Selfish Genes Quotes

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Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
Richard Dawkins (River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life)
Just as blueprints don't necessarily specify blue buildings, selfish genes don't necessarily specify selfish organisms. As we shall see, sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is build a selfless brain. Genes are a play within a play, not the interior monologue of the players.
Steven Pinker (How the Mind Works)
We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
People don't want other people to be people.
Gene Wolfe (Shadow & Claw)
The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop being true.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
There is only one all pervading God. It has only one message - Love all, encompass all and transcend the limits of the selfish gene.
Amit Ray
Any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In the beginning was simplicity.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
You can make some inferences about a man's character if you know something about the conditions in which he has survived and prospered.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Perhaps consciousness arises when the brain's simulation of the world becomes so complex that it must include a model of itself.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are all born selfish.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It is a simple logic truth that, short of mass emigration into space, with rockets taking off at the rate of several million per second, uncontrolled birth-rates are bound to lead to horribly increased death –rates. It is hard to believe that this simple truth is not understood by those leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods. They express a preference for ‘natural’ methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Some of our friends are our friends only because we used to be friends.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
Individuals are not stable things, they are fleeting. Chromosomes too are shuffled into oblivion, like hands of cards soon after they are dealt. But the cards themselves survive the shuffling. The cards are the genes. The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over, they merely change partners and march on. Of course they march on. That is their business. They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The purpose of karma yoga is to transcend the bondage of selfish genes through the service of others.
Amit Ray (Yoga The Science of Well-Being)
If there is a human moral to be drawn, it is that we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Relatives share a substantial proportion of their genes. Each selfish gene therefore has its loyalties divided between different bodies.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use. The mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It was a kindness that was hard to understand... and the most selfishness she's ever shown.
Bisco Hatori (Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 3 (Ouran High School Host Club, #3))
I am an enthusiastic Darwinian, but I think Darwinism is too big a theory to be confined to the narrow context of the gene.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Realize this, though. Half my genes run through your body, and my selfish genome is heavily evolutionarily pre-programmed to look out for its copies. The other half is copied from the man I admire most in all the worlds and time, so my interest is doubly riveted. The artistic combination of the two, shall we say, arrests my attention.
Lois McMaster Bujold (Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan Saga, #8))
Chance" is just a word expressing ignorance
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A retaliator behaves like a hawk when he is attacked by a hawk, and like a dove when he meets a dove. When he meets another retaliator he plays like a dove. A retaliator is a conditional strategist. His behaviour depends on the behaviour of his opponent.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos, but do any of us really tie our life's hopes to the ultimate fate of the cosmos anyway? Of course we don't; not if we are sane. Our lives are ruled by all sorts of closer, warmer, human ambitions and perceptions.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In some rare cases, a friendship between two people benefits both of them, and what’s more, in some rarer cases, it benefits both of them equally.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
We are survival machines-robot vehicles blindly programmer to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Shouldn’t children be taught critical, sceptical thinking from an early age? Shouldn’t we all be taught to doubt, to weigh up plausibility, to demand evidence?
Richard Dawkins (Childhood, Boyhood, Truth: From an African Youth to the Selfish Gene)
The story of Doubting Thomas is told, not so that we shall admire Thomas, but so that we can admire the other apostles in comparison. Thomas demanded evidence … The other apostles, whose faith was so strong that they did not need evidence, are held to us as worthy of imitation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. . . . We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: ‘Have they discovered evolution yet?
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It is hard to believe that this simple truth is not understood by those leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods. They express a preference for 'natural' methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Many of us shrink from judicial execution of even the most horrible human criminals, while we cheerfully countenance the shooting without trial of fairly mild animal pests. Indeed we kill members of other harmless species as a means of recreation and amusement. A human foetus, with no more human feeling than an amoeba, enjoys a reverence and legal protection far in excess of those granted to an adult chimpanzee. Yet the chimp feels and thinks and — according to recent experimental evidence — may even be capable of learning a form of human language.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Wild animals almost never die of old age: starvation, disease, or predators catch up with them long before they become really senile. Until recently this was true of man too. Most animals die in childhood, many never get beyond the egg stage. Starvation and other causes of death are the ultimate reasons why populations cannot increase indefinitely.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
I speculate that we shall come to accept the more radical idea that each one of our genes is a symbiotic unit. We are gigantic colonies of symbiotic genes.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Another curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it!
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The genes are master programmers, and they are programming for their lives.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Was there to be any end to the gradual improvement in the techniques and artifices used by the replicators to ensure their own continuation in the world? There would be plenty of time for improvement. What weird engines of self-preservation would the millennia bring forth? Four thousand million years on, what was to be the fate of the ancient replicators? They did not die out, for they are past masters of the survival arts. But do not look for them floating loose in the sea; they gave up that cavalier freedom long ago. Now they swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
There is bound to be variation in the population of males in their predisposition to be faithful husbands. If females could recognize such qualities in advance, they could benefit themselves by choosing males possessing them. One way for a female to do this is to play hard to get for a long time, to be coy. Any male who is not patient enough to wait until the female eventually consents to copulate is not likely to be a good bet as a faithful husband.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
I am not trying to make a point by telling stories. Chosen examples are never serious evidence for any worthwhile generalization.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
For more than three thousand million years, DNA has been the only replicator worth talking about in the world. But it does not necessarily hold these monopoly rights for all time. Whenever conditions arise in which a new kind of replicator can make copies of itself, the new replicators will tend to take over, and start a new kind of evolution of their own.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
Richard Dawkins (River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life)
We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
many of us have been convinced that we carry the darkness within us, in our selfish genes. “It is simply human nature,” we’re told, “to rape and kill and enslave—and anyone who thinks otherwise is a foolish romantic.” This messaging not only offends our decency and dignity, it insults our intelligence. The depiction of human nature embedded in the NPP isn’t science; it’s a marketing campaign for the status quo.
