The Selfish Gene

Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene



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In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins presents his evolutionary vision of life, which identifies genes, rather than in people or in species, as the real protagonist of natural selection. In this wonderful and enlightening book, Dawkins provides numerous real-life examples to illustrate how genes are basically selfish, and how the unselfish behaviour of human beings is actually an expression of the selfishness of their genes. 

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Analysis and key concepts


Genes are the foundation upon which the entire phenomenon of evolution is based


Only a limited quantity of genes can be transmitted through the process of reproduction. So genes are “selfish” by definition, because they work to do anything they can to survive at the expense of other genes


The environment in which genes live is extremely important in determining their survival


Generally speaking, genes are “selfish”, but those present within a single organism work together because they share a procreative mechanism which is essential to their replication and reproduction


The altruistic behaviour of living beings is in fact an expression of the selfishness of their genes


Perhaps humans will manage to achieve a genuine level of altruism that benefits them and the rest of the planet




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Get a better understanding of natural evolution.
  • Understand the pivotal role of the genome in the development of life.
  • Examine the topics of altruism, selfishness, conflict, and cooperation from a scientific and evolutionistic standpoint.

Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi in March 1941. He is a British evolutionary biologist, popular-science writer, essayist, and activist, and is considered one of the greatest advocates of the current interpretation of Neo-Darwinism in the contemporary era. He has published several books, and his articles have appeared in countless scientific journals. He also founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation, whose mission is to promote scientific literature, and a vision of the world based on far-sightedness through the centuries.

Publishing house:

Oxford University Press