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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17 Responses to 10/21: Pre-draft thinking

  1. Kwan Yuk says:

    In the”Selfish Gene”, Darwin mentions that the commonest and most conspicuous acts of animal alruism are done by parents, especially mothers,toward their children.
    In Robert Wright’s ted talk, he also mentions about this kind of close relationship. He says,” It happened through a principle known as kin selection. 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. So, from a biologist’s point of view, compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself.”
    Both of them talk about the connection between kinship and altruism. However, Robert Wright argues that the kind of altruism shown in the kinship is also one kind of selfish.It is just the way gene helps itself.

  2. Ardit Gjoni says:

    There is a pessimistic viewpoint on the biology of all living beings between Robert Wright in his TED talk and Richard Dawkin in “The Selfish Gene.” There is an underlying reason for almost every action we commit regardless if it beneficial or not to others, it is in its core a selfish act. To do a real selfless act would mean to do something that has no benefit to you whatsoever. Most decent acts between living things just do not fit the qualifications as there will end up always seeming to be a selfish undertone. Even at first glance there are acts that will appear to be selfless but turn out to be selfish in the more massive scope of things such as when Dawkin refers to parents and their young “The commonest and most conspicuous acts of animal altruism are done by parents, especially mothers, towards their children. They may incubate them, either in nests or in their own bodies, feed them at enormous cost to themselves, and take great risks in protecting them from predators” (Dawkins 6). The parents act is a selfless act from the thought that the kids might not benefit them much in any way but from a biological standpoint they serve to spread their parents genetics which is the goal of reproduction which is why the parents take so much care for their young even if they do not really know it. For humans on a personal level of doing good things it is practically impossible to not be doing something selfish, selfishness in nature does not have to be intentional, it is just how we are made up to be. It ends up for everyone that being good to one another benefits us in the long run just as how “Robert Wright points out Now, there’s more good news that came along later in evolution, a second kind of evolutionary logic. Biologists call that “reciprocal altruism.” OK. And there, the basic idea is that compassion leads you to do good things for people who then will return the favor” (Wright TED talk).

  3. Zainab Karim says:

    In “The Selfish Gene”, Dawkins thesis is constantly repeated throughout the chapters. His main idea revolves around a strong statement he says in the book, “Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives.” Although throughout the reading, he constantly stresses that we all have the selfish gene instilled in us, however it doesn’t mean that we follow this all the time. Robert Wright goes about to challenge this yet some how support this statement by saying in his ted talk, “The Evolution of Compassion”, “… if you want to be treated well, you treat other people well. And it’s good to treat other people well. That’s close to being a kind of built-in intuition.” These two statements talk about the common ground of altruism. Although Dawkins states that is something that is part of our gene, but Wright goes to say that it isn’t something we commonly choose to follow just because it is part our gene.

  4. Shanna Razak says:

    In Wright’s ted talk it states “…came along later in evolution, a second kind of evolutionary logic. Biologists call that “reciprocal altruism.” OK. And there, the basic idea is that compassion leads you to do good things for people who then will return the favor”. This quote talk about human nature and the fact that because we have the gene of wanting something in return it puts us in an circle of illusions of goodness. This means that good deeds will flourish because all humans are dependent on the idea that we will receive something in return for our act(self-interest). This quote can lead to a deeper understanding of the quote “to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good you can expect little help form biological nature”(Dawkins,3). Both of these quotes relate to each other because they explain that we are selfish because of our genes and there is nothing we can do about it . It also reflects on the idea that even if we do feel as if we are being moral we are not everything is done for a selfish reason(money, fame ,to bring up reputation ,
    etc.)

  5. Hamid Javed says:

    In the “The Selfish Gene”, Dawkins says, “Therefore we must expect that when we go and look at the behaviour of baboons, humans, and all other living creatures, we shall find it to be selfish. If we find that our expectation is wrong, if we observe that human behaviour is truly altruistic, then we shall be faced with something puzzling, something that needs explaining.” (Dawkins 4) In Wright’s Ted Talk he says, “And there, the basic idea is that compassion leads you to do good things for people who then will return the favor. Again, I know this is not as inspiring a notion of compassion as you may have heard in the past, but from a biologist’s point of view, this reciprocal altruism kind of compassion is ultimately self-serving too.” (Wright 3:05) These two statements lead to a deeper understanding of each other because Dawkins is implying that we are expected to be truly altruistic but that is not the case in living creatures. Wright says the same thing but in a different way because we are being compassionate towards one another but that’s for a selfish reason also. Whether we do something that is expected from us or because we are innately compassionate, it all comes down to us being self-serving according to both authors.

  6. In The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins states “I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness.” (Dawkins 2) However in Robert Wright’s TED Talk The Evolution of Compassion he states “I think it’s probably the case that, in the human evolutionary lineage, even before there were homo sapiens, feelings like compassion and love and sympathy had earned their way into the gene pool, and biologists have a pretty clear idea of how this first happened.” (Wright 1:30) These two statements are contradictory because Dawkins believes that even the earliest genes had to be selfish in order to survive. They had to compete with all other genes in order to survive. Wright on the other hand believes that the earliest genes had compassion for others that were similar to them. As a result of this some genes actually aided each other in various ways.