Christopher Ryan (Civilized to Death: What Was Lost on the Way to Modernity)
Anyone can popularize science if he oversimplifies.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
[...] there is no need to pay homage to the product of selfish genes - as though self-replicating DNA from the old Darwinian era were some sort of secular equivalent to Providence.
David Pearce
Enlightenment is transcending the limits of the Selfish gene. It is mastering the pain, pleasure and reward circuits of the brain by radiating peace, love and harmony from every cell of the body.*
Amit Ray (Enlightenment Step by Step)
*Prostitution* is a euphemism for rape incidents that the victim and the economy profits from.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
Every single good person is a good person for their own sake, not for the sake of humanity, not even for the sake of another human being.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
We are, or rather our natural desire to evade pain and to attain pleasure is, the primary reason we do or say every single thing we do or say.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
In many cases, it was the woman’s stomach—not her heart—that fell for her man.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
With only a little imagination we can see the gene as sitting at the centre of a radiating web of extended phenotypic power.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It was harder to work out that there was a question than to think of the answer.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Perhaps, then, the words male and female have no general meaning.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.* 12
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
No single bad person regards themselves as a bad person.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
Los genes operan de manera misteriosa.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Oricât de mult am vrea să credem altcumva, iubirea universală şi bunăstarea tuturor speciilor laolaltă sunt, din punct de vedere evoluţionist, concepte fără sens.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In the world of the extended phenotype, ask not how an animal's behaviour benefits its genes; ask instead whose genes it is benefiting.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Should we then not expect lions to refrain from killing antelopes, ‘for the good of the mammals’?
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Prediction in a complex world is a chancy business. Every decision that a survival machine takes is a gamble, and it is the business of genes to program brains in advance so that on average they take decisions that pay off. The currency used in the casino of evolution is survival, strictly gene survival, but for many purposes individual survival is a reasonable approximation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
I should also give some space to Amotz Zahavi’s idea that altruistic donation might be a ‘Potlatch’ style of dominance signal: see how superior to you I am, I can afford to make a donation to you!
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The only thing I hate about good people is that they like making their being good people bad people’s problem.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
Females and boys are the only creatures that propose others for friendship. As for the rest of us, friendship sort of just happens.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
although evolution may seem, in some vague sense, a ‘good thing’, especially since we are the product of it, nothing actually ‘wants’ to evolve. Evolution
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
What shall it profit a male if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his immortal genes?
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The currency used in the casino of evolution is survival, strictly gene survival, but for many purposes individual survival is a reasonable approximation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
رهبران مذهبی جهان ترجیح خود را در مورد روش‌های طبیعی کنترل جمعیت اظهار می‌کنند و روش طبیعی دقیقاً همان چیزی است که دارند به آن می‌رسند، چیزی به نام مردن از گرسنگی.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
One way to express the answer is that it might happen by 'chance'. But 'chance' is just a word expressing ignorance. It means 'determined by some as yet unknown, or unspecified, means'.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Among the required reading for all PUAs were books on evolutionary theory: The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, Sperm Wars by Robin Baker. You read them, and you understand why women tend to like jerks, why men want so many sexual partners, and why so many people cheat on their spouses. At the same time, however, you understand that the violent impulses most of us successfully repress are actually normal and natural. For Mystery, a Darwinist by nature, these books gave him an intellectual justification for his antisocial emotions and his desire to harm the organism that had mated with his woman. It was not a healthy thing. Tyler
Neil Strauss (The Game)
Different sorts of survival machine appear very varied on the outside and in their internal organs. An octopus is nothing like a mouse, and both are quite different from an oak tree. Yet in their fundamental chemistry they are rather uniform, and, in particular, the replicators that they bear, the genes, are basically the same kind of molecule in all of us—from bacteria to elephants. We are all survival machines for the same kind of replicator—molecules called DNA— but there are many different ways of making a living in the world, and the replicators have built a vast range of machines to exploit them. A monkey is a machine that preserves genes up trees, a fish is a machine that preserves genes in the water; there is even a small worm that preserves genes in German beer mats. DNA works in mysterious ways.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The notable thing about his story here is not its atheism but its fatalism. The drama that it presents of helpless humans enslaved by a callous fate-figure is, of course, not new and, like all such myths, it conveys not just meaninglessness but a positive, sinister meaning – the presence of an active oppressor.
Mary Midgley (The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene)
The God Delusion is a rather disorganized collage of arguments and pastiche of assertions which cannot be said to advance those ideas or enhance their critical edge, but rather harnesses them in the service of the advocacy of atheism.
Alister E. McGrath (Dawkins' God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion)
It is humanly impossible to be selfless. As a matter of fact, human beings are inherently selfish.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
The pleasure or the benefit that the object of our deed derives from it is every now and then greater or even more important than the one we derive from the deed.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
In some cases, it is the woman’s stomach—not her heart—that has left her man for another.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
The purpose of a lecture should not be to impart information. There are books, libraries, nowadays the internet, for that. A lecture should inspire and provoke thought.
