Richard Dawkins – The Selfish Gene (1976)

by vyh

Elizabeth II is a direct descendent of William the Conqueror. Yet it is quite probable that she bears not a single one of the old king’s genes. We should not seek immortality in reproduction.

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea, compose a tune, invent a spark plug, write a poem, it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G. C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus, and Marconi are still going strong.

excerpt appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981