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

Robin Faichney (
Mon, 28 Apr 1997 11:28:00 +0100

Martz wrote:
>On Sat, 26 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:
>>Martz wrote:
>>>On Fri, 25 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:
>>>>says it's genes and not necessarily people that are selfish,
>>>And exactly what does 'self' mean when we talk about a selfish gene?
>>The gene, of course!
>So in reply to your question about what self means when we're talking
>about people; the person, of course. If you're going to object to using
>particular terms you must lead by example.

Did I object to using any particular terms? If so, you'll have
to remind me. I have two separate (though not unrelated)
points to make in this context: I object to the use of
evolutionary theory to defend the proposition that all our
actions are selfishly motivated. Following Dawkins,
that's not required. I also say there's no concrete
referent for *either* "the self" or "the person". But that
doesn't prevent them from being useful memes, and I
*certainly* don't object to the use of the terms "self"
or "selfish". You just have to be careful what you do
with them, that's all. Eg, it would be foolish to think
Dawkins suggests the gene is literally selfish. It's a
metaphor. But in the evol context it makes more
sense to say that genes are necessarily selfish than
that we are.