Richard Dawkins (Childhood, Boyhood, Truth: From an African Youth to the Selfish Gene)
My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
درواقع در هیچ‌چیز میل به تکامل وجود ندارد، تکامل چیزی است که وقوع آن نتیجه اشتباه در همتا سازی است.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Philosophy and the subjects known as ‘humanities’ are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Rather than propose a new theory or unearth a new fact, often the most important contribution a scientist can make is to discover a new way of seeing old theories or facts.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
There is no universally agreed definition of a gene.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
There exists no objective basis on which to elevate one species above another.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
An ESS is stable, not because it is particularly good for the individuals participating in it, but simply because it is immune to treachery from within.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It requires a deliberate mental effort to turn biology the right way up again, and remind ourselves that the replicators come first, in importance as well as in history.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It touches every aspect of our social lives, our loving and hating, fighting and cooperating, giving and stealing, our greed and our generosity.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
it will explore the consequences of the evolution theory for a particular issue. My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism. Apart
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
evolution is blind to the future
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The Selfish Gene—he set off decades of debate by declaring: “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.
James Gleick (The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood)
Long before he became well known for his atheism, Dawkins was famous for the ideas set out in his book The Selfish Gene.
Matt Ridley (The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge)
An itinerant selfish gene/ Said 'bodies a- plenty I've seen./ You think you're so clever/ But I'll live for ever./ You're just a survival machine.
Richard Dawkins
That genes explain our behaviour and well-being distracts attention from society as a cause; such ideas also encourage us to accept or pursue chemical, physical solutions, not social change.
Oliver James (The Selfish Capitalist - Origins of Affluenza)
I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr’s death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religious faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth that still fills me with astonishment. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
Matt Ridley (Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters)
انتخاب طبیعی در خزانه ژنی به ژن‌هایی که بچه را به تقلب وا‌می‌دارد برتری می‌دهد، اگر بشود درس اخلاقی از آن گرفت، این است که ایثارگری را باید به بچه آموزش داد زیرا این‌طور نیست که جزئی از سرشت ذاتی باشد.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
There exists no objective basis on which to elevate one species above another. Chimp and human, lizard and fungus, we have all evolved over some three billion years by a process known as natural selection.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Our genes made us. We animals exist for their preservation and are nothing more than their throwaway survival machines. The world of the selfish gene is one of savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit.
Anonymous
Since we humans do not want to return to the old selfish ways where we let the children of too-large families starve to death, we have abolished the family as a unit of economic self-sufficiency, and substituted the state.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
senile decay is simply a by-product of the accumulation in the gene pool of late-acting lethal and semi-lethal genes, which have been allowed to slip through the net of natural selection simply because they are late-acting.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Blind faith can justify anything.* If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die—on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader’s sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
در خویشان نزدیک و اقوام درجه‌یک، احتمال مشترک بودن ژن‌ها بیشتر از حد متوسط است و مدت‌هاست که معلوم شده همین باید دلیل فراگیر بودن ایثارگری پدر و مادر نسبت به فرزندانشان باشد زیرا ژن‌ها از طریق نسل‌های بعد به عمر خود ادامه می‌دهند.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
When we die there are two things we can leave behind us: genes and memes. We were built as gene machines, created to pass on our genes. But that aspect of us will be forgotten in three generations. Your child, even your grandchild, may bear a resemblance to you, perhaps in facial features, in a talent for music, in the colour of her hair. But as each generation passes, the contribution of your genes is halved. It does not take long to reach negligible proportions. Our genes may be immortal but the collection of genes that is any one of us is bound to crumble away. Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of William the Conqueror. Yet it is quite probable that she bears not a single one of the old king’s genes. We should not seek immortality in reproduction. But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea, compose a tune, invent a sparking plug, write a poem, it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G. C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The memecomplexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
No matter how much knowledge and wisdom you acquire during your life, not one jot will be passed on to your children by genetic means. Each new generation starts from scratch. A body is the genes' way of preserving the genes unaltered.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
بعضی‌ها پیشگیری از آبستنی را خلاف طبیعت می‌دانند، اما مشکل اینجاست که رفاه اجتماعی هم خلاف طبیعت است. اما نمی‌توان رفاه اجتماعی خلاف طبیعت را داشت ولی کنترل جمعیت خلاف طبیعت را نداشت، چون در این صورت نتیجه نهایی فلاکتی است بیش ازآنچه طبیعت بر ما تحمیل می‌کند.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It is one thing when the culture doesn’t “get” adoption. What else could one expect when all of life is seen as the quest of “selfish genes” for survival? It is one thing when the culture doesn’t “get” adoption and so speaks of buying a cat as “adopting” a pet.
Russell D. Moore (Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches)
Having anticipated the onward march of our selfish genes, many of us are unprepared for children who present unfamiliar needs. Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger, and the more alien the stranger, the stronger the whiff of negativity.
Andrew Solomon (Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity)
To label someone as selfless is symptomatic of having bought the preposterous claim that a human being can have great concern for other human beings and little concern for themselves, or that, when taken to extremes, a human being can have great concern for other human beings and absolutely no concern for themselves.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana (The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism)
People who are depressed at the thought that all our motives are selfish are [confused]. They have mixed up ultimate causation (why something evolved by natural selection) with proximate causation (how the entity works here and now). [A] good way to understand the logic of natural selection is to imagine that genes are agents with selfish motives. [T]he genes have metaphorical motives — making copies of themselves — and the organisms they design have real motives. But they are not the same motives. Sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is wire unselfish motives into a human brain — heartfelt, unstinting, deep-in-the-marrow unselfishness. The love of children (who carry one's genes into posterity), a faithful spouse (whose genetic fate is identical to one's own), and friends and allies (who trust you if you're trustworthy) can be bottomless and unimpeachable as far as we humans are concerned (proximate level), even if it is metaphorically self-serving as far as the genes are concerned (ultimate level). Combine this with the common misconception that the genes are a kind of essence or core of the person, and you get a mongrel of Dawkins and Freud: the idea that the metaphorical motives of the genes are the deep, unconscious, ulterior motives of the person. That is an error.
Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature)
For example, if (as Dawkins argues) deceit is fundamental in animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray—by the subtle signs of self-knowledge—the deception being practiced.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Teach the children compassion and empathy, for all creatures are born selfish.
Abhijit Naskar
Nothing is more lethal for certain kinds of meme than a tendency to look for evidence.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
altruism
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A male on the other hand can never get enough copulations with as many different females as possible: the word excess has no meaning for a male.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The computers in which memes live are human brains.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
اگر چیزی واقعیت داشته باشد، با هیچ آرزویی عوض نمی‌شود.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
ایمان نمی‌تواند کوه‌ها را به حرکت درآورد ولی می‌تواند مردم را چنان به سمت بی‌خردی‌های خطرناک سوق دهد که می‌شود آن را نوعی بیماری ذهنی دانست.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
True warfare in which large rival armies fight to the death is known only in man and in social insects.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The earliest form of natural selection was simply a selection of stable forms and a rejection of unstable ones. There is no mystery about this. It had to happen by definition.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
how unordered atoms could group themselves into ever more complex patterns until they ended up manufacturing people.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
شاید درواقع سرنوشت نهایی جهان در پی هدف خاصی نباشد، ولی آیا ما باید امیدهای زندگی‌مان را به سرنوشت نهایی جهان گره بزنیم؟
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Each individual goes on for an unpredictable time. Unpredictable on any particular occasion, that is, but averaging the true value of the resource
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
First cousins, for instance, have two common ancestors, and the generation distance via each one is 4. Therefore their relatedness is
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A mutant individual who was prepared to go on just a little bit longer would always win. So the strategy of maintaining a fixed bidding limit is unstable.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Time is the currency of this two-bidder auction.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Per quanto noi possiamo deplorare una cosa, questo non le impedisce di essere vera.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
For all I know, entire scientific reputations may have been built on the work of students and colleagues! I don’t know what can be done to combat this dishonesty.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
any mis-copying that resulted in a new higher level of stability, or a new way of reducing the stability of rivals, was automatically preserved and multiplied.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
All that happens is that individuals who are accustomed to winning become even more likely to win, while individuals who are accustomed to losing become steadily more likely to lose.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In that case there must have been genes controlling variation in caddis houses, for selection cannot produce adaptations unless there are hereditary differences among which to select.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It shouldn’t surprise us that members of the same culture that gave us capitalism as the dominant economic model—based as it is on the insane notion that selfish individuals all attempting to maximally exploit each other will somehow create stable and healthy human communities (never mind that it never has and functionally cannot)—would give us variants of the selfish gene theory as the dominant biological model—based as it is on the equally insane notion that selfish individuals all attempting to maximally exploit each other will somehow create stable and healthy natural communities (never mind that it never has and functionally cannot). Both are justifications for what the dominant culture does: steal from everyone else. Absent
Derrick Jensen (The Myth of Human Supremacy)
Instead of being assembled by genes, the worm was assembled by “memes,” a word coined by British scientist and polemicist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Memes are original ideas. Dawkins argued that they play the same role in cultural evolution as genes play in biology, getting passed along from person to person, surviving and adapting as they move.
Mark Bowden (Worm: The First Digital World War)
What, after all, is so special about genes? The answer is that they are replicators. The laws of physics are supposed to be true all over the accessible universe. Are there any principles of biology which are likely to have similar universal validity? When astronauts voyage to distant planets and look for life, they can expect to find creatures too strange and unearthly for us to imagine. But is there anything which must be true of all life, wherever it is found, and whatever the basis of its chemistry? If forms of life exist whose chemistry is based on silicon rather than carbon, or ammonia rather than water, if creatures are discovered which boil to death at -100 degrees centigrade, if a form of life is found which is not based on chemistry at all, but on electronic reverberating circuits, will there still be any general principle which is true of all life? Obviously I do not know but, if I had to bet, I would put my money on one fundamental principle. This is the law that all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. The gene, the DNA molecule, happens to be the replicating entity which prevails on our own planet. There may be others. If there are, provided certain conditions are met, they will almost inevitably tend to become the basis for an evolutionary process.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
there is a pressure for genes to be selfish, but in an enlightened way, to collaborate, coordinate, and play their small part in ensuring that their host, this “survival machine,” flourishes.
Daniel Bor (The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning)
We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism—something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.*
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
some people, educationally over-endowed with the tools of philosophy, cannot resist poking in their scholarly apparatus where it isn’t helpful. I am reminded of P. B. Medawar’s remark about the attractions of ‘philosophy-fiction’ to ‘a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought’.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A copy of Skeptic magazine ostentatiously tucked under his arm, the Darwin fish on the bumper of his car proudly signals his group identification with other members of the herd of “independent thinkers.” He “knows” that there is no God, and he isn’t sure whether even the thoughts he thinks he’s having are real or not. But he is pretty sure that his “selfish genes” and/or his “memes” in some way manipulate his every action, and quite certain that there’s nothing questionable per se about “marrying” another man, strangling an unwanted disabled infant, or sodomizing a goat or a corpse (if that’s “what you’re into”). Despite his hatred of religion, he thinks global warming a greater danger than Islamic terrorism, and whether “meat is murder” is a proposition he thinks eminently worthy of consideration.
