RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 25 Apr 1997 15:01:00 +0100

Dan wrote:
>At 10:25 AM 4/24/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
>>Dan Henry wrote:
>>>Do we think of gazelles as altruistic because they hang around together
>>>cooperate for survival? NO. It's a survival mechanism that is used by
>>>individual gazelle.
>>This is what I don't understand about this sort of assertion:
>>As people interested in memetics, haven't we all read
>>Dawkins? And don't we know that it's *genes* that are
>>primarily selfish? And Dawkins himself says that does
>>*not* mean that *we* have to be selfish!
>The point of the entire post was that cooperation (e.g., sharing knowledge)
>is not evidence of altruism.

OK. What you said there was just the trigger for me to
react to something that been bubbling up inside for a

>But if Dawkins himself said it, I guess the discussion is over!

I didn't mean to suggest quite that. My thinking was as follows:
I assume that those who say all behaviour is basically selfish
are using evolutionary theory as a justification. I also assume
that people on this list will "believe in" memetics, and as that
concept was based on that of the selfish gene, I assume they
believe in that too, so their views on evolution should be
basically Dawkins-ish. So when I point out that Dawkins
says it's genes and not necessarily people that are selfish,
I'm pointing out a contradiction. OK, that long chain of
assumptions obviously falls down for some people at least.
But I'd be interested in finding out at what points, for which