Ross (stonehorse) wrote in talkaboutbooks,

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First post to this community.

Hello, long time delurking.

I feel these following 3 books have helped me become more open minded and balanced as a person, which is more of a healthy thing.

Carl Sagan - The Demon Haunted World, Science as a candle in the dark. Finaly made me see that my mother had been abusing me for many years, and helped give me the strength to see that it wasn't her fault and that there was no one to blame.

Richard Dawkins - The Selfish Gene. Made me see that it wasn't 'wrong' to put myself first even if this meant accidentally hurting others, and again helped me to see that I shouldn't hold on to feelings of blame to those who abused me, life is too much of a precious thing to hold back in this fashion.

Richard Wright - The Moral Animal. Taught me that their is no universal code of Morality to paint the worlds human population with, and there for it is in error to try to do such and judge those as being 'good' and 'evil' when confliction comes about due to such. Went some way to show me how people shouldn't always be to blame for things that they do, if you will it made me look deeper into people and their actions then I thought I'd ever do.

And people say Science is a cold, emotionless thing that can't offer words that help heal pain.

So which 3 books have changed you, and in what way.

I highly recommend these books to anyone who is interested in Science or Human behaviour and Evolution.
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Demon Haunted World is one of my favourite books. I love Carl Sagan. It's so interesting reading his work from the early days, when he was a huge UFO buff. Have you read Pale Blue Dot?
I have all his works apart from Contact, which I've been told to read. I'm working my way through Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate at the moment...great read.
I'm not sure you got the right message from The Selfish Gene!
The above was just a quick reference from some of the message I got from the book, it wasn't meant as a 'this is the single message I got from this book.
I think you have to be very careful about getting messages about personal or social behaviour from evolutionary biology, because evolutionary biology has no relevance whatever to personal or social behaviour. For over a century people have been treating to hijack evolution to apply it to other areas of life, but it only applies to biology. It isn't a metaphor for anything else. It isn't a universal concept. The concept of the selfish gene only pplies to genes, it dosn't apply to people or societies.
So your saying that Evolution plays no part in who are what we are, have you looked into Evolutionary Psychology? It may help to open your eyes a bit. It's the whole Nature vs Nurture aguement again, which is never really given a fair sided view as there are to many irrational fears placed upon the side of 'Nature'. These are then hyped up by political movements and religious groups. I personally think that about 70% of who and what we are comes from our Genetic make up, the rest is from the culture we are brought up in. To say it's either one or the other is too 'black & White@, life is very much 'grey'.
Evolution doesn't only apply to it's core Evolution is the passing on of Information, in Biology this is done through Genes.
I'm saying that you can't apply what may be good for a gene - like selfishness - to human behaviour. They're two different concepts. The fact that it might appear that selfishness works for genes tells us nothing about human behaviour. It tells us how genes get passed on.