The meaning of the book “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins: everything is built on genes and there is no place for individuality

In recent years, quite a lot of popular science books have been published that tell people who are far from the environment of inventors and scientists about discoveries in important areas in an understandable and accessible language. Today we are going to look at just such a book.

We will talk about the meaning of the book “The Selfish Gene” by British biologist Richard Dawkins. So sit back, it will be interesting!

Briefly about the book

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Richard Dawkins is a PhD, biologist and zoologist. The Briton devoted most of his life to the popularization of science, published more than a dozen articles, books and notes in areas competent for himself.

The Selfish Gene is a book about the biological evolution of species on Earth, first published by Dawkins in 1976. Since that time, the book has been reprinted many times, the facts given in it have been updated.

The main idea of ​​the book is the predominance of genes in the issue of evolution. If you like, a gene-centric view, which Dawkins himself adheres to when considering evolutionary processes.

The meaning of the book

The first thought that comes to your mind after reading the book “The Selfish Gene” is something along the lines of “ahh, now everything in biology and evolution is clear to me, and there is nothing complicated with these genes.” But no, believe me, you absolutely do not understand anything in this area.

book cover of The Selfish GenePhoto:

Dawkins’ book is popular science, which leaves its mark on the story. The author intentionally writes in a persuasive and assertive manner, as it should be, in extremely simplified language so that all readers get the point.

And the bottom line is just that genes prevail over other factors when considering the evolution of organisms, species and classes.

However, it is important to understand that many of Dawkins’s points published in his book are not facts or theories based on some kind of research. No, at best, we are talking about witty theories. It is clear that the biologist did not have the goal of purely scientifically talking about evolutionary processes, genes or phenotypes. Therefore, understand that it is better not to take everything read at face value.

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The Selfish Gene really tells the basics that every person should know. And the author of this article really believes that most of the theories expressed here will soon be confirmed experimentally. After all, since the formation of genetics as a field of science, scientists have already learned a lot about them.

It is also important to understand that inconsistencies, contradictions and the statement of different theories-hypotheses are normal for a living and actively developing science. So in the work of Dawkins there is no sedition, from which you must immediately disown.

The main point of the book is the prevalence of natural selection of genes over the level of individuals or populations. That is, the most powerful species are such, because in the process of evolution they received genes of better quality and adapted to external conditions, and not just were able to displace less powerful opponents from better territories.

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Dawkins tells us that the evolution of individuals and species, as such, does not exist, because everything first occurs in the genes, and the change in living beings is nothing more than a consequence of already completed processes.

An interesting theory is also put forward that in certain species, better individuals are automatically selected for reproduction, capable of transmitting genetic material to descendants. Other individuals play the role of defenders, deliberately depriving themselves of the right and the very opportunity to produce offspring. For example, insects have such an architecture.

In general, the theory that genes underlie everything is not new. However, Dawkins managed to popularize this point of view, and convey to a large number of readers fair and a number of dubious hypotheses.

This concludes our analysis. If you have any questions or suggestions, be sure to write them in the comments. and we have prepared for you some equally interesting analyzes. From them:

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The meaning of the book “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green: how love makes a person sacrifice himself

The meaning of the book “God as an illusion” by Richard Dawkins: how a religious atheist hit biology and the origin of man

And that’s all we have for sure. So see you soon on the pages of new articles, peaceful sky above your head.

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