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The Selfish Gene - Modifying Theories

Introduced by "The Quotes"

"It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind." - Oscar Wilde

"We are all selfish, and I no more trust myself than others with a good motive." - Lord Byron

"Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself." - Kahlil Gibran

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction." Dalai Lama

5 Basic tenets of 'is'

Before I start on today's entry, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm now officially on the porn list. A search by someone yesterday for 'ejaculation "gotta see it" -female' made one of my entries pop up [perhaps a bad choice of phrase there, given the topic!] 8th out of 594, lost in a sea of other pornographic hits. Which entry was it? Fractal Critique 101! I had used the words "gotta see it" for the video clip of the song "Lean On Me", and the word 'ejaculation' appears in a comment that was left by a visitor, commenting on my 'X-Ray of a fart' fractal. (Just out of curiosity, I discovered that I'm not able to remove that comment, either..at least I couldn't figure out a way). I don't know if I should be proud or ashamed!! Which is an excellent lead-in to today's topic.....

I started reading "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins last night. It was originally written in 1976, and updated with a couple of additional chapters in 1989, so it's been around for awhile. His basic premise is that mankind is genetically pre-disposed to be selfish, to look after individual self as a priority over collective self, that altruism is a learned behaviour, not a genetic one. In other words, he's taking a scientific position on one side of the nature/nuture debate, which is fine.

My first instinct, when I started to read it, was to go back to the bookshelf and select another book, because this didn't 'fit in' with my five basic tenets of 'is', specifically the first one, where I state:

....PART 1: It is the single most fundamental and primary inherent nature of every human being, when faced with any decision involving two or more options, to always select the option that is right (answering 'yes'), where 'right' means
a) there will be no unwilling victimization of another human being, and
b) the overriding responsibility of any generation is to the next one.

...and then I found myself smiling inwardly, realizing I was exhibiting exactly the behaviour Dawkins claims is genetically instinctive! I 'want' my theory to work, so (perhaps at a subconscious level) I was selfishly and instinctively wanting to choose material that was consistent with it, and pretending that anything contrary didn't exist.

The irony, and error in thinking of course, is that I'm proposing my theory to be universal, which means it can't exclude any option. Whether I happen to agree with it or not is irrelevant. Judgments don't get made in 'is'. Although they exist and must be accounted for, they exist only as entities, just like everything else. After all, that's precisely the basis of the theory ...there are two components, separated by the threshold of {chaos, disturbance, noise, conflict, turbulence...} which attach to any decision point, coupled with the decision itself.

I have spent the majority of my discussions so far building on tenet #5, the generalized one, and it can remain unchanged as it is still consistent with both [and any other potential] views. But the evident truth is that I must re-word Part 1 of the five tenets, the one which I made specific to human beings. I have a choice. I could replace the words 'inherent nature' with alternative words such as 'goal' or 'destiny' or the like. My other option is to simply delete the definition of 'right', or perhaps generalize it in some way so as to not take sides on the nature/nurture controversy.

After debating the issue with myself for some time last night, I decided the correct formulation would be to modify my previous definition of 'right', recognizing that what I had originally reflected in it was my own personal desire of the way things 'should be' if we are to survive as a species. This view neglects two things: 1) the option of survival of the individual alone, and 2) the destruction of the species. But I have no right to make the assumption that my desires are universal. These two possibilities are contrary to one another, maintaining balance within the theory, so the original premise is still intact, it simply needs to be generalized at the individual level since it speaks of 'every human being', instead of at the society level.

In past discussions considering the levels inherent in fractals and Chaos theory, it was apparent that the selection of 'level' of observation was relatively arbitrary, since the same patterns emerged and re-occured under magnification at any level. This is consistent with the 'is' concept of each point of existence being a hologram of itself and all else, as well as the 'is' concept of having the ability to self-generate (which is a view that Hawkins supports; as one of his reviewers put it, '...whose purpose is to join together in one vision the older truths of Darwinism and the new truths of another great idea, that of the self-seeking, self-replicating and self-sufficient hereditary particle [which I have consistently referred to as either a 'dot' or 'point'].').

My original definition only allowed for an individual decision to support the continuation of the species. The newly-worded tenet below allows for all possible combinations as a consequence of individual behaviour. The other tenets, regarding the override mechanism (switching between nature and nurture, regardless of which side you happen to be on at the moment), and the generalized fifth one can remain unchanged.

I have realized that since writing the tenets originally, I have gone on to make a case for the necessity of selfishness to be present in some form. I can continue to do that without taking sides on any issue. And, of course, I can still continue to take sides if they're all there to be taken. This was the point I made in the entry, "An Argument in Favour of 'The Apprentice' ". In fact, as I look back at that entry now, it also makes the case for and against Dawkins premise: 'The Apprentice' is built on the premise of inherent selfishness, to live in a world where you are the only survivor, and my counter-proposal to build a society starting with a single contestant represents the society-sustainability view. Whether either is nature or nurture is a totally moot point as it relates to the Theory of 'is', for both would be supported on either side of the mirror.

So, just as Hawkins himself felt the need to modify his original thinking from 1976, and re-issue it in 1989, I also feel compelled at this point in my learning to re-word Tenet #1 as follows:

....PART 1: It is the single most fundamental and primary inherent nature of every human being, when faced with any decision involving two or more options, to always select the autonomous option that is right (answering 'yes'), where 'right' means:

i) for the individual --- individual survival, and

ii) for the species --- individual survival such that

a) there will be no unwilling victimization of another human being, and
b) the overriding responsibility of any generation is to the next one.

By making it an autonomous (personal) decision, and allowing for the decision to address personal survival as a means to an end in and of itself, as well as survival of society as the end, it accomodates the two possible alternatives that must exist for 'is' to exist. The choice between the two doesn't ever have to be made, but it must be available to be made. That's the essence of the new definition.

I have maintained the original definition completely within this modified one, so none of the original meaning has been compromised, but it now allows for discrete behaviour to be self-interested exclusively. When I begin to discuss 'complete closed systems' and 'partial closed systems', and 'open systems' this will be a significant discriminator.


Sorry. I won't use the word "ejaculate" again in your blog.

Oh, and I went ahead and took the liberty of deleting the comment since you said you wanted to delete it. We Americans have raunchier minds than those north of the border.

I came across a technical psychiatric paper several years ago on the topic of anorexia nervosa that argued that altruism is genetically-based. The author stated that altruism has survival value for the community and would have been selected for over time. See Michael Friedman, Survivor Guilt and the Pathogenesis of Anorexia Nervosa. Psychiatry, February 1985.


Two things:
1) I didn't say I wanted it deleted, I said I wasn't able to delete it, mostly out of curiosity to see how. I've used 'wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap' language on my blog before, and, while I won't make a habit of it, there is a time and place for a good choice of words. And besides, that's not a nasty word to begin with!

2) ...and more germain to today's blog...I would suggest that on virtually any scientific contention there will be another paper with an opposing, or at least differing, view. That is reality, and so I don't want to fall into the trap of supporting one view at the exclusion of the other, or my theory would fail in its claim to be universal. That may sound like fence-sitting, and in a sense, I suppose it is, but to be all-inclusive, it has to include 'all', no matter how 'right' or 'wrong' their conclusions may end up being, judged over time.

Thanks for your input.


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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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