Jafar Isbarov's Reviews > The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
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it was amazing
bookshelves: science, evolution, highly-recommended, read-in-english
Recommended for: Anyone interested in nature; anyone concerned about how they see nature.

Darwin had postulated the revolutionary hypothesis in scarceness of empirical data and with shortcoming knowledge in biology. A century passed, improving the biological science we possess, alongside with absorption of natural selection among elite society, which eventually lead to emergence of sophisticated advocates of the theory (and yes, that 100 years were enough to call natural selection a theory). We knew more than necessary to revolutionize it. "The Selfish Gene" and "The Extended Phenotype" took evolution a step forward - at least its public reception.

What makes this books so special?

Well, I won't emphasize the appealing style Dawkins uses, neither design of the book both of which simply didn't let me put it aside. What I want to underline is just the theory. Let that book be written by a person with no notion of what literature is (Dawkins is surely not one) and let it even not be a book, but scrawled notes left on a messy desk. Those lines would still be considered revolution by those who read them with intention of understanding natural selection. I cannot summarize whole book into a few sentences and I will not try either. I will simply put this explicit here:

"A replicator is anything in the universe of which copies are made. Replicators come into existence, in the first place, by chance, by the random jostling of smaller particles. Once a replicator has come into existence it is capable of generating an indefinitely large set of copies of itself. No copying process is perfect, however, and the population of replicators comes to include varieties that differ from one another. Some of these varieties turn out to have lost the power of self-replication, and their kind ceases to exist when they themselves cease to exist. Others can still replicate, but less effectively. Yet other varieties happen to find themselves in possession of new tricks: they turn out to be even better self-replicators than their predecessors and contemporaries. It is their descendants that come to dominate the population. As time goes by, the world becomes filled with the most powerful and ingenious replicators.

Gradually, more and more elaborate ways of being a good replicator are discovered. Replicators survive, not only by virtue of their own intrinsic properties, but by virtue of their consequences on
the world. These consequences can be quite indirect. All that is necessary is that eventually the consequences, however tortuous and indirect, feed back and affect the success of the replicator at getting itself copied."


Theory is well-formed and profound, apparently, but it is by no means the only reason to read The Selfish Gene. It also helps to form general understanding of evolution, though not in conventional way. Not only I understood more than I expected, but I also realized that I know much less than I thought about evolution.

If you want to learn about evolution, read this book. And if you have excelled in biology or any other natural sciences, you will surely enjoy it. You know what is only downside of the book? It barely leaves something unexplained for you to have a brainstorm.

P.S: I have written this review 2 years ago, and I have since tried to keep its original form intact. My current views do not necessarily align with the ones mentioned here.
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Reading Progress

February 27, 2016 – Shelved
February 27, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
October 17, 2016 – Started Reading
October 31, 2016 – Finished Reading
January 14, 2017 – Shelved as: science
June 27, 2017 – Shelved as: evolution
July 23, 2017 – Shelved as: highly-recommended
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: read-in-english

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