Richard Dawkins is considered by his peers to be the foremost ultra-Darwinist who is known for his popularisation of Darwinian ideas as well as for original thinking on evolutionary theory. He developed his ideas on evolution and wrote his books during a time known as "Post-Darwin". He first encountered Darwin’s work at the age of 16 and was initially sceptical of it, not believing that it was comprehensive enough to be able to explain everything. However, he later realised that it was.

Charles Darwin proposed the original theory of Natural Selection in 1858. It is sometimes interpreted as an assertion that all animals are adapted to their environment, with characteristics that "fit" them to their way of life. Thus, this would explain why giraffes have long necks in order to reach the tops of the trees and stick insects look like twigs in order to avoid being eaten by birds. However, Darwin did not intend his theory to be about animals simply surviving and reproducing and being engaged in a private fight with their physical environments. He intended his theory to mean organisms surviving better than their competitors. He saw animals engaged in a struggle to exist and reproduce in which the best plant or animal won. It was not good enough to be good at surviving; the important thing was to be better than the competition. Thus, he viewed evolution as the "survival of the fittest" and believed that many traits evolved because of their advantage to the individual even though they are disadvantageous to others in the population.

Darwinism, therefore, went against the traditional belief that animals behaved in a certain way for the good of the species, or group that they lived in, and instead postulate the importance of the individual. It was from this stage in the development of the evolution debate that Dawkins took over, and went on to argue that it was not even the individuals that were competing against each other, but the genes.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.