Edward Feser (The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism)
To try to make a man, you would have to work at your biochemical cocktail-shaker for a period so long that the entire age of the universe would seem like an eye-blink, and even then you would not succeed.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Faith is powerful enough to immunise people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunises them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religious faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods express a preference for ‘natural’ methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The life of any one physical DNA molecule is quite short—perhaps a matter of months, certainly not more than one lifetime. But a DNA molecule could theoretically live on in the form of copies of itself for a hundred million years.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
According to this theory then, senile decay is simply a by-product of the accumulation in the gene pool of late-acting lethal and semi-lethal genes, which have been allowed to slip through the net of natural selection simply because they are late-acting.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence in the dictionary of a word like ‘living’ does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
gene plays a role, are quite tractable, but anything entailing higher dimensionality falls apart. Understanding the genetic makeup of a unit will never allow us to understand the behavior of the unit itself. A reminder that what I am writing here isn’t an opinion. It is a straightforward mathematical property. The mean-field approach is when one uses the average interaction between, say, two people, and generalizes to the group—it is only possible if there are no asymmetries. For instance, Yaneer Bar-Yam has applied the failure of mean-field to evolutionary theory of the selfish-gene narrative trumpeted by such aggressive journalistic minds as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, with more mastery of English than probability theory. He shows that local properties fail and the so-called mathematics used to prove the selfish gene are woefully naive and misplaced. There has been a storm around work by Martin Nowack and his colleagues (which include the biologist E. O. Wilson) about the terminal flaws in the selfish gene theory.fn2
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life)
What is man? After posing the last of these questions, the eminent zoologist G. G. Simpson put it thus: ‘The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
اگر یک زیست‌شناس دریایی گونه‌ای دلفین را کشف می‌کرد که می‌توانست شبکه توری پیچیده و بزرگی برای ماهیگیری ببافد که قطرش بیست برابر طول خود دلفین بود، با چه غوغایی مطرح می‌شد! بااین‌حال ما تارعنکبوت را یک‌چیز مسلم و بیشتر مایه مزاحمت در نظر می‌گیریم تا یکی از شگفتی‌های عالم.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The genes are master programmers, and they are programming for their lives. They are judged according to the success of their programs in coping with all the hazards that life throws at their survival machines, and the judge is the ruthless judge of the court of survival.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
If a group of atoms in the presence of energy falls into a stable pattern it will tend to stay that way. The earliest form of natural selection was simply a selection of stable forms and a rejection of unstable ones. There is no mystery about this. It had to happen by definition. From this, of course, it does not follow that you can explain the existence of entities as complex as man by exactly the same principles on their own. It is no good taking the right number of atoms and shaking them together with some external energy till they happen to fall into the right pattern, and out drops Adam!
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Civilization”, and everything that characterizes cities as artificial shelters from nature, works in opposition to the nonhuman environment’s ability to inflict natural selection. While the logical corollary of ending natural selection among humans is the equal valuation of each individual, moral treatment of each individual as an end, as opposed to a slave or a means, works against the selfish gene. While the selfish gene views an individual organism as only a means of perpetuating itself, Biblical-modern valuation of individuals as ends in themselves “in the eyes of God” works like a monkeywrench in the gene machine.
Mitchell Heisman (Suicide Note)
Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives. It may just be more difficult to learn altruism than it would be if we were genetically programmed to be altruistic. Among animals, man is uniquely dominated by culture, by influences learned and handed down.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
But he was thankful for the offer and dimly he was beginning to formulate in his mind the feeling that the world is made up of good people and bad people, of selfish people and thoughtful people, of cruel people and kind people, and it was merely a case of luck as to which kind you met when you went on a great adventure.
Gene Stratton-Porter (The Keeper of the Bees)
The workings of the sensory systems are particularly baffling, because they can achieve far more sophisticated feats of pattern-recognition than the best and most expensive man-made machines; if this were not so, all typists would be redundant, superseded by speech-recognizing machines, or machines for reading handwriting.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
So, the question is: If greenflies and elm trees don’t do it, why do the rest of us go to such lengths to mix our genes up with somebody else’s before we make a baby? It does seem an odd way to proceed. Why did sex, that bizarre perversion of straightforward replication, ever arise in the first place? What is the good of sex?*
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Animals therefore go to elaborate lengths to find and catch food; to avoid being caught and eaten themselves; to avoid disease and accident; to protect themselves from unfavourable climatic conditions; to find members of the opposite sex and persuade them to mate; and to confer on their children advantages similar to those they enjoy themselves.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Natural selection favours those genes that manipulate the world to ensure their own propagation. This leads to what I have called 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.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
We can change our habits. We needn’t be at the mercy of thoughts like ‘that’s just my personality’ or ‘it’s in my genes so there’s nothing I can do about it’. Negative habits can be replaced with positive ones, selfish ones with kind ones, suspicion with trust, hostility with empathy and complaints with gratitude. – David R. Hamilton, Why Kindness is Good for You
Om Swami (The Book of Kindness: How to Make Others Happy and Be Happy Yourself)
The sight of her child smiling, or the sound of her kitten purring, is rewarding to a mother, in the same sense as food in the stomach is rewarding to a rat in a maze. But once it becomes true that a sweet smile or a loud purr are rewarding, the child is in a position to use the smile or the purr in order to manipulate the parent, and gain more than its fair share of parental investment.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A gene is not indivisible, but it is seldom divided. It is either definitely present or definitely absent in the body of any given individual. A gene travels intact from grandparent to grandchild, passing straight through the intermediate generation without being merged with other genes. If genes continually blended with each other, natural selection as we now understand it would be impossible.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
a group, such as a species or a population within a species, whose individual members are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the group, may be less likely to go extinct than a rival group whose individual members place their own selfish interests first. Therefore the world becomes populated mainly by groups consisting of self-sacrificing individuals. This is the theory of ‘group selection’,
