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“The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is an immensely important work of evolutionary biology.

First published in 1976, the book offers a thought-provoking discussion about the behavior and motivations of individuals in different species, as seen through the lens of evolutionary biology.

Provocative Thesis

The central thesis of the book is to explain why certain traits exist within species and how they are passed down through generations.

Dawkins’ central argument is that a gene, or group of genes, can be described as ‘selfish’ if it serves only its own interests and not those of the species or individual within which it exists.

This idea offers a dramatic shift in perspective in that the actions of individuals, even at the genetic level, are driven by a desire to serve their own needs.

Insightful Examples

The Selfish Gene is full of detailed explanations and thought-provoking examples. Dawkins looks at the behavior and motivations of different species, particularly those of human beings.

He uses examples from history and literature to illustrate his points, such as the idea that altruism is actually a byproduct of selfish desires.

Wide Application

The Selfish Gene goes beyond evolutionary biology to offer insights into human behavior and the motivations of individuals.

Dawkins explores the idea of selfishness in human nature and how this can have both beneficial and detrimental outcomes.

He argues that self-interest is essential for the evolution of any species, but can also lead to destructive behaviors.


The Selfish Gene is an engaging and informative work that challenges the way we think about evolutionary biology.

Dawkins offers a compelling argument that our behavior is often driven by a desire to promote our own interests, rather than acting out of altruism or kindness.

His thought-provoking discussion offers valuable insights into how species survive and evolve, and why certain behaviors exist in nature.

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