Selfish Organism

22 June, 2004 at 07:34 Leave a comment

Having read the excerpts, reviews, prefaces, sample-chapters, quotes (I read books this way) of the “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins and “The Meme Machine” by Susan Blackmore (which could be aptly titled “The Selfish Meme”), it just makes me wonder if I hit upon the reason as to why we humans and indeed, all living organisms are inherently selfish? Bingo! I mean, if our genes (nature) and meme/environment (nurture) are both proponents of selfism (*neology?), then what can we expect organisms to be but selfish?
Take the case of a truly altruistic activist (like a doctor volunteering in a war-camp). The media and she himself would think they are not selfish but if she had to save herself from a bullet, she would. One could say this is survival instinct but I see it as being selfish (but in a good and preserving way). If I had to write a book about such phenomena, the title could not be more apt than “The Selfish Organism”. BTW, I thought about this while in the shower which I was forced to take because I have a Jazz date with Christina (the psychology girl). I also thought other things in this context. If we have to apply the meme theory to organisms then the fundamental assumption we have to make is that all organisms (single celled and multi-celled) have to think. No matter what the AI folk and their kin tell us, I think that all organisms essentially think – see I am thinking 😉
If genes (at the molecular level) display the behaviour of being selfish (which is a characteristic), then they are “thinking” or are “aware” at some level (which we cannot fathom yet or our language cannot describe yet). Since all organisms are made up of genes, then they are implicitly thinking as well. It would be bloody stupid for us to imagine that genes can think but not the organisms which are made up of them, aint it? And heck, many organisms have brains. This lead me to the path of defining what thinking is. Throwing away all the baggage that comes with this topic like consciousness and cognition, I think that thinking is all about being aware of the environment and having the ability to make a choice. If an organism can make a choice, it can be said that it can think. From an Amoeba deciding if it wants to eat some cellular thingy or run away from it to Elephant bulls making a choice to fight for a cow or just live alone for a little more time to a Bear cub deciding to learn a hunting skill from its mother or just being happy with hunting Penguins which could be an intinct to a Hawk making the split decision to swoop on a prey thus precisely predicting the target positions (lot of complex calculations are at play here in its brain as any rocket-scientist would confirm) while swooping down at a 100miles/hour to you choosing to read this Blog etc.
It is all about thinking. We already know that animals communicate. What is the purpose of communication if it does not change the normal course of behaviour? Like a bee making a dance to tell about a flower or an ant saying that there is danger approaching the nest, all of it is communication which changes the normal course of work. In other words, the organisms make a choice to do something or not. It can be from instinct, from communication, from free-will, but it makes a convincing case that all organisms think and they do it for their selfish survival and propogation. If so, and applying this logic to genes which are now “thinking” molecules, then it probably explains some things like why did single-celled organisms decide to become multi-celled and how these multi-celled organisms reach towards a negotiation framework where some cells decide to become specialized into organs for the betterment of the organism as a whole. Intriguing, aint it? Throw in some references, some more incomprehensible banter like these and bam! we have the workings of an best-seller book here. And this is one of many books that are pending to be written and are distributed as voicenotes all over the place. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I should just dedicate myself to become a writer. If I do that, my life would not be enough to write down all things that I have a fair idea to write about. So, my mood is ‘contemplative’ (have to learn smilie-language)


Entry filed under: Life-Theories.

GooOS – Google Operating System Secret Lives of Enviable People

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June 2004
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