'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins.
   

 

Program A Robot:
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. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it. On of my hopes is that I may have some success in astonishing others. -- Richard Dawkins

I want to bring Dawkins' views to a wider readership. His explanations of the role a 'gene' plays in reproduction and especially future evolution may not have profound reprocussions on the operations of those who would 'control' animals, minerals and/or people for their own selfish gains. But Dawkins' explanations ought to point thinking folks toward reality -- that no supernatural man or ghost is going to dissolve our difficulties in this life or sluff off grievances by promising a sweeter life after death. -- Naomi Sherer

Zoology is still a minority subject in universities, and even those who choose to study it often make their decision without appreciating its profound philosophical significance. Philosophy and the subjects known as 'humanities' are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived. -- Richard Dawkins

Philosophy as discussed by people I know is too 'hung up' on puritanic religion which shaped the glut of supernatural beliefs developed in the USA.

And 'hung up' is the operating term. A woman became incensed when I mentioned that humans are another animal species. She could not stand to be equated with neighborhood dogs copulating in the street. We have become 'hung up' on sex so we pervert and prevent it. All because some ancient pundit agonized over his lack of control in his passion for women and in denying his part, placed the total blame on women, by creating original sin. -- Naomi Sherer

Upset The Applecart
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.

Let us understand what our 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 folks who are already working at that might be more effective if they gain the basic understanding from Dawkins descriptions of how the building blocks of life work. Unfortunately many of those dedicated workers are paid their living salary by the various religious institutions that have brainwashed them into avoiding the very understanding they need. -- Naomi Sherer

Domination Is Tyranny
Among animals, man is uniquely dominated by culture, by influences learned and handed down. Some would say that culture is so important that genes, whether selfish or not, are virtually irrelevant to the understanding of human nature. Others would disagree. It all depends where you stand in the debate over 'nature versus nurture' as determinants of human attributes. -- Richard Dawkins

The culture in the USA is one that is influenced by multi-cultures from foreigners. Originally it was founded on tolerance, deliberately avoiding entanglement of government and religion. That history is consistently being rewritten and influenced, first solely by papists, now wedded to an insidiously fascist cult of fundamentalist christians. In South American countries, the pope makes no secret of keeping people in poverty and ignorance. -- Naomi Sherer

Are Offspring An Endall?
Mantises are large carnivorous insects...If the female gets the chance she will eat him...It might seem most sensible for her to wait until copulation is over before she starts to eat him. But the loss of the head does not seem to throw the rest of the male's body off its sexual stride. Indeed, since the insect head is the seat of some inhibitory nerve centers, it is possible that the female improves the male's sexual performance by eating his head. -- Richard Dawkins

This habit by female insects must be the origin of the expression: 'Don't bite my head off.' Interesting to say the least, if a female figuratively bites off a conspirator's head to intensify sexual competence! -- Naomi Sherer

Life Is Here And Now
My feeling now is that not only are some individual organisms better at surviving than others; whole classes of organisms may be better at evolving than others. Of course, the evolving that we are talking about here is still the same old evolution, mediated via selection on genes.

Mutations are still favoured because of their impact on the survival and reproductive success of individuals. But a major new mutation in basic embryological plan can also open up new floodgates of radiating evolution for millions of years to come. There can be a kind of higher-level selection for embryologies that lend themselves to evolution: a selection in favour of evolvability. This kind of selection may even be cumulative and therefore progressive, in ways that group selection is not. These ideas are spelt out in my paper 'The Evolution of Evolvability', which was largely inspired by playing with Blind Watchmaker, a computer program simulating aspects of evolution. -- Richard Dawkins

During the height of nuclear weapon expansion, the best expressed fear was one of total annihilation of life on earth. And we should have a care as to where the future lies. But which life forms continue or becomes extinct is probably not what individuals have in mind when they pile up holdings for posterity but they give up all control to 'The Selfish Gene.'

Read it and be enlightened as well as astonished! -- Naomi Sherer

The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 1990

   
 

Copyright 1997 Naomi Sherer - All Rights Reserved

 

 

 


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