On communication and manipulation

3. All communication is `manipulation of signal-receiver by signal-sender.’

This profound communication, though it might easily have come from any used-car salesman reflecting on life, was actually sent by Dawkins, (in The Extended Phenotype, (1982), p. 57), to the readers whom he was at that point engaged in manipulating. Much as the devil, in many medieval plays, advises the audience not to take his advice.

From David Stove, 1994 ‘So You Think You Are a Darwinian?’

Stove cites this proposition as a peculiar Darwinian belief that’s obviously false. But he offers no refutation there. Maybe none is deserved. I don’t know if Dawkins argued for it or asserted it. (I should read The Extended Phenotype.) For now, I just want to examine the proposition.

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