Algeny: A New Word--A New World
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Algeny: A New Word--A New World; A Provocative Critique of Darwinism, the Age of Genetic Engineering, and Our Relationship to Nature is controversial book written by American economist Jeremy Rifkin and published by Penguin Books in 1983.
Algeny claims to be a controversial reevaluation of Darwinism, a critique of the coming era of bioengineering, and a critical examination of the way we view our relationship with nature. Darwinian evolution, Rifkin holds, is a product of 19th century industrial capitalism. Rifkin claims that natural selection is under attack; however, his book confuses "Darwinism" with evolution. According to a review of the book:
[Rifkin] trots out the common errors of anti-evolutionists: natural selection as tautology, lack of intermediate forms, arguments by probability, even the non-Darwinian notion that evolution means progress toward perfection and self sufficiency. He ends up tarring Darwin with a Social Darwinist brush, saying that Darwin unconsciously voiced the upper-class Englishman's justifications of Malthusian measures. You will get the idea that Darwin has been buried by everyone from creationist Duane Gish to exponent Stephen Jay Gould. These arguments lead Rifkin to his concept of the new cosmology and its issue: an information-processing evolution in which ""fields"" and biological clocks weld together to create the driving force for a universal mind guiding future waves of evolution. [doubled quotes in original]
Stephen Jay Gould in a 1985 issue of Discovery magazine wrote: "I regard Algeny as a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship. Among books promoted as serious intellectual statements by important thinkers, I don't think I have ever read a shoddier work. Damned shame, too, because the deep issue is troubling and I do not disagree with Rifkin's basic pleas for respecting the integrity of evolutionary lineages. But devious means compromise good ends, and we shall have to save Rifkin's humane conclusion from his own lamentable tactics."
In a review of the book, Stephen C. Maxson wrote "Rifkin does not believe in evolution of species. In his view, species are separate entities with natural and impedetrable reproductive boundaries, this there is no genetic or biological relationship between one species and another. Rifkin's criticisms of evolution are no different those of the religious creationists and have been dismissed by the scientific community.
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- Genes, Species, and Evolution: A Critique of Rifkinism. Algeny by Jeremy Rifkin; Declaration of a Heretic by Jeremy Rifkin, Review by: Stephen C. Maxson. Politics and the Life Sciences , Vol. 5, No. 2 (Feb., 1987), pp. 289-290