Are we selfish by default?

(Book review of Richard Dawkins` ‘The Selfish Gene’
Rating: 3.5/5

Genetically humans are born selfish to prevent their species from extinction and survive natural selection.

If you wonder, why is there so much evil in this world? Unfortunately, the selfish always beat the altruists. That’s why it’s called survival of the fittest, not the kindest.

Considering this, altruism must be taught. It has nothing to do with justice, but the genes are just doing their main job. It’s contrary to the popular belief that all humans are genuinely kind, right? However, this is what science says.

But even though this is a science book, it makes me understand why wise people said that ego is our biggest enemy; because humans naturally will act on their self-interest and we must constantly resist that battle within ourselves. Maybe it’s also related to the concept of the reptilian brain.

Furthermore, it indirectly explains about the concept of immortality, reincarnation, and past life since DNA always replicates (thus, it never truly dies) and all information from thousands of years is already there in our DNA. We just don’t have the capability to access it.

Luckily, Dawkins also provides a counterargument, “Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives. It may just be more difficult to learn altruism than it would be if we were genetically programmed to be altruistic. 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, at least, we may have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.”

Besides that, this book explores the spread of memes (cultural transmission). Apparently memes are not the funny images that we often see, but it’s a cultural idea that has survived for many generations, like a folk song.

Since Richard Dawkins is an ethologist, we’ll also find numerous examples of animal behavior. IMO, while the main idea is marvelous I feel that it can be put into a shorter book.

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