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Consider again the mated pair with which we began the chapter. Both partners, as selfish machines, ‘want’ sons and daughters in equal numbers. To this extent they agree. Where they disagree is in who is going to bear the brunt of the cost of rearing each one of those children. Each individual wants as many surviving children as possible. The less he or she is obliged to invest in any one of those children, the more children he or she can have. The obvious way to achieve this desirable state of affairs is to induce your sexual partner to invest more than his or her fair share of resources in each child, leaving you free to have other children with other partners. This would be a desirable strategy for either sex, but it is more difficult for the female to achieve. Since she starts by investing more than the male, in the form of her large, food-rich egg, a mother is already at the moment of conception ‘committed’ to each child more deeply than the father is. She stands to lose more if the child dies than the father does. More to the point, she would have to invest more than the father in the future in order to bring a new substitute child up to the same level of development. If she tried the tactic of leaving the father holding the baby, while she went off with another male, the father might, at relatively small cost to himself, retaliate by abandoning the baby too. Therefore, at least in the early stages of child development, if any abandoning is going to be done, it is likely to be the father who abandons the mother rather than the other way around. Similarly, females can be expected to invest more in children than males, not only at the outset, but throughout development. So, in mammals for example, it is the female who incubates the foetus in her own body, the female who makes the milk to suckle it when it is born, the female who bears the brunt of the load of bringing it up and protecting it. The female sex is exploited, and the fundamental evolutionary basis for the exploitation is the fact that eggs are larger than sperms.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Species are grouped together into genera, genera into orders, and orders into classes. Lions and antelopes are both members of the class Mammalia, as are we. Should we then not expect lions to refrain from killing antelopes, ‘for the good of the mammals’? Surely they should hunt birds or reptiles instead, in order to prevent the extinction of the class. But then, what of the need to perpetuate the whole phylum of vertebrates?
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
In terms of the analogy, suppose an ideally balanced crew would consist of four right-handers and four left-handers. Once again assume that the coach, unaware of this fact, selects blindly on ‘merit’. Now if the pool of candidates happens to be dominated by right-handers, any individual left-hander will tend to be at an advantage: he is likely to cause any boat in which he finds himself to win, and he will therefore appear to be a good oarsman.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
A replicator is anything in the universe of which copies are made. Replicators come into existence, in the first place, by chance, by the random jostling of smaller particles. Once a replicator has come into existence it is capable of generating an indefinitely large set of copies of itself. No copying process is perfect, however, and the population of replicators comes to include varieties that differ from one another. Some of these varieties turn out to have lost the power of self-replication, and their kind ceases to exist when they themselves cease to exist. Others can still replicate, but less effectively. Yet other varieties happen to find themselves in possession of new tricks: they turn out to be even better self-replicators than their predecessors and contemporaries. It is their descendants that come to dominate the population. As time goes by, the world becomes filled with the most powerful and ingenious replicators. Gradually, more and more elaborate ways of being a good replicator are discovered. Replicators survive, not only by virtue of their own intrinsic properties, but by virtue of their consequences on the world. These consequences can be quite indirect. All that is necessary is that eventually the consequences, however tortuous and indirect, feed back and affect the success of the replicator at getting itself copied.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Oh, do you, Milo? You’re so selfish. You don’t see the bigger picture.” “What’s the bigger picture?” “You’re still here looking for handouts. Who’s going to take care of me?” “I’m on my knees here, Mom. Not for me, for my family. For my wife. For a beautiful grandson you have totally ignored.” “He’s kind of a brat. I’ll be in his life when he gets a little impulse control.” “He’s not even four.” “I have needs. I’m tired of this child-worshipping culture. You’re just a slave to it, Milo.” “I’m only trying to be a decent dad.” “Don’t waste your time. It’s not in your genes. Besides, try making some money. That might be a good dad move. For heaven’s sake, the system’s rigged for white men and you still can’t tap in.” “You’re right, Mom. What can I say? But still, it would mean a lot to me if you made a little more of an effort with Bernie.” “Bernie schmernie. This is my decade.” “Okay, you wrinkled old spidercunt, have it your way.
Sam Lipsyte (The Ask)
An apparently altruistic act is one that looks, superficially, as if it must tend to make the altruist more likely (however slightly) to die, and the recipient more likely to survive. It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfishness in disguise. Once again, I do not mean that the underlying motives are secretly selfish, but that the real effects of the act on survival prospects are the reverse of what we originally thought.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Fig trees and fig wasps share an intimate cooperative relationship. The fig that you eat is not really a fruit. There is a tiny hole at the end, and if you go into this hole (you’d have to be as small as a fig wasp to do so, and they are minute: thankfully too small to notice when you eat a fig), you find hundreds of tiny flowers lining the walls. The fig is a dark indoor hothouse for flowers, an indoor pollination chamber. And the only agents that can do the pollinating are fig wasps.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The welfare state is perhaps the greatest altruistic system the animal kingdom has ever known. But any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it. Individual humans who have more children than they are capable of rearing are probably too ignorant in most cases to be accused of conscious malevolent exploitation. Powerful institutions and leaders who deliberately encourage them to do so seem to me less free from suspicion.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
It is possible for humans to enter into pacts or conspiracies that are to every individual’s advantage, even if these are not stable in the ESS sense. But this is only possible because every individual uses his conscious foresight, and is able to see that it is in his own long-term interests to obey the rules of the pact. Even in human pacts there is a constant danger that individuals will stand to gain so much in the short term by breaking the pact that the temptation to do so will be overwhelming.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Perhaps we should rejoice that people’s emotions aren’t designed for the good of the group. Often the best way to benefit one’s group is to displace, subjugate, or annihilate the group next door. Ants in a colony are closely related, and each is a paragon of unselfishness. That’s why ants are one of the few kinds of animal that wage war and take slaves. When human leaders have manipulated or coerced people into submerging their interests into the group’s, the outcomes are some of the history’s worst atrocities.
