The Selfish Gene
By Richard Dawkins
Review by Isla (Biochemistry)
The Selfish Gene presents the view that the gene is the reason why life on earth can survive and reproduce. This is because genes are the “replicators” of life, responsible for the survival and evolution of organisms. Dawkins explores the view that genes are selfish because their only purpose is to replicate themselves and be passed on to the next generation. This results in organisms becoming machines that function solely to preserve and pass on their genes. Therefore, it is the organisms’ genes that drive their actions and controls their behaviour.
This book interested me because it allowed me to consider how genes might behave differently in order to fulfil their goal of being passed on to the next generation. For example, although genes are considered to be selfish, they can sometimes work collaboratively, and seemingly selflessly, in order to increase their chance of survival collectively.
This book made me view genes in a different way — I had never considered the selfish nature in which they often compete so they can be passed on to the next generation. An important concept of the book is that genes, and only genes, are responsible for replicating whole organisms and it is solely due to them that we can replicate ourselves. Despite this book’s original copy being over 47 years old, its information still remains relevant and true today. At number one (at the time of writing) on Oxford’s Biochemistry reading list, this book is for those who want to view life through a different perspective — through the eyes of genes.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins