I’ve known of some of Richard Dawkins writings for decades, and have read a few. Until recently, I knew nothing about the man, his life. I had developed a negative stereotype of Dawkins as a reductionist from his stance reflected in the title of his book, The Selfish Gene, which I did read long ago and have forgotten its contents. I had to be reminded that he introduced the concept of “meme”. I also knew him as a “new atheist”; which, for an unexamined reason, I also had a negative bias as their being too aggressive, making Atheism their religion/ideology. I don’t know why I took this perspective, as the ills of religions do deserve attention and remedial action. I now speculate that my marriage of reductionism with aggressive atheism, seemed to give each greater negative value, not analytically deserved.
I continue having concerns about the efficacy of reductionism and aggressive atheism as useful themes in the weave of a better future for Humankind/Gaia. I should view these themes in the context of complementarity, having value so long as they don’t demand prominence over other themes.
Listening more to Dawkins, I encountered the atheist-as-sketpic, smearing quality scientific research into anomalous (psychic, paranormal) phenomena with the same brush used against charlatan stage magicians.
A very, very rich and fulfilling life, was what shone through Dawkins’s second memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science. I am listening to the CD. I had started his earlier memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist (which I will return to). Dawkins read the books on the CDs. I am motivated to read more of him, but he must compete with a long, long list of other persons whose ideas I value.
Highly influential contributions to science, also shone through. I had been unaware of his detailed contribution to biology and his adventurous field trips. I also became much more aware of the life of renown persons, of many professions, in frequent special gatherings – where they periodically shared their ideas. This may have been a tradition in Europe, but he attended many throughout the globe. This is quite different from the larger professional conferences, and represents an elite community.
Dawkins enlightened me on the power of mathematics in genetics and the cross fertilization of ideas between fields, often because of their use of the same mathematical models.
Slowly emergent while listening to Dawkins, was the realization of how much I have missed in my own life. I became aware, again, of my strong resistance against personal contact with famous persons. I became, again, aware that my own seemingly grandiose conceptual schemes, claiming top comprehensiveness, are actually rather small in comparison to those with expertise in specific disciplines.
I did, somehow, delve deeply in my graduate studies in physics and math. But, I only did enough to pass the courses. I never developed the expertise of a quality physicist (there are probably many degree PhDs like me – not fully experts). I speculate that the comprehensiveness I attempt is possible only because I don’t have details in the deep fractal levels for each discipline, sub- and sub-sub- disciplines. My use of positive “ignorance” enables this, which may be why others have difficulty comprehending my insights.
I have long suspected that nuet’s processes select that specific knowledge OF ignorance, for each discipline, which contributes to the relationships between disciplines and assists in the comprehensiveness of the whole of nuet’s conceptual scheme. Nuet’s use of complementarity assists this, as logical conflict doesn’t force exclusion of conceptual schemes (as conceptual tools). I have been concerned that this could lead to a self-fulfilling process far from correspondence with reality; but I sense this not to be the case.
As I put time/space between Dawkins and myself, I realize that the breadth of his life is relative. He did/does live a richer life than I, in many aspects. But, his life, as for every human, is dwarfed by the accomplishments of humankind as a whole.
There have been special geniuses who appeared to us “normals” to have had fully comprehensive minds. It would be interesting to a study of such minds. John von Neumann is the only one who comes to mind at this time. Einstein was not of this kind. Yet, I venture that there would be blindspots discovered in each of their worlds, and an natural (unavoidable) bias for some domains over others. Dawkins is also not a genius, of any type – simply an intelligent human raised and living in unique circumstances.
After searching online about Richard Dawkins I discover a dark underside. His normal wikipedia bio is contrasted with a right-wing Trustworthy Encyclopedia, which below the biased bio are many valid links to real controversies orbiting Richard.
Indeed, this Conserapedia is a phenomenon to be investigated.