  7. Isabelle Davidov says:

    In “The Selfish Gene” Richard Dawkins states that “Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives”. In Robert Wrights Ted Talk “The Evolution of Compassion” Wright states “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 winds up helping the genes underlying the compassion itself. So from a biologists point of view, compassion is actually a genes way of helping itself.”(Wright, 1:59) Richard Dawkins quote challenges Robert Wrights quote because it states that even if compassion is a genes way of helping itself it doesn’t have to be that way. It makes me question if people can make altruistic and selfless decisions without wanting anything in return. Dawkins states that regardless of this gene people do not have to feel obliged to listen to them all the time.

  8. Armen Bijimenian says:

    In “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins says: “. They made the
    erroneous assumption that the important thing in evolution is
    the good of the species (or the group) rather than the good of the
    individual (or the gene)” (Dawkins 2.) In the Ted Talk, Robert Wright says: “Eventually they get so close, they form multicellular organisms, then you get complex multicellular organisms; they form societies.
    But then at some point, one of these multicellular organisms does something completely amazing with this stuff, which is it launches a whole second kind of evolution: cultural evolution. And amazingly, that evolution sustains the trajectory that biological evolution had established toward greater complexity” (Wright 1:36-2:14.) They contradict each other because Dawkins is saying that evolution is for the good of the species, whereas Wright is saying that evolution is for the advancement of society and culture. I agree with Wright more because if culture does not advance reproduction rates would most likely decline because of the lack of social gatherings. Also less technology would be created for the advancement of society.

  9. Jay Lebowitz says:

    “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins: excerpt
    -“Therefore we must expect that when we go and look at the behaviour of baboons, humans, and all other living creatures, we shall find it to be selfish. If we find that our expectation is wrong, if we observe that human behaviour is truly altruistic, then we shall be faced with something puzzling, something that needs explaining” (Dawkins 4).
    “The Evolution of Compassion” by Robert Wright: excerpt
    -“So, from a biologist’s point of view, compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself. OK” (Wright).
    *Dawkins implies that living creatures are not ‘truly altruistic’ in the above excerpt of his work. Dawkins consequently implies at this point in his work that while all living creatures are altruistic, the altruism is a selfish kind of behavior. Wright states that “compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself” in the above excerpt of his work, and this is very much connected to what Wright is speaking about. Wright implies that the compassionate actions of living creatures are selfishly motivated, the selfish motivation being one’s ‘genetics’ trying to further its own prosperity. The sort of compassion that Wright is speaking about is the ‘altruism’ Dawkins reflects on.

  10. Hurriya Hassan says:

    In the Ted Talk “The Evolution of Species” by Robert Wright and in the reading “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, both authors bring up the idea that being selfish and conducting selfish act does not always come from our genes or the golden rules we follow. Robert Wright mentions “Although an appreciation of golden rule is natural, it’s also natural to carve out exceptions of those golden rules.” This quote means that there are set rules and standard that we follow but not as it was naturally expected to be followed, we tend to work around it or learn from it. Richard Dawkins statement “Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey the all our lives.” It helps me deepen my understanding that we do not always follow our genes or the golden rule, we tend to make our own decision in lives that were not caused because of our selfish genes.

  11. Andrew Wildstein says:

    In the “Selfish Gene” Richard Dawkins says, ” An apparently altruistic act is one that looks, superficially, as if it must tend to make the altruistic more likely to die, and the recipient more likely to survive. It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfishness in disguise.” In the Ted Talk Robert Wright says “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.”
    These two quotes are related in many ways and led me to a deeper understanding of the fact that no act of kindness is completely selfless. They both are saying that even though you are doing something good for someone else, the reality is that the action is helping yourself and you gain some sort of benefit from it.

  12. In the selfish gene, Richard Dawkins stated, “We are survival machines-robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment”. His explanations of the role a ‘gene’ plays in reproduction and especially future evolution may not have profound repercussions on the operations of those who would ‘control’ animals, minerals and people for their own selfish gains. But Dawkins’ explanations ought to point thinking folks toward reality that no supernatural man or ghost is going to dissolve our difficulties in this life or take off grievances by promising a sweeter life after death. In the other hand Robert Wright (Tedtalk) stated that we were all created equally, all for the same reason. We were created to live life, fulfill a goal. We are here to make something of ourselves. We decide our future, and it is us who will make it happen. His statement gives us a better understanding about ourselves. It is only us who have the right to make decisions not the genes that we have inside our bodies.

