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Another source, with some quibbling.
From- Genes and Determinism: An interview with Richard Dawkins
Stangroom: It is striking, I think, that after more than 20 years your
work is still frequently misrepresented. For example, in a recent
Guardian profile, it was stated that The Selfish Gene advocates the view
that life is simply a means of propagating DNA, with every creature
ruthlessly determined to continue its own life. But isnıt that an
oversimplification of your position?
Dawkins: Actually, in some ways thatıs not an oversimplification! In the
sense that tautologically the DNA which survives in the world, being a
self-replicating entity, is that which survives. So we expect the world
to become filled with those varieties of DNA that are good at surviving.
And good means programming organisms to assist in that process. What is
an oversimplification is to say, therefore, that organisms are expected
to be selfish. Organisms are not expected to be selfish. Selfish genes is
a way of saying that in the service of those genes organisms may be
selfish, but the organisms themselves may be anything but selfish. You
can assure, or at least assist, the persistence of selfish genes by
making organisms show a whole gamut of behaviour, from being altruistic
in extreme ways right through to selfish.
Stangroom: In The Extended Phenotype you give the example of organisms
apparently acting against their own self-interest because they have been
affected by the genes of other organisms.
Dawkins: Thatıs right. One of the messages of The Extended Phenotype is
that you have to ask whose DNA is being served by a particular
adaptation. And I expressed this by saying that the phenotypic expression
of a piece of DNA might not even be in the body of the organism where the
DNA itself resides. It may, for example, be the DNA of a parasite which
is finding phenotypic expression in the body of a host. And it may even
be that the parasite is not living inside the body of the host - it might
be a cuckoo that is, as the chapter in The Extended Phenotype called it,
acting at a distance. But the fundamental rule that DNA is selfish and
looking after its own interests shines through, and all else is
complication, although it can be very extreme complication (among which
are individual altruism, and acting at a distance).
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