Asexuality Ep. II: The Clone Wars / by Bryce Hidysmith

A Beholder from 1E D&D 

A Beholder from 1E D&D 

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V. made a point to me the other day about the idea that asexuality creates a scenario of almost totalistic war in the world the other day. For this reason, in the war between the Rotifers and ourselves, we may have won out already. 

It seems necessary to first think about what selection is. In this, I'm going to use G. C. Williams' definition of a gene, found in a footnote in Dawkins. There are of course criticisms to this definition, but they are entirely orthogonal to the possible benefits of attempting to analyze this ontology as Williams' and Dawkins' model is able to adequately track the possible holistic interdependencies that one would assume inherent in biological organization.  

“I use the term gene to mean ‘that which segregates and recombines with appreciable frequency.’ … A gene could be defined as any hereditary information for which there is a favorable or unfavorable selection bias equal to several or many times its rate of endogenous change.”

Think, for a moment, about what it would mean to be an asexually reproducing organism under selfish-gene models. By virtue or vice of the distribution of those units of selection which make up your identity on intergenerational timescales, everyone is either a close enough clone to yourself that you identify with them, or they are a foreign body, entirely separate. Such foreign bodies are fit only for momentary alliance before falling back into the pattern of totalizing war between factions of clones, whose genes shift and adapt to fate at the speed only of mutation. The sexual shuffling of genes—or, at least the potential for the shuffling of genes present in hypothetical sexual reproduction—allows those genes to