The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins pdf
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. 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?’ Living oiganisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them.
His name was Charles Darwin. To be fair, others had had inklings of the truth, but it was Darwin who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. Darwin made it possible for us to give a sensible answer to the curious child whose question heads this chapter. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for’? 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.’
Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin’s revolution have yet to be widely realized. 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. No doubt this will change in time. In any case, this book is not intended as a general advocacy of Darwinism.
Instead, it will explore the consequences of the evolution theory for a particular issue. My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism.
Introduction to 30th anniversary edition
Preface to second edition
Foreword to first edition
Preface to first edition
1. Why are people?
2. The replicators
3. Immortal coils
4. The gene machine
5. Aggression: stability and the selfish machine
7. Family planning
8. Battle of the generations
9. Battle of the sexes
10. You scratch my back. I’ll ride on yours
11. Mernes: the new replicators
12. Nice guys finish first
13 The long reach of the gene
Index and key to bibliography
Extracts from review’s