, in spite of my now many disagreements, is too personal for that.