  13. Maria Hayee says:

    In the reading “The Evolution of Compassion”, Robert Wright says that “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.” “So from a biologist’s point of view, compassion is actually a gene’s way of helping itself.” (Wright 2) This idea is reinforced in the reading “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins says that “Laying down one’s life for one’s friend is obviously altruistic, but so also is taking a slight risk for them.” “Many small birds, when they see a flying predator such as a hawk, give a characteristic of “alarm call” upon which the whole flock takes appropriate evasive action.” “There is indirect evidence that the bird who gives the alarm call puts itself in special danger, because it attracts the predator’s attention particularly to itself.” “This is only a slight additional risk, but it nevertheless seems, at least at first sight, to qualify as an altruistic act by our definition.” (Dawkins 6) Richard Dawkins also reinforces the second part of Robert Wright’s statement that “compassion actually winds up helping the genes underlying the compassion itself.” According to Richard Dawkins, “To put population within a species, whose individual members are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the group, may be less likely to go extinct than a rival group whose individual members place their own selfish interests first.” “Therefore the world becomes populated mainly by groups consisting of self-sacrificing individuals.” (Dawkins 7) Both readings reinforce the idea that showing altruistic behavior is good for the most part. It is human nature to show compassion for your loved ones and sometimes that compassion has a positive effect. The self-sacrificing individuals actually help the underlying genes because by sacrificing themselves they help their kin live on and continue the advancement of their genes. Both readings agree that if organisms were selfish all the time and looked out for only themselves they would be putting themselves in harm’s way.

  14. “Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use. The mere presence in the dictionary of a word like ‘living’ does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world.”
    ― Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
    “I mean, for example, none of us, probably, want to go to prison, but we all think that there are some people who should go to prison. Right? So, we think we should treat them differently than we would want to be treated. Now, we have a rationale for that. We say they did these bad things that make it just that they should go to prison.”
    -Robert Wright, Ted Talk
    We were all created equally, all for the same reason. We were created to live life, fulfill a goal. We are here to make something of ourselves. Some will succeed, others will fail. We decide our future, and it is us who will make it happen.

  15. In the reading “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins says that “our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all over lives”. If we were to obey all the selfish instructions put forward by our genes, we know that it will be dangerous to ourselves and finally to our genes. This is when organisms develop altruistic behavior so that it serves its own species or it is good for the group as a whole. But Dawkins further develops this idea by saying that ,in reality it is risking its own life. Dawkins puts forward the example of the bird drawing attention to itself from a hawk for the good of its group to describe the act of altruism. And in the tedtalk “The evolution of Species”, Robert Wright adds on this idea of being selfish by using the concept of Golden rule and says that we cannot be altruistic always. He says that “although an appreciation of golden rule is natural,its also natural to carve out exceptions of those golden rule” So like in the example, we don’t put forward the golden rule to our rivals or our enemies. Therefore anything that is instructed by or genes is not obeyed all the times, but only in times that serves a purpose for ourselves.

  16. Daniel Aronov says:

    In the Selfish gene, Dawkins mentions how we should look at evolution in its lowest of level, in terms of selection. Dawkins says, “Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives”.(Dawkins, 11) Dawkins says how as humans we do have selfish genes. He later adds on how our compassion is limited to our understanding of others. In Robert Wright’s TEDTalk, “The evolution of compassion”, Wright says how ” And evolutionary psychologists think that these intuitions have a basis in the genes. So, they do understand that if you want to be treated well, you treat other people well. And it’s good to treat other people well”( Wright, 4:23). Similar to Dawkins, Wright also leads us to the fact that we as humans can be defined by our genes(DNA). Our actions and our interactions with people in the world lead us to determine that our evolution is based on our genes. Also, Wright and Dawkins are similar in the fact that they both talk about zero sum and non sum. Both rank zero sum and non sum as human interaction towards people in society. In Wright’s TEDTalk, he uses the example of America in World War 2 dropping bombs on Japan and how American media perceived it. Dawkins gives the example with amoeba and the adult chimpanzee and says how some of us avoid judicial execution while we enjoy the shootings of mild animal pests. This is linked with zero sum and non zero sum with the fact that our judgment and interactions can rely solely on our genes.

  17. Matthew Chan says:

    In the selfish gene, Dawkins believes that altruism and compassion are actually selfish traits. We exhibit these traits to preserve our species, community, and to carry on our existence. In “The Selfish Gene” Dawkins stated “living creatures evolve to do things ‘for the good of the species’ or ‘for the good of the group” (Darwin 7). In the Evolution of Compassion, the author goes deeper into Dawkins belief and explains why groups hate each other. He categorizes human interactions into two groups, zero sum and non zero sum. Using these two, he explains that compassion is only limited to our understanding of others. His idea of the moral imagination, looking through the point of view of others, is the main reason why people fight. He uses examples such as an Iranian flag burner and an American citizen to emphasize this. Both groups hate each other because they disrespect the other. In many ways, each side is very similar to one another and both of them would have stopped their bickering had they taken the time to understand the reasons for their actions. At the end of the paragraph, the author had stated, “I think it’s worth the trouble because, again, it just helps us to understand. If you want to reduce the number of people who are burning flags, it helps to understand what makes them do it.”

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