10/21: Pre-draft thinking

Post one quotation from each of your source materials (The Selfish Gene and one of your choice). One quotation should either challenge or lead to a deeper understanding of the other–analyze the connection in 3-5 sentences.

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15 Responses to 10/21: Pre-draft thinking

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  2. Pantelis says:

    “Colonies of animal genes need great cooperation between them to exploit the movement due to muscles and nerves. The behavior of the survival machine is controlled by genes, not directly but in an indirect way, namely by providing specific behaviors and ways that it could help it to survive.”(Dawkins 4) and “Manatee” by Jefferey Yang are my sources. I feel like these connect because in “Manatee” Jeffery says that the only predator of the Manatee is humans. While Manatee’s fight to survive against humans, “they welcome us with open limbs.”

  3. avner baruch says:

    Richard Dawkins in “The Selfish Gene” states, “…to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. 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 we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.” (Dawkins 3) Dawkins believes that humans have a selfish gene, but offers some hope that humans can change the selfish genes effect on our actions. Whereas, Robert Wright believes that compassion and love have always been part of the gene pool. However, Wright like Dawkins believes that it will take work to evolve into a society with more compassion and this helps me analyze Dawkins theory of the selfish gene in evolution. Wright states, “…compassion and the golden rule are in some sense built into human nature. It’s unfortunate that they tend to be selectively deployed. And it’s going to take real work to change that.” (Wright 6)

  4. Victoria Christine says:

    In “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins states, “The muddle in human ethics over the level at which altruism is desirable—family, nation, race, species, or all living things—is mirrored by a parallel muddle in biology over the level at which altruism is to be expected according to the theory of evolution.” (Dawkins, 10). This quote is elucidated by Robert Wright when he states, “Basically it’s just like, if you’re my enemy, if you’re my rival — if you’re not my friend, if you’re not in my family — I’m much less inclined to apply the golden rule to you.” Here, we see both men acknowledging the fact that some form of altruism exists among humans. They make it clear that a person can be altruistic, they can exhibit this type of compassionate behavior. However, they both do not acknowledge whether it is inherent or not; whether true, absolute altruism exists in our genetic coding. A person, being the complex organisms that we are, can basically exhibit any characteristics or not. For Richard Dawkins, it comes down to whether the characteristic is not only a conscious act, but one that is instinctive and therefore genetic in some way. So in one way, Wright’s quote helped me understand Dawkins’ core thesis, however I would still have to do more reading to understand the nuances.

  5. Humza says:

    In “The Selfish Gene” Richard Dawkins states “I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness.” According to him our selfishness and tendency to dominate is programmed into our DNA. This could be true because the selfishness and domination is the will to survive and reproduce. On the other hand Robert Wright states “You’ve probably heard the term ‘interdependence’ applied to the modern world. Well, that’s just another term for non-zero-sum. If your fortunes are interdependent with somebody, then you live in a non-zero-sum relationship with them.” Wright argues that we live in way that we all depend on one another. Our pre-evolved predecessors depended on one another; they hunted and gathered in groups for safety. And in the modern world we all trade with each other to have a better life.

  6. I am using ” Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun…” (Dawkins 1). I love this quote in particular because to me, it states that evolution is a fact. However there are still people who believe that evolution (and the earth going around the sun) is not true. I’m using a statement from Alvin Powell “In America’s dysfunctional society, people need God more than Darwin”. This quote challenges Dawkins quote by saying that a majority of people don’t believe in evolution. The contradiction of the latter statement will lead to more factual arguments within the Theory of Evolution and Dawkins. The Selfish Gene, and in turn should lead to what Dawkins statement means. That there shouldn’t be doubt in Evolution as it is the only possible thing that truly makes sense.

  7. xiaozhen says:

    In the “selfish gene” by Richard Dawkins, he claims that if you look at the way natural works, it seems to follow that anything that has evolved by natural selection should be selfish. (Dawkins 4) In other words, it means people need to think more about themselves, in their shoes, the altruistic people can not live well in the world, they are sifted out by the natural selection . This sentence leads to a deeper understanding of what Robert Wright says that compassion leads you to do good things for people who then will return the favor. (Wright 3:05) Wright best explains that no the people do good things for others is altruistic. they do that because they can get the reward from them. In addition, they need their help or other benefit from them. The real altruism does not exist. They are all have some purposes. All in all, these two sentences all declare that people do some thing is in order to get some benefit from others which means people are selfish, not the altruism.

