Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene Jonathan Kozol's Essay

Length: 12 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Teaching Type: Essay Paper: #76417215 Related Topics: Memes, Selfishness, Interdisciplinary Studies, Inequality
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Richard Dawkins' the Selfish Gene Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities: Children America's Schools. Plus, read websites: http://www.ou./cls/online/lstd5013/dawkins.shtml http://salmonriver.

Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene"

Jonathan Kozol's "Savage Inequalities: Children America's Schools"

There has recently been much controversy regarding genes, as technology has made it possible for people to make intriguing discoveries regarding the topic and a series of individuals have come up with interesting theories concerning genes. Individuals like Richard Dawkins have gone even further than most of their colleagues and produced revolutionary theories relating to how organisms work as machines having the task of transmitting genes to generations following them, with animal behaviors essentially being caused by genes.

Considering Dawkins' theory, one can gain a better understanding of Jonathan Kazol's book "Savage Inequalities: Children in American Schools," with memes being most likely responsible for the fact that particular groups experience a series of benefits in educational institutes across the U.S.

While Dawkins' book primarily relates to the socio-biologic aspect of the "selfish gene," Kazol focuses chiefly on the social element in schools around America and why certain communities are being harshly discriminated on account of belonging to a particular race or because of their social statute. Dawkins appears to want his readers to understand that humans are not necessarily driven by their interests in performing daily activities, as they are also influenced by genes. Also, even with the fact that genes are dedicated to replicate, they do not think or express any interest in doing otherwise. Their main function is to reproduce, thus meaning that they are devoted to doing so without actually having any self-control.

One of the foremost elements that people have to comprehend in "The Selfish Gene" is the fact that genes are not selfish in the literally sense of the word, as it would be absurd to relate to something that has no power to think as being selfish. Individuals thus have to first understand the significance of the word selfish in order to learn more regarding genes are their purpose.

Genes were practically programmed to act accordingly and their selfishness is not reflected in people's behavior. It is very easy for readers to be initially misled when reading this book, as some are likely to fail to notice the fact that genes simply take on their role when they put across selfishness and that it is very probable for individuals to perform altruistic acts when influenced by their genes. Genes are practically small components of a larger body and they simply complete their mission by being selfish, as it would be impossible for someone to understand how the respective body works just by considering its genes. It is even more difficult to understand how a body works when taking into account humans and the complexity coming along with how they function. Dawkins wants people to be able to differentiate between humans and animals in order for them to understand how humans are capable to act in disagreement with their genes while most animals have trouble doing so. "Lower animals, including the non-human primates, are generally restricted in their behavior to those actions they are genetically programmed to perform" (LSTD 5013 -- Interdisciplinary Studies).

It is because of their intellect that humans have the capability to act against what genes instruct them to do. People learn from their past and are thus able to perform activities that are not characteristic for them, as they can ignore instinct with the purpose of doing whatever they want to. Most people are reluctant to accept that humans are simply another animal species and that it is intellect that differentiates humans from "beasts" (Sherer).

Learned behavior is what differentiates people from animals and from other people. Dawkins referred to this concept by using the term meme, bringing together the Greek word mimeme and the word gene, as he was mainly interested in people relating to memory when hearing this word. "Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches" (Dawkins, 192).

Memes are passed on from generation to generation similar to how genes are inherited, and, just as genes, one can say that they exist because people imitate each-other. Whereas people tend to consider that memes are nothing like genes when considering their appearance and their physical existence, it can actually be said that memes are passed over from brain to brain similar to how parasites are physically transported from body to body. The concept of God is one of the best ways to understand memes, considering that most people across time have been influenced to express interest in worshipping the divine....


Even with the fact that they did it differently, they practically involved the same basic concepts in generating the role of a god.

Somewhat similar to the concept of God, cultural values are also passed over from generation to generation. Depending on their background, people react differently and evolve differently in the contemporary society.

Community bonds are very strong among individuals and in spite of the fact that present day society appears to have evolved significantly when considering discrimination, it appears that it will be long before people actually come to appreciate individuals belonging to different groups as being equal to themselves or to members of their own group.

Memes are sometimes influenced by how people experience progress and it is possible for certain individuals to express particular interest in assisting members of their own community in favor of wanting to assist persons belonging to other communities.

The U.S. is known for the fact it is presumably one of the freest countries in the world and because Americans are especially interested in promoting values concerning freedom and equality. Kozol's book goes at bringing down most of these beliefs by relating to the American school system and to how it is governed by inequity. According to their social status, to their skin color, and to their background in general, children in a series of schools from around the U.S. receive preferential treatment. One can understand more regarding the topic by focusing on the biological and philosophical aspects of the problem. It is perfectly normal for wealthy individuals to want a better life for their children at the same time as other, less privileged individuals, experience distress as a result of belonging to a different social group. In addition to being motivated by their intellect in doing this, these people are influenced by their genes, as they concentrated on reproducing themselves and have no interest in the well-being of other genes.

Conditions in the U.S. have come to be influenced by factors that are against the country's early cultural values. Whereas it was initially shaped by a wide range of cultures and by tolerance toward everyone, it has gradually come to develop a discriminatory attitude concerning non-white or underprivileged individuals.

Children are responsible for taking genes further and it is very important for people to ensure that their children are provided with all the resources necessary for them to evolve properly, so as for them to have more chances to continue to replicate their genes. It is apparently currently not abnormal for "wealthier communities to have better-funded schools at a lower tax rate than poor communities" (Fischel).

The Constitution itself can be considered to be the result of cultural values and moral thought being brought together in producing a safe environment for individuals in the U.S. Considering that schools in the U.S. gradually come to be good or bad depending on the funds invested in them and on the basis of people frequenting them, it is only normal for parents to want their children to attend educational institutes that they consider to be better. However, this also depends on the parents and their children, as it is very likely for a poor African-American parent to have encounter difficulties in getting his child to join a reputable school. People thus come to evolve on account of their background instead of being appreciated primarily for their abilities. The "No Child Left Behind" concept seems absent in an environment where discrimination governs.

Schools gradually become a place where children are selected on the basis of their abilities and their particularities. Those who fail to fulfill all the requirements needed for them to qualify as distinguished students are actually left behind and encouraged to drop out. Good students benefit the educational institute that they attend, their parents, and their community. They are in point of fact responsible for taking genes further because they come to be in the best circumstances possible for them to do so.

Selfish memes are most probably accountable for people wanting more from their children, from the educational institute that they work in, and from society as a whole. As a consequence, it should not be surprising that many individuals do everything in their power in order to exclude underprivileged individuals from society.

Not only do students in some schools struggle to get through school with as little trouble as possible,…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works cited:

Dawkins, R. (2006)."The Selfish Gene." Oxford University Press.

Fischel W.A. "How Judges Are Making Public Schools Worse." Retrieved May 31, 2011, from the City Journal Website:

Kozol, J. "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools." Harper's Perennial.

Sherer, N. "The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins." Retrieved May 31, 2011, from the Salmon River Gazette Website:
"LSTD 5013 -- Interdisciplinary Foundations." Retrieved May 31, 2011, from the College of Liberal Studies Website:
"Review of Memes: the New Replicators." Retrieved May 31, 2011, from the UnderGraduate Computer Science Website:
"Richard Dawkins." Retrieved May 31, 2011, from the Edge Website:

Cite this Document:

"Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene Jonathan Kozol's" (2011, May 31) Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

"Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene Jonathan Kozol's" 31 May 2011. Web.27 November. 2021. <>

"Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene Jonathan Kozol's", 31 May 2011, Accessed.27 November. 2021,

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