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The Extended Phenotype

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,426 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
People commonly view evolution as a process of competition between individuals--known as "survival of the fittest"--with the individual representing the "unit of selection." Richard Dawkins offers a controversial reinterpretation of that idea in The Extended Phenotype, now being reissued to coincide with the publication of the second edition of his highly-acclaimed The Sel ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 28th 1989 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1982)
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Jan 05, 2014 Krishan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in evolution
The book is a logical continuation of his devastating book The Selfish Gene. Here Dawkins turns his critical eye and razor sharp words to evolutionary views that take the individual organism as the definitive playing field for natural selection to operate.
Using the gene's eye view of life that he developed so well in The Selfish Gene, he shows that animal artifacts are better understood as objects engineered by natural selection, rather than as by products of the behavior of organisms. He als
Mar 13, 2011 Peter added it
The essentials of life's story: Biodiversity is more than a buzzword for ecologists. Variation gives life its grandeur, and Richard Dawkins gives us a description of the workings of variation. Fortunately, with a sharp mind and sharper wit, he has the ability to deliver this portrayal so that nearly everyone can understand it. That's not to say this book is an easy read. Although he delivers his narration as if sitting with you in a quiet study, you may still need to review his words more than o ...more
Michael Korbakov
Jul 29, 2014 Michael Korbakov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great but fatiguing

Contrary to Dawkin's most famous "Selfish Gene" this book is much more difficult to read for a non-biologist person. Some parts required me to google terms definitions and problem backgrounds each paragraph, if not line.
Despite of this the whole reading experience is very satisfying. Lot of new concepts that bring up interesting ideas, numerous facts and remarkably great language - all of this teams up to build the great book. It's great reading for everyone ready to grind thr
Mar 21, 2013 Svetlana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The language of the book cannot be called simple and it takes some efforts to follow the authors reasoning, but these efforts will reap big reward. In process of reading you will experience the happiness of discovers time and again, have finished the book you will get another angle of view of the phenomenon of life. Don't panic, extend your mind.
Rawa Muhsin
A more academic and detailed discussion of pretty much the same topics as in the updated edition of The Selfish Gene. In fact, as he himself mentions in the preface, it is intended for a professional audience. That is why I had difficulty going through many of the chapters and one or two points almost decided to stop reading the book half way through. But I kept on anyways.

The main chapters of the book (the last 4 chapters) were much more understandable than many of the earlier ones. If you are
Bob Anderson
May 07, 2015 Bob Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Dawkins here explains his view that the largest unit on which natural selection can reasonably be said to operate is the gene rather than the organism, and explores this idea’s consequences for the standard conceptions of organisms, groups, and selection. The motif he introduces to show this best is a Necker Cube, which is a simple line drawing of all the edges of a cube: when looked at for the first time, it seems to be an overhead view of the cube. But with some visual effort, you can ...more
Bob Nichols
Aug 04, 2014 Bob Nichols rated it really liked it
In this book, Dawkins picks up his selfish gene theme and extends its influence to organs and systems within the body and then to the external environment. In doing so, Dawkins never strays from his central themes: Genes are in charge, pursuing their self-interest; the body and its behavior is their vehicle; and the germ-line replicator is the unit of selection.

Dawkins argues* that the gene replicators first begin to transcend their gene-only behavior within the body when they cooperate with ot
People say my name should be Jeff
I'd give it 5 stars if I knew enough biology to be able to confirm it (or 1 if I could refute it).
Feb 22, 2015 Charbel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, science
In The Extended Phenotype, Richard Dawkins proposes that the expression of a gene is not limited simply to the organism's physical appearance or phenotype, that is the direct synthesis of proteins, or to the organism's behaviour, but also includes the impact of the phenotype and the behaviour on the organism's environment. This hypothesis is not experimental in the traditional sense; rather it's a new way to think about the impact of the gene. Of course, this new approach revolves around the ide ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Ianw19 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The main idea of this book is rather simple: Genes do not only program the physical development of the organisms that they "live in." Rather they also program stuff that occurs outside of the organism. The genes found in most bird species program the development of nests in the exact same sense that they program the development of wings. There are genes in the beaver gene-pool that program dams just like there are genes that program whiskers.

