Richard Dawkins
RICHARD DAWKINS   Macroknow Library

The Selfish Gene.

"Evolution works by natural selection, and natural selection means the differential survival of the 'fittest'."1a DARWIN

". . . [T]he fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even, strictly, the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity."1b SCHRODINGER

"Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' is really a special case of a more general law of survival of the stable. The universe is populated by stable things. A stable thing is a collection of atoms that is permanent enough or common enough to deserve a name."1c DARWIN

"The DNA can be regarded as a set of instructions for how to make a body, written in the A, T, C, G alphabet of the nucleotides. . . The DNA instructions have been assembled by natural selection."1d WATSON

"A gene is defined as any portion of chromosomal material that potentially last for enough generations to serve as a unit of natural selection. . . a gene is a replicator with high copying-fidelity."1e SCHRODINGER

"The gene is the basic unit of selfishness."1f

"A 'strategy' is a pre-programmed behavioural policy. An example of a strategy is: 'Attack opponent; if he flees pursue him; if he retaliates run away.' . . .
An evolutionary stable strategy or ESS is defined as a strategy which, if most members of a population adopt it,
cannot be bettered by an alternative strategy.

"Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation."1h MEDAWAR

"Natural selection favours those genes that manipulate the world to ensure their own propagation. This leads to what I have called the Central Theorem of the Extended Phenotype: An animal's behaviour tends to maximize the survival of the genes 'for' that behaviour, whether or not those genes happen to be in the body of the particular animal performing it. . . the theorem could apply .. . . -- to anything."1i

"A body . . . is not a replicator; it is a vehicle. . . Vehicles don't replicate themselves; they work to propagate their replicators. Replicators don't behave, don't perceive the world, don't catch prey or run away from predators; they make vehicles that do all those things."1j

"The only kind of entity that has to exist in order for life to arise, anywhere in the universe, is the immortal replicator."1k

The God Delusion.

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. . . Thomas Jefferson . . ., was of a similar opinion, describing the God of Moses as '; being of terrific character -- cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust'."2a OLD TESTAMENT GNOSTICS

"Well, there's no denying that, from a moral point of view, Jesus is a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament. . ."


* Italics in the original.

1 Richard Dawkins. The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins, 1989. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006 (30th anniversary edition).
a 1. Why Are People?, at 7.
b Ibid., at 11.
2. The Replicators, at 12.
d 3. Immortal Coils, at 22-23.
e Ibid., at 28.
f Ibid., at 36.
g Aggression: Stability and the Selfish Machine, at 69.
h 11. Memes: The New Replicators, at 192.
i 13. The Long Reach of the Gene, at 253.
j Ibid., at 254.
Ibid., at 266.

2 Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins, 2006, 2008 New York NY: Mariner Books; Houghton Mifflin Company.
a 2. The God Hypothesis, at 51.
b 7. The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist, at 283.