Dawkins, back in the day

I'm writing a piece about intellectuals on Twitter, which has naturally led me to be reading and thinking about Richard Dawkins. In the course of that, I came across this article, 'In Defence of Selfish Genes', written by him and published in the journal Philosophy in 1981. It's a gem, for reasons that couldn't possibly have been clear at the time:
"I have been taken aback by the inexplicable hostility of Mary Midgley's assault.' Some colleagues have advised me that such transparent spite is best ignored, but others warn that the venomous tone of her article may conceal the errors in its content." 
"I deplore bad manners as strongly as anyone ..." 
"She seems not to understand biology or the way biologists use language. No doubt my ignorance would be just as obvious if I rushed headlong into her field of expertise ..." 
"I am not even very directly interested in man ... " 
"In fact, of course, to the extent that I am interested in human ethics (a rather small extent), I disapprove of egoism. To the extent that I know about human psychology (again, a rather small extent) ..." 
"Her concluding footnote would be hard to match, in reputable journals, for its patronising condescension toward a fellow academic (a fellow academic, moreover, who is a professional in the field under discussion, a field in which the critic herself is most charitably described as trying hard)"
I don't have anything in particular to say about the actual argumentative content of the article: it seems sensible enough; I don't know anything about biology; and I don't want to defend Mary Midgley, who in unrelated work I have come across tirading against space travel on the grounds that "We do not live in the sky ... it would kill us!"

But the idea of Richard Dawkins criticising someone for excessive vitriol is hilarious. And that Dawkins, who routinely shows no deference or respect for the much more cogent views of moral philosophers, and feminists, and social scientists, in the fields of moral philosophy, feminism and social science, thirty years ago had a go at someone for an analogous sin is... brilliant.

Above all: Richard Dawkins, along with his gang of fellow-travelling science evangelicals, who profess themselves to be moral philosophers and humanists and rationalists, today says that he is such a clear-thinking, logically-oriented realist that he's qualified to comment on any topic, and especially on those that traditionally fit in the field of philosophers. That his only published article in an academic journal for philosophy is one where he admits both ignorance of and lack of interest in the field is beautifully ironic.

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