The extension of the phenotype gets more interesting,
Oct 08, 2008 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 17, 2012 JJVid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
"[The] 'central theorem' of the extended phenotype: An animal's behaviour tends to maximize the survival of the genes 'for' that behaviour, whether or not those genes happen to be in the body of the particular animal
performing it." p233

Dawkin's theory of the extended phenotype is given full expression in this his self-proclaimed favorite work. It is only now that I realize the publication of The Extended Phenotype (TEP) was in 1982, a mere three years after my favorite work of his The Selfish Ge
Apr 30, 2011 Katja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ru, kindle
An extra read for those who liked "The Selfish Gene". This one was written for biologists but the glossary in the end of the book and Dawkins' illuminating prose make it easy to follow. The first chapters are aimed at precluding any possible misunderstandings of what Dawkins meant in "The Selfish Gene". The last four chapters explain the long-reach-of-the-gene idea and argue that the phenotypical effects are not limited to one organism. With a multitude of examples Dawkins demonstrates that ther ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Louis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, science
In this perspective-shifting book, Dawkins took the notion of the selfish gene and deepened it considerably, following it through to its logical conclusion: as far as natural selection is concerned, the entire biosphere is a game of genetics. It's all, at bottom, about the replicators and how they proliferate, interact, cooperate and compete for representation down the generations. This is a novel way of looking at and asking questions about organisms, their behaviours and their artifacts. It pr ...more
Mickey Lee
Dec 30, 2014 Mickey Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compared to the Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype is a much less 'advocative' book. Bringing the ideas introduced in the Selfish Gene, Dawkins explores an array of natural phenomenon, including multicellular life itself.

The central theorem of this book is that the phenotypic effects of alleles (or 'genes') is not constrained to the immediate organism the gene sits in. This is explored in the last few chapters, and provided me a different angle in viewing biological systems.

As a biology studen
Jim Talbott
Jul 29, 2011 Jim Talbott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not as approachable as "The Selfish Gene," but it's a very strong follow-up for people who want more and who are willing to do a little work... Because of the rigor and the slightly different tilt of the book, there are many broader implications revealed through this treatment that weren't evident to me from "The Selfish Gene." As a non-biologist, the discussions frequently pushed me to their implications in the non-genetic meme-scape.
Anatoly v01
По нынешним временам книжка несколько устарела, и скучновата, особенно в середине.
Тем не менее, это уже классика.
Nov 05, 2014 McKenzie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, evolution, 4-50
What continues to impress me about Dawkins’ writing is his accessible style, with solid opening paragraphs and good chapter endings. So much so, that I was able to trace backwards his basic ideas presented in, “The Extended Phenotype,” and translate them from the language of phenotypes to epigenetics. Phenotypes are the set of epigenetic features that change a cell.

Dawkins’ openly states his thesis:

“The thesis that I shall support is this. It is legitimate to speak of adaptations as being ‘fo
Becky Black
I was pretty proud of myself for getting through this one. Not because it's boring - Dawkins is never boring! - but I'm definitely a layperson and this one is far more technical than the others I'd read. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because it gives more depth and perspective on the ideas in the more populist books.
Feb 03, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Four and a half. A more academic follow-up to The Selfish Gene, Dawkins' thesis here is that a set of genes (a genotype)effects a series of behaviors (a phenotype), and that that phenotype is not limited to the interior of an organism. That is, genetic effects can extend to other organisms and to the environment as well. Persuasively and ingeniously argued, this book will change your perspective on what it means to have a "genetic predisposition".

