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Richard Dawkins' “Selfish Gene”

Comment for NYT, Sep 20, 2011 

The “selfish gene” concept does not express a gene’s “self-centeredness.” On the contrary, it reflects its “altruism.”

It seems that the controversy about the “selfish gene” that presumably determines human psychological trait of self-interest, probably arose from a historic but still a persistent paradigm of genetic determinism, connecting one gene to one disease/behavior, epigenetics notwithstanding.

From systems science point of view, a gene is just a component of the genome and thus its primary role is the preservation of the bodily system while it also contributes to its emergence, value creation. An emergence here implies a transient state of a system, arising from organized complexity, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts that are engaged in an ongoing struggle for adaptability and evolvability based on self-organization. A gene is “selfish” only to the extent that its primary goal is to participate, through up/down regulation, in the creation of its bodily system and its emergence, which is its health. As each such a system is a component of even larger human race system, its overwhelming drive is to optimize, not worsen, all inter-related systems’ structure and function.