ZT:少数派读原版书[003]自私的基因(The Selfish Gene)

2008-02-01 看过
这次要给大家介绍的是一本轰动科学界的书——《自私的基因》(The Selfish Gene)。这本书于1976年出第一版,1989年出第二版,2006年出了20周年纪念版。这本书从进化论角度探讨了利他主义和自私,认为利他主义和自私从进化的角度来看是没有任何道理的。基因是“自私”的,基因的宗旨就是不断复制自己,繁衍传播下去,很多表面看来利他主义的行为其实从根本上来说是有利于基因的传递。我对本书核心思想的简单概括恐怕已经让一些人有点诧异了:利他行为竟然是自私的?!难道狗妈妈保护狗宝宝是自私的?难道雷锋是自私的?这点疑惑作者理查德·道金斯(Richard Dawkins)早就预料到,所以在书的第一章就说明了

I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case. (我并不提倡以进化论为基础的道德观,我只是讲事物是如何进化的,而不是讲人类应该怎样行动才符合道德准则。我之所以强调这一点,因为我知道我有被人误解的危险。有些人不能把阐述对事物的认识同提倡事物应该如何这两件事区别开来,此类人为数实在太多。)


Before going any further, we need a definition. An entity, such as a baboon, is said to be altruistic if it behaves in such a way as to increase another such entity's welfare at the expense of its own. Selfish behaviour has exactly the opposite effect. 'Welfare' is defined as 'chances of survival', even if the effect on actual life and death prospects is so small as to seem negligible. One of the surprising consequences of the modern version of the Darwinian theory is that apparently trivial tiny influences on survival probability can have a major impact on evolution. This is because of the enormous time available for such influences to make themselves felt.

It is important to realize that the above definitions of altruism and selfishness are behavioural, not subjective. I am not concerned here with the psychology of motives. I am not going to argue about whether people who behave altruistically are 'really' doing it for secret or subconscious selfish motives. It is important to realize that the above definitions of altruism and selfishness are behavioural, not subjective. I am not concerned here with the psychology of motives. I am not going to argue about whether people who behave altruistically are 'really' doing it for secret or subconscious selfish motives. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't, and maybe we can never know, but in any case that is not what this book is about. My definition is concerned only with whether the effect of an act is to lower or raise the survival prospects of the presumed altruist and the survival prospects of the presumed beneficiary.




The commonest and most conspicuous acts of animal altruism are done by parents, especially mothers, towards their children. They may incubate them, either in nests or in their own bodies, feed them at enormous cost to themselves, and take great risks in protecting them from predators. To take just one particular example, many ground-nesting birds perform a so-called 'distraction display' when a predator such as a fox approaches. The parent bird limps away from the nest, holding out one wing as though it were broken. The predator, sensing easy prey, is lured away from the nest containing the chicks. Finally the parent bird gives up its pretence and leaps into the air just in time to escape the fox's jaws. It has probably saved the life of its nestlings, but at some risk to itself.

( 动物利他行为中最普通明显的例子,是父母,尤其母亲,对其子女所表现的利他性行为。它们或在巢内,或在体内孕育这些小动物,付出巨大代价去喂养它们,冒很大风险保护它们免受捕食者之害。只举一个具体例子,许多地面筑巢的鸟类,当捕食动物,如狐狸等接近时,会上演一出"调虎离山计"。母鸟一瘸一拐地离开巢穴,同时把一边的翅膀展开,好象已经折断。抽食者认为猎物就要到口,便舍弃那个有雏鸟安卧其中的鸟巢。在狐狸的爪子就要抓到母鸟时,它终于放弃伪装,腾空而起。这样,一窝雏鸟就可能安然无恙,但它自己却要冒点风险。)


It is easy to see how this idea got its start in biology. Much of an animal's life is devoted to reproduction, and most of the acts of altruistic self-sacrifice that are observed in nature are performed by parents towards their young. 'Perpetuation of the species' is a common euphemism for reproduction, and it is undeniably a consequence of reproduction. It requires only a slight over-stretching of logic to deduce that the 'function' of reproduction is 'to' perpetuate the species. From this it is but a further short false step to conclude that animals will in general behave in such a way as to favour the perpetuation of the species. Altruism towards fellow members of the species seems to follow.



What is the selfish gene? It is not just one single physical bit of DNA. Just as in the primeval soup, it is all replicas of a particular bit of DNA, distributed throughout the world. If we allow ourselves the licence of talking about genes as if they had conscious aims, always reassuring ourselves that we could translate our sloppy language back into respectable terms if we wanted to, we can ask the question, what is a single selfish gene trying to do? It is trying to get more numerous in the gene pool. Basically it does this by helping to program the bodies in which it finds itself to survive and to reproduce. But now we are emphasizing that 'it' is a distributed agency, existing in many different individuals at once. The key point of this chapter is that a gene might be able to assist replicas of itself that are sitting in other bodies. If so, this would appear as individual altruism but it would be brought about by gene selfishness.



如果说前面的论述已经让你大为惊叹或者是恼火的话,道金斯在第十一章《拟子:新的复制因子》(Meme: The New Replicator)的论述更会让你不知所措。第十一章是专门探讨人类的。由于人类文化的存在和特殊性,仅仅从基因角度探讨人类行为解释力显然不足。比如,电视传媒和自私的基因有什么关系?为了对人类的文化传递和进化进行解释,道金斯大胆提出同基因一样,传递人类文化的也是一种复制因子叫做拟子(meme)。基因扩大自己领地的手段是精子或卵子,而拟子不断扩张自我复制的手段就是通过模仿——可以从一个大脑跳跃到另外一个大脑。

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.

道金斯以“上帝”这个概念为例说明拟子的存在和传播方式。(2006年,道金斯出版了新书The God Delusion,在书中论证上帝是不存在的。)

Consider the idea of God. We do not know how it arose in the meme pool. Probably it originated many times by independent 'mutation'. In any case, it is very old indeed. How does it replicate itself? By the spoken and written word, aided by great music and great art. Why does it have such high survival value? Remember that 'survival value' here does not mean value for a gene in a gene pool, but value for a meme in a meme pool. The question really means: What is it about the idea of a god that gives it its stability and penetrance in the cultural environment? The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The 'everlasting arms' hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like a doctor's placebo, is none the less effective for being imaginary. These are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.

理查德·道金斯的学生苏珊·布莱克摩尔(Susan Blackmore)把老师的思想发扬光大,在自己的专著《谜米机器》(The Meme Machine)表达了这样一个思想:正如基因之间相互竞争着,自私地、不顾一切地要进入到下一代的身体之中,最终决定了生物世界的格局及其结构;与此类似,谜米之间相互竞争着,自私地、不顾一切地要进入到另一个人的大脑、另一本书、另一个对象之中,这最终决定了我们的文化以及我们的心理结构。按照这一思路,“谜米”观念实际上已经发展为一种独立的关于人类文化的全新理论。(这里的谜米就是我说的拟子,个人觉得拟子这个翻译更确切)



The God Delusion

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene

River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

The Blind Watchmaker

The Selfish Gene

ZT From:http://hi.baidu.com/memetics/blog/item/41e71c604479a7de8cb10dce.html
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