Readers interested in the theories presented in
Genetic Cuckoo
May 26, 2011 Genetic Cuckoo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
A wonderufl book for anyone interested in biology or genetics. It talks about how natural selection can be altered and produce very shocking results. It explains how the peacock got it's tail and the interesting train of between being desirable as a mate and being able to survive. It's a facinating book.
Dec 16, 2014 Pink rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, library, dawkins
I'm sure this is great, but I'm not a scientist and as one of Dawkins least accessible books, this one was overkill. It's an expansion of topics covered in The Selfish Gene, which I'd previously enjoyed, but there was too much detail for me to take in. I'll skip back to some of his later books.
Molly Brodak
Oct 01, 2011 Molly Brodak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the one to read. Anyone who wants to say anything about Dawkins should read this first.
Apr 17, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book for everyone. Technically challanging for non-biologists.
Mar 16, 2014 Luke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: interesting
I recently finished The Extended Phenotype by Professor Richard Dawkins. Published over thirty years ago this book is surprisingly relevant as well as profoundly interesting and important. This book is a “work of unabashed advocacy” used by the author, a prominent Biologist, to introduce his view he dubbed the Extended Phenotype. It is a work of nonfiction, but is more of a zealous lecture than a narrative. This book is an extension of his first book, The Selfish Gene which introduces his theor ...more
Loránd Szakács
This is the follow up to Richard Dawkins' first book The Selfish Gene. It is aimed at people who have some formal training in biology, specifically biology undergraduate students. It is also packed with much more jargon than any of his other books, consequently it does require more effort on part of the layman reader.

But all effort required to properly understand The Extended Phenotype is well worth it. It pays off immensely. Suffice it to say, that the central concept of the book The Long Re
C. S. Lane
Mar 19, 2015 C. S. Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In which Richard Dawkins cogently explains the logical extension of phenotypic effects beyond the confines of the organism.

Even if Dawkins had not already established himself as an eminent voice in contemporary biology with his propagation of the concept of Selfish Genes---this book--this idea: the extended phenotype---would well have been enough to secure his legacy all on its own.

Dawkin's idea of the Extended Phenotype is perhaps the theoretical crowning jewel of his career, and it is an idea
Jan 11, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a strange one. First of all, Dawkins starts by saying the book is written for his professional colleagues and that laypeople who have read his other works may struggle. I fall into the former category (I'm currently doing a PhD in evolutionary biology), but I also found this a real struggle. It wasn't because the language was too technical or the idea were beyond me - this book is really in two parts.

The Extended Phenotype builds on and follows on from Dawkins's previous work, the infam
Due terzi del libro sono intesi a controbattere le critiche a precedenti scritti dell’Autore, per cui da un lato se non si e’ letto almeno “il gene egoista” diventa difficile comprendere appieno questo libro. Poiche’ le critiche al concetto del gene egoista provenivano (alla fine degli anni ’70) da una parte della comunita’ scientifica, la replica e’ spesso piuttosto tecnica (tanto che Dawkins ha ritenuto necessario aggiungere un glossario alla fine). Nondimeno, il libro e’ affascinante come tut ...more
May 02, 2014 Glauber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
The first two thirds of the book are actually an extension of the previous book (The Selfish Gene) where Dawkins goes deeper in that idea and discusses whatever he thought necessary before actually discussing the idea of the extended phenotype, which he does in the last third of the book. Again, this idea is not a real theory, instead, it's a different way of seeing things just like the selfish gene was. Indeed, the extended phenotype idea is more of a corollary that follows from the selfish gen ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
  • The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language
  • Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human
  • Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought
  • The Meme Machine
  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
  • Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins
  • What Evolution Is
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
  • Dawkins vs Gould: Survival of the Fittest
  • Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth

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“The whole purpose of our search for a ‘unit of selection’ is to discover a suitable actor to play the leading role in our metaphors of purpose.” 0 likes
“Adoption and contraception, like reading, mathematics, and stress-induced illness, are products of an animal that is living in an environment radically different from the one in which its genes were naturally selected.” 0 likes
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