Steven Pinker (How the Mind Works)
In its long journey down the generations therefore, an average gene will spend approximately half its time sitting in male bodies, and the other half sitting in female bodies. Some gene effects show themselves only in bodies of one sex. These are called sex-limited gene effects. A gene controlling penis-length expresses this effect only in male bodies, but it is carried about in female bodies too and may have some quite different effect on female bodies. There is no reason why a man should not inherit a tendency to develop a long penis from his mother.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The book of nature is like the Bible: Everyone reads into it what they want, from tolerance to intolerance, and from altruism to greed. It’s good to realize, though, that if biologists never stop talking of competition, this doesn’t mean they advocate it, and if they call genes selfish, this doesn’t mean that genes actually are. Genes can’t be any more “selfish” than a river can be “angry,” or sun rays “loving.” Genes are little chunks of DNA. At most, they are “self-promoting,” because successful genes help their carriers spread more copies of themselves.
Frans de Waal
The living world is not the harsh domain of classical Darwinism, where each struggle against all, with every species, every organism and every gene competing for advantage against every other. Organisms are not skin-enclosed selfish entities, and competition is never unfettered. Life evolves, as does the universe itself, in a 'sacred dance' with an underlying field. This makes living beings into elements in a vast network of intimate relations that embraces the entire biosphere itself an interconnected element within the wider connections that reach into the cosmos.
alexis karpouzos (NON-DUALITY: THE PARTICIPATORY UNIVERSE)
Whenever a system of communication evolves, there is always the danger that some will exploit the system for their own ends. Brought up as we have been on the ‘good of the species’ view of evolution, we naturally think first of liars and deceivers as belonging to different species: predators, prey, parasites, and so on. However, we must expect lies and deceit, and selfish exploitation of communication to arise whenever the interests of the genes of different individuals diverge. This will include individuals of the same species. As we shall see, we must even expect that children will deceive their parents, that husbands will cheat on wives, and that brother will lie to brother.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The fundamental units of natural selection, the basic things that survive or fail to survive, that form lineages of identical copies with occasional random mutations, are called replicators. DNA molecules are replicators. They generally, for reasons that we shall come to, gang together into large communal survival machines or ‘vehicles’. The vehicles that we know best are individual bodies like our own. A body, then, is not a replicator; it is a vehicle. I must emphasize this, since the point has been misunderstood. Vehicles don’t replicate themselves; they work to propagate their replicators. Replicators don’t behave, don’t perceive the world, don’t catch prey or run away from predators; they make vehicles that do all those things.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
in order for a behaviour pattern—altruistic or selfish—to evolve, it is necessary that a gene ‘for’ that behaviour should survive in the gene pool more successfully than a rival gene or allele ‘for’ some different behaviour. A gene for altruistic behaviour means any gene that influences the development of nervous systems in such a way as to make them likely to behave altruistically.* Is there any experimental evidence for the genetic inheritance of altruistic behaviour? No, but that is hardly surprising, since little work has been done on the genetics of any behaviour. Instead, let me tell you about one study of a behaviour pattern which does not happen to be obviously altruistic, but which is complex enough to be interesting. It serves as a model for how altruistic behaviour might be inherited.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing your career, and still spending quality time with your family and friends. If you neglect your health or your career, you slip into the second category—stupid—which is a short slide to becoming a burden on society. I blame society for the sad state of adult fitness in the Western world. We’re raised to believe that giving of ourselves is noble and good. If you’re religious, you might have twice as much pressure to be unselfish. All our lives we are told it’s better to give than to receive. We’re programmed for unselfish behavior by society, our parents, and even our genes to some extent. The problem is that our obsession with generosity causes people to think in the short term. We skip exercise to spend an extra hour helping at home. We buy fast food to save time to help a coworker with a problem. At every turn, we cheat our own future to appear generous today. So how can you make the right long-term choices for yourself, thus being a benefit to others in the long run, without looking like a selfish turd in your daily choices? There’s no instant cure, but a step in the right direction involves the power of permission. I’m giving you permission to take care of yourself first, so you can do a better job of being generous in the long run. What? You might be wondering how a cartoonist’s permission to be selfish can help in any way. The surprising answer is that it can, in my opinion. If you’ve read this far, we have a relationship of sorts. It’s an author-reader relationship, but that’s good enough.
Scott Adams (How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life)
What has all this to do with altruism and selfishness? I am trying to build up the idea that animal behaviour, altruistic or selfish, is under the control of genes in only an indirect, but still very powerful, sense. By dictating the way survival machines and their nervous systems are built, genes exert ultimate power over behaviour. But the moment-to-moment decisions about what to do next are taken by the nervous system. Genes are the primary policy-makers; brains are the executives. But as brains became more highly developed, they took over more and more of the actual policy decisions, using tricks like learning and simulation in doing so. The logical conclusion to this trend, not yet reached in any species, would be for the genes to give the survival machine a single overall policy instruction: do whatever you think best to keep us alive.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
One feature of our own society that seems decidedly anomalous is the matter of sexual advertisement, As we have seen, it is strongly to be expected on evolutionary grounds that, where the sexes differ, it should be the males that advertise and the females that are drab. Modern western man is undoubtedly exceptional in this respect. It is of course true that some men dress flamboyantly and some women dress drably but, on average, there can be no doubt that in our society the equivalent of the peacock's tail is exhibited by the female, not by the male. Women paint their faces and glue on false eyelashes. Apart from special cases, like actors, men do not. Women seem to be interested in their own personal appearance and are encouraged in this by their magazines and journals. Men's magazines are less preoccupied with male sexual attractiveness, and a man who is unusually interested in his own dress and appearance is apt to arouse suspicion, both among men and among women. When a woman is described in conversation, it is quite likely that her sexual attractiveness, or lack of it, will be prominently mentioned. This is true, whether the speaker is a man or a woman. When a man is described, the adjectives used are much more likely to have nothing to do with sex. Faced with these facts, a biologist would be forced to suspect that he was looking at a society in which females compete for males, rather than vice versa. In the case of birds of paradise, we decided that females are drab because they do not need to compete for males. Males are bright and ostentatious because females are in demand and can afford to be choosy. The reason female birds of paradise are in demand is that eggs are a more scarce resource than sperms. What has happened in modern western man? Has the male really become the sought-after sex, the one that is in demand, the sex that can afford to be choosy? If so, why?
