The Selfish Gene

Finished “The Selfish Gene.”  Also read Ayn Rand’s essay “For the new intellectual”

quick thoughts:

Rand – Fun to read. I learned that I shouldn’t be a barbarian king or invent a fake religion or philosophy to hold people down.  Brb going to build a factory (but not listen to non-classical music or read postmodern literatrure because it’s bad)  I do get annoyed when I see people claim that she’s evil or selfish – in the greedy, harming others sense – because it just shows that they can’t read well.

Dawkins – Learned a lot. Reading this book can almost put you into a nihlist depression it’s that powerful. Huikat was right, the middle dragged a bit with the birds and the bees (actual birds and bees, not euphemism) but this was IMO partly because the beginning and end were so interesting. Only flaw was his conclusions or lack thereof:

Dawkins Paraphrase: “You love your family because of your genes. You base your moral values on your genes. Ideas like patriotism and racism and even God are just memes.  Life is pointless so, uh altruism?  Also atheism.”  (Strident Atheism doesn’t count as a meme apparently).

“Final” Recommendation on what to read in order to learn how to live one’s life: John Gardner’s Grendel, which I’ve come to realize is basically a philosophy book and full of hidden meanings. I admit I had to read several interviews and a letter from the author to young students in order to properly understand it.  (you should also be familiar with the original but don’t need to be an Old English scholar or anything; I happen to disagree slightly with Gardner’s interpretation of a few points in the original).



wt: 172.2 made choice to eat no Halloween candy of any sort. spurned complimentary hot dog also. so this is a minor outrage.  Anyway it seems like I weigh more on days that I post my weight (training days). Not like anyone is intently following every aspect of my training and body weight; yesterday I was 169.6. it will come.

CGB: 220 x 3; 225,230,235,240 x 2

MRS: 295,300,305,310,315,320,325 x 1

MP: 141,142.5 x 3

SLDL: 205,210 x 2

time: 1:11

i did train the other days too logs later and halloween pics


10 thoughts on “The Selfish Gene

  1. “Reading this book can almost put you into a nihlist depression it’s that powerful.”

    I need to read more science stuff from Dawkins because I love the way he writes. Only book of his that I read was “The God Delusion”, and even in that one I found the science bits more interesting than the rest. In that one he merely touches on the meme-gene relationship and I remember thinking it was one of the most awesome things I’d ever read. “Selfish Gene” is allegedly his greatest work.

  2. I happen to disagree slightly with Gardner’s interpretation of a few points in the original

    Care to elaborate? I was taught a heavily Gardner-influenced interpretation, and my dad and I went back and forth on it quite a bit.

    Also, have you (or Celica, this might interest you since it’s weeb shit) read Outlaws of the Marsh? It’s very long, but you don’t need to read very much of it to decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s currently my go-to for cardio on the machines. Lots of entertaining hooliganism.

    • re TAT and OoM: I will check them out. Thank you.

      re Gardner’s “Beowulf” interpretation:

      For instance, I disagree with Gardner’s ultra-tragic interpretation of the end of the poem. Certainly the Geats have hard times ahead: They have lost their superhero king. There certainly will be renewed beef with the Swedes and Franks. Some of the nobles were shown to be cowards.

      However (see his letter to the students that I linked to in post), 1. Beowulf did not die “deluded”. 2. There’s not a sudden revelation that the treasure is rusty and cursed. 3. The Geats don’t get overrun by the Swedes (for another 700 years at least) 4. Wiglaf sprinkling water on Beowulf’s face; Gardner seems to portray this as like he’s performing desperate CPR “YOU NEED TO WAKE UP WE NEED YOU MAN OHHH FUCK that’s it guys we’re – I mean you’re – done.” IMO it is what it is (and not baptism imagery either but that’s not important). Performing first aid. He would like Beowulf to live, or say a few more wise words. Everybody would. It’s the right thing to do. “Hey man, Wake up, Beowulf! All right. That’s it. He’s gone” Grimly stands up and takes charge of the situation.

      I can backup all my assertions but not going to argue over Old English words, contemporary texts, lexical analysis of the corpus (unless there’s a demand for that). My guess is that Gardner wanted a Shakespearean type tragedy. And interpreted it thusly.

      • I disagree with Gardner’s ultra-tragic interpretation of the end of the poem.

        Thanks. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking of. I think Gardner probably overplays his hand with some of the claimed textual evidence, but an at least somewhat tragic reading of the ending is pretty compelling. Reads a bit like a Christian telling of an older pagan story–so it wouldn’t have been particularly tragic in a pagan idiom, dying in battle is a good way to go and your hero can go to Valhalla afterwards, but you can’t do that with a Christian moral/metaphysical framework.

        • No i agree that it is tragic in the sense that bad things happen and will continue to happen forever. It’s just not a total mope ending like he makes it out. I don’t even think it’s bad in a Christian framework. Doing heroic deeds, vanquishing evil and sacrificing yourself to save people who don’t deserve it. I feel like we’ve seen this before. Add the satisfaction of Wiglaf joining in – there are other heroes who will come after you. These heroes love and respect you and will not let your memory be forgotten.
          This is as good as life gets.

  3. Am in pseudo Randia now. Lighting things on fire on the sidewalk, littering, playing loud music everywhere and using megaphones to advertise your ice cream stand seem really sweet when you’re a teenager, but then when you’re adult it’s all a little annoying and frustrating. But it’s fine.

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