Why Genes Are Not Selfish and People Are Nice

A Challenge to the Dangerous Ideas that Dominate our Lives

Colin Tudge

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Quick Look

  • Many popular ideas suggests that life creatures, including human beings, are driven by their selfish DNA
  • This book argues that life is in fact cooperative; that human beings are basically nice and not selfish
  • This is a powerful call to action to rethink our assumptions, and a message of hope for those who believe we're doomed to self-destruction

Argues that, contrary to many popular ideas, humans are naturally cooperative not selfish, and that the universe is more than just 'stuff' for us to use at will.

234 x 156 mm
Floris Books
Philosophy of Human Life
296 pages
Publication date:
21 Mar 2013


The modern world is dominated by ideas that are threatening to kill us: that life is one long battle from conception to grave; that all creatures, including human beings, are driven by their selfish DNA; that the universe is just stuff, for us to use at will.

These ideas are seen as emerging from science and hard-nosed philosophy, and become self-fulfilling. They have led us to create a world in perpetual strife,that is unjust and in many ways precarious.

This remarkable book by an experienced author and thinker argues there's another way of looking at the world that is just as rooted in modern science, and yet says precisely the opposite: that life is in fact cooperative; all creatures, including human beings, are basically nice; that there's more to the 'stuff' of the world than meets the eye.

This book is both a powerful call to rethink our assumptions, and a message of hope for those who believe we're doomed to self-destruction.


'Given the scope of these great questions, Tudge does a good job in making relatively succinct and practical suggestions on how we might take action to find alternative solutions that help challenge "the dangerous ideas that dominate our lives" … On a firm foundation of a broad, scientifically philosophical metaphysic we can build a social infrastructure based on sound economic and political theory, which will in turn make day-to-day realities of life more cooperative, healthy and meaningful. This one might call a new theology of collaboration, based, as Tudge defines it, on "transcendence, oneness, compassion and humility." … Tudge is one of many voices calling for just such a "nice," kindly, new theology. And one might well ask: "ain't that nice enough for starters? What's not to like?" '
-- Martin Lockley, Scientific & Medical Network Review

'This wise and far-reaching book points the way to a better, more inclusive kind of science and a better, more inclusive kind of religion in a positive, constructive relationship. This is surely what we need most in the twenty-first century and Tudge is a genial guide for all who feel the need to move on from scientific and religious fundamentalism, environmentally destructive capitalism and an economic philosophy of selfishness, competition and limitless growth. Tudge points the way to a new kind of agriculture, a new way of living in harmony with our planet and the universe, and with each other. This book is an impressive synthesis and is admirably non-technical, conversational and approachable. Tudge, one of our most distinguished science writers, is a prophet for our time, and a very welcome voice of sanity and reason.'
-- Rupert Sheldrake

'This book more than lives up to its subtitle. It does indeed challenge big bad ideas, whether they be about the natural world, the human condition within it, or our habits of thought and behaviour, and suggests some bigger, better ideas for the future. In short replace the conventional wisdom. All this is laid out in easy but scholarly fashion, and the conclusions are a
personal testament. Think differently is the message. We are now better able to do so.'
-- Sir Crispin Tickell

'Tudge is a biologist, brought up on the positivistic prejudices that dominated the mid-20th century, but never able fully to accept them. He seeks to do two things: first, to challenge these materialist prejudices, and, second, to argue that metaphysics are essential to our practical enter prises… The book is written with great humour and in an easy-going, conversational style, and may be taken as a sign of what may really be a change of cultural tide.'
-- Church Times

'The title of this book works as an excellent resume: it is well worth reading… This is a powerful book with important ideas. It is easy to read, with a wealth of illustrative stories and a good index. Though not professing to be a Christian the author has discussed his ideas with those who are and is widely read.'
-- ThirdWay

'This is an important book and should be read widely… it covers a great deal of ground, all of it of interest and some of it of vital relevance to how we judge the universe and ourselves.'
-- Literary Review


Colin Tudge is a biologist by education and a writer by trade. He has written many books on natural history, evolution, food and farming. He has a lifelong interest in agriculture; he and his wife, Ruth, run the Campaign for Real Farming. He lives in Oxford, England.


You may also be interested in:
Nature's Due: Healing our Fragmented Culture by Brian Goodwin
Grow Small, Think Beautiful: Ideas for a Sustainable World from Schumacher College edited by Stephan Harding
The Intuitive Way of Knowing: A Tribute to Brian Goodwin edited by David Lambert and Chris Chetland

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