Book review 4) The Selfish Gene

last week I finished the book Selfish Gene, here is the review.

Book: The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

Genre: Science

Pages: 224 (the edition above has more)

Rating: 9.5/10

When I wrote about the Origin of Species, Gaurish wrote that I will surely like Dawkins too, and I did indeed!

The main thought of this book is the importance of gene in evolution rather than the organism. Why? Because organisms die after certain time but genes are passed on if the organisms were succesful. I like how Dawkins calls these organisms like us, plants or insects or anything that carries DNA, “Survival machines”.

We are nothing more than a survival machines that was designed by the genes inside. We are just vehicles to help the genes to be passed on. If the genes are unsuccesful in designing good machine that will reproduce, they will die, but the important difference is that Darwin thought only about organisms whole, but here the main characters are strictly genes.

The book is really phenomenal, I love how there are lot of examples to various organisms and I have not been lost through whole story, and it really is a good story.

The reason why I did not give it full rating is that there could be more pictures while I understand that the edition I had was released in 1989.

In this book Dawkins also explains altruism and selfishness. As he says, altruism does not really exist, genes are always selfish and are trying to spread as much as possible. Your body can “know” that some one else has the same gene as you, then it is important for the gene to protect also the other person and this can look like altruism.[1]

I really recommend this one, right now I am reading The Blind Watchmaker again by Dawkins and as I write this The Extended Phenotype lies on my desk so I will continue with them.


PS: I decided to try to write post every other day so look for another one on Wednesday.

[1]This was quite simplified, read the book if you want to get the detail or wait for some post where I will explain it!

27 thoughts on “Book review 4) The Selfish Gene

  1. Dawkins is an interesting figure. I don’t agree with his views entirely but he’s certainly one of the few people to redefine some of the terms of evolutionary argument. Another was Ernst Mayr whose views are a bit dated now but are mostly still valid and were influential at the time. The problem with all of them is that I have yet to see a theorist who properly understands how their thinking is framed by industrial-age philosophy. A lot of the argument over the role of altruism in evolution seems to flow from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Dawkins is kind of radical when it gets to the question of God. Do you think so? Though I am not much skilled in philosophy and actually never heard it to be connected with industrial age (though what is not connected to industrial age right?)


      • The issue with industrial age thinking is that it polarised prior frameworks around ideas of altruism and selfishness. That was in part a function of the way the industrial economy emerged, coupled with period attitudes. The outcome was the idea that by default people always but self first. It got infused into popular thinking about evolution through misconceptions of Darwin, though Darwin never said what was usually attributed to him.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This review makes me want to check out the book, thank you. Sounds very interesting.. the book and the interest. I find Metaphysics and Philosophy very interesting and this is probably not the same at all but the idea of a selfish gene makes me think of the virtue of selfishness. I think I’ll read the book and I’ll know for sure. I may be sounding rather daft right now. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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