  8. leroy mcleod says:

    I am also using Giorgoss’ quote, however, I disagree with his interpretation. I think we can all agree that humans are animals, I wouldn’t say that I had a natural compassion for close relatives but I would say that I have a tolerance. I may help them out expecting them to think better of me or to remain on good terms but wouldn’t that make the motion to help them no longer compassion and no longer selflessness. True Altruism is dead in this generation, almost no one does anything for nothing.

    • Well… I never said that all animals have a natural compassion. I stated if there is enough compassionate action, then there could be a change in the gene pool of a family. With that being said, it’s up to individuals today to determine their actions as everyone is different. Some can be selfish, others completely selfless. Still, interesting point of view you have there.

  9. Cameron Burt says:

    The two quotes that I have selected are “Be warned, that if you wish as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little from biological nature” (Dawkins 3) and from my own paper, “The fact that my parents risked everything for my sister and I taught me a huge lesson in which I base my lifestyle off of now; take care of those you love regardless of the risks you have to take” (Burt 1). These two quotes conflict majorly. In one instance, Dawkins states how there is no such thing as true altruism between human beings and all acts are committed for the sole purpose of benefiting oneself. In my personal experience, I viewed my parents commit the act of true altruism, they risked their own lives to preserve mine. There is a strict confliction between these two quotes in that they’re saying completely different things.

  10. Jiajiefan says:

    According to The Selfish Gene, Dawkins says that “I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness.” And this challenges the concept of what Robert Wright says in his speech, “From a biologist’s point of view, compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself.” Dawkins’s sentence reveals that in order to survive, we need to be strong enough to conquer other species and this is one of the basic idea of natural selection. Robert Wright attempt to demonstrate that our compassionate behavior can result in win-win between each other. As we help other or do a favour for other, we can actually benefit ourselves. For example, rhinoceros birds eat parasites on rhinoceros, and rhinoceros prove protection for these birds.

  11. The quotations I chose from Robert Wright’s The Evolution of Compassion and Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene, respectively, were “From a biologist’s point of view, compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself.” (Wright 1) and “An apparently altruistic act is one that looks, superficially, as if it must tend to make the altruist more likely (however slightly) to die, and the recipient more likely to survive. It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfish in disguise.” (Dawkins 4.) Dawkin’s quote leads to a greater understanding of Wright as it qualifies that the gene acts in a way that is beneficial to itself. An act may seem to only lead to a negative outcome but, it may actually benefit the gene. This means that acts that we perform that are meant to provide aid may actually benefit us. There may be no act that is truly selfless since there is always something to gain.

  12. Nihad Anwar says:

    In “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, Dawkins claims that an “selfish individual” is better off surviving than altruistic individuals (Dawkins 7). This is conflicted in Robert Wright’s TED talk where he says that compassion is “natural” and the kinship chosen for the compassion would be family. Later on Wright does say that the compassion would be for “reciprocal altruism” (Wright 1). However, the key word is that Wright says the compassion does come naturally. This creates a moment of tension against Dawkins as he says altruism or compassion does not come naturally but as a means of protecting the survival of the species as a whole and is not always present in a species, he considers this as a “consequence of reproduction” (Dawkins 6-7). Dawkins says this compassion is adapted. Wright says although there is some self incentive behind compassion, it comes naturally.

  13. “Unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop being true (Dawkins, page 3).” This quote helped me further understand Jeffery Yang’s Poem “Manatee” and further analyze the meaning of “homosapiens (are Manatees) only natural predators yet they welcome us with open limbs. O Great Ancestors! Teach us how to love our enemies.” I interpreted from these two quotes that humans are inherently selfish and do things that people recognize as wrong, i.e. pollution, killing harmless animals ,war etc. but do nothing to stop. People talk about how all of these things that are caused by humans are bad but nothing is done by humanity as a whole to stop these actions. These actions show that humans can be as selfish as Dawkins writes.

  14. From “The Selfish Gene,” I choose to utilize a passage. It follows “I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness (Dawkins, pg.2).” From “Robert Wright: The evolution of compassion,” I picked a passage a well in which the author discusses a principle called kin selection. It follows “And the basic idea of kin selection is that, if an animal feels compassion for a close relative, and this compassion leads the animal to help the relative, then, in the end, the compassion actually winds up helping the genes underlying the compassion itself (Wright,pg.2).” I choose the two because both challenge the other perfectly. While one proclaims that most passed down genes are selfish, the other explains that enough compassionate action will have an effect in the gene pool. It could lead to interesting interpretation, such as, can enough compassionate action override even the most selfish desires in an animal? Also, Wright mentions that this kin selection applies to family and not in a universal understanding of compassion, which can actually support the opinions of Dawkins about selfish behavior.

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