New York Times: SCIENCE

OXFORD, England –You walk out of a soft-falling rain into the living room of an Oxford don, with great walls of books, handsome art and, on the far side of the room, graceful windows onto a luxuriant garden.

Does this man, arguably the world’s most influential evolutionary biologist, spend most of his time here or in the field? Prof. Richard Dawkins smiles faintly. He did not find fame spending dusty days picking at shale in search of ancient trilobites. Nor has he traipsed the African bush charting the sex life of wildebeests.

He gets little charge from such exertions.

“My interest in biology was pretty much always on the philosophical side,” he says, listing the essential questions that drive him. “Why do we exist, why are we here, what is it all about?”

It is in no fashion to diminish Professor Dawkins, a youthful 70, to say that his greatest accomplishment has come as a profoundly original thinker, synthesizer and writer. His epiphanies follow on the heels of long sessions of reading and thought, and a bit of procrastination. He is an elegant stylist with a taste for metaphor. And he has a knack, a predisposition even, for assailing orthodoxy.

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2 thoughts on “… a profoundly original thinker, synthesizer and writer

  1. two things are clear from this. one that we owe so much to the tirerless and meticulous work of Charles Darwin. two that evolution is progressive and tends to lead to more complexity. this was new thinking for me. pasive evolution is not possible so passive thinking is not possible

  2. “What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus?” And that is in essence the greatness of Dawkins – he does not waste time on subjects that are largely irrelevant. And that makes him an important thinker. Instead of being drawn into tenacious ideas with the rest of the tribe, he stands outside and observes then discards what he does not need – making way for new and original viewpoints.

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