The Selfish Gene

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The Selfish Gene

"We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve selfish

molecules known as genes."

-- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1).

Can genes alone determine your DNA's place in the next generation? Are humans simply vessels for these genes?

With his provoking work entitled The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins attempts to answer such questions as he proposes a shift in the evolutionary paradigm. Working through the metaphor of a "selfish gene", Dawkins constructs an evolutionary model using a gene as the fundamental unit of selection, opposed to the more commonly accepted belief of the species as the unit of selection.

This "selfish gene", possessing a certain selfish emotional nature, acts as an independent entity fighting to ensure its replication in future generations, maximizing its number of descendents (2). Those successful in replicating have made the most of their given environment (1). For the interests of this paper, is it valid to assume that natural selection occurs at the level of DNA? Hence, what can be implied about genetic predispositions?

For Dawkins, evolution of a species is dependent upon the transmittance of this information to the next generation; the individual species is irrelevant (2). This theory is a departure from Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which concentrates on the species. Species, to Dawkins, are "survival machines" whose purpose is to host these genes, as species are mortals and fleeting, whereas genes are not (2).

Is it valid to assume Dawkins position that humans are merely "robot vehicles"? This concept, alienating emotion, physical, and cultural growth from evolution, can be startling. By placing the importance of natural selec...

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... , The opening pages of and selections from Dawkins work<br>/Work/Books/selfpage.htm

2)The Selfish Gene Theory, Explanatory site providing overview of theory

3) The Selfish Gene?" Reason in Revolt , Genetic issues and Dawkins discussed

Works Consulted

4) In Defense of Selfish Genes , Dawkins refute to claims made about his theory by Mary Midgely

5) Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism , Counterarguments for Selfish Gene Theory

6) The Selfish Gene: The Underpinnings of Narcissism , Further discussion and implications on Selfish Gene Theory

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