Sociology Index

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 do.” - Richard Dawkins. The Selfish Gene helps students understand evolution and behavior in ways they didn't before. The Selfish Gene is well-written and allows students to think in evolutionary terms. Inheriting the mantle of revolutionary biologist from Darwin, Watson, and Crick, Richard Dawkins forced an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world with the publication of The Selfish Gene.

Richard Dawkins also introduced the concept of self-reproducing ideas, or memes, which use humans exclusively for their propagation. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we had since Mendel's work was rediscovered, we turn it around and imagine that "our" genes build and maintain us in order to make more genes.

Why are there miles and miles of "unused" DNA within each of our bodies? Why should a bee give up its own chance to reproduce to help raise her sisters and brothers? Dawkins told us the answers from the perspective of molecules competing for limited space and resources to produce more of their own kind. Dawkins paved the way for a serious re-evaluation of evolution.

"Dawkins first book, The Selfish Gene, was a smash hit...Best of all, Dawkins laid out this biology-some of it truly subtle-in stunningly lucid prose." - New York Review of Books.

"This important book The Selfish Gene could hardly be more exciting." - The Economist.

"The Selfish Gene is the sort of popular science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius." - New York Times.

"Who should read The Selfish Gene? Everyone interested in the universe and their place in it." - Jeffrey R. Baylis, Animal Behavior.

"The Selfish Gene should be read, can be read, by almost everyone. It describes with great skill a new face of the theory of evolution." - W. D. Hamilton, Science.

The presentations in the book The Selfish Gene are remarkable for their clarity and simplicity, intelligible to any schoolchild, yet so little condescending as to be a pleasure to the professional." - American Scientist.