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)
Suppose you entered a boat race. One hundred rowers, each in a separate rowboat, set out on a ten-mile race along a wide and slow-moving river. The first to cross the finish line will win $10,000. Halfway into the race, you’re in the lead. But then, from out of nowhere, you’re passed by a boat with two rowers, each pulling just one oar. No fair! Two rowers joined together into one boat! And then, stranger still, you watch as that rowboat is overtaken by a train of three such rowboats, all tied together to form a single long boat. The rowers are identical septuplets. Six of them row in perfect synchrony while the seventh is the coxswain, steering the boat and calling out the beat for the rowers. But those cheaters are deprived of victory just before they cross the finish line, for they in turn are passed by an enterprising group of twenty-four sisters who rented a motorboat. It turns out that there are no rules in this race about what kinds of vehicles are allowed. That was a metaphorical history of life on Earth. For the first billion years or so of life, the only organisms were prokaryotic cells (such as bacteria). Each was a solo operation, competing with others and reproducing copies of itself. But then, around 2 billion years ago, two bacteria somehow joined together inside a single membrane, which explains why mitochondria have their own DNA, unrelated to the DNA in the nucleus.35 These are the two-person rowboats in my example. Cells that had internal organelles could reap the benefits of cooperation and the division of labor (see Adam Smith). There was no longer any competition between these organelles, for they could reproduce only when the entire cell reproduced, so it was “one for all, all for one.” Life on Earth underwent what biologists call a “major transition.”36 Natural selection went on as it always had, but now there was a radically new kind of creature to be selected. There was a new kind of vehicle by which selfish genes could replicate themselves. Single-celled eukaryotes were wildly successful and spread throughout the oceans.
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
A few hundred million years later, some of these eukaryotes developed a novel adaptation: they stayed together after cell division to form multicellular organisms in which every cell had exactly the same genes. These are the three-boat septuplets in my example. Once again, competition is suppressed (because each cell can only reproduce if the organism reproduces, via its sperm or egg cells). A group of cells becomes an individual, able to divide labor among the cells (which specialize into limbs and organs). A powerful new kind of vehicle appears, and in a short span of time the world is covered with plants, animals, and fungi.37 It’s another major transition. Major transitions are rare. The biologists John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry count just eight clear examples over the last 4 billion years (the last of which is human societies).38 But these transitions are among the most important events in biological history, and they are examples of multilevel selection at work. It’s the same story over and over again: Whenever a way is found to suppress free riding so that individual units can cooperate, work as a team, and divide labor, selection at the lower level becomes less important, selection at the higher level becomes more powerful, and that higher-level selection favors the most cohesive superorganisms.39 (A superorganism is an organism made out of smaller organisms.) As these superorganisms proliferate, they begin to compete with each other, and to evolve for greater success in that competition. This competition among superorganisms is one form of group selection.40 There is variation among the groups, and the fittest groups pass on their traits to future generations of groups. Major transitions may be rare, but when they happen, the Earth often changes.41 Just look at what happened more than 100 million years ago when some wasps developed the trick of dividing labor between a queen (who lays all the eggs) and several kinds of workers who maintain the nest and bring back food to share. This trick was discovered by the early hymenoptera (members of the order that includes wasps, which gave rise to bees and ants) and it was discovered independently several dozen other times (by the ancestors of termites, naked mole rats, and some species of shrimp, aphids, beetles, and spiders).42 In each case, the free rider problem was surmounted and selfish genes began to craft relatively selfless group members who together constituted a supremely selfish group.
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
So enticing is the red gape of a cuckoo nestling that it is not uncommon for ornithologists to see a bird dropping food into the mouth of a baby cuckoo sitting in some other bird's nest! A bird may be flying home, carrying food for its own young. Suddenly, out of the corner of its eye, it sees the red super-gape of a young cuckoo, in the nest of a bird of some quite different species. It is diverted to the alien nest where it drops into the cuckoo's mouth the food that had been destined for its own young. The 'irresistibility theory' fits with the views of early German ornithologists who referred to foster-parents as behaving like 'addicts' and to the cuckoo nestling as their 'vice'. It is only fair to add that this kind of language finds less favour with some modern experimenters. But there's no doubt that if we do assume that the cuckoo's gape is a powerful drug-like super-stimulus, it becomes very much easier to explain what is going on. It becomes easier to sympathize with the behaviour of the diminutive parent standing on the back of its monstrous child. It is not being stupid. 'Fooled' is the wrong word to use. Its nervous system is being controlled, as irresistibly as if it were a helpless drug addict, or as if the cuckoo were a scientist plugging electrodes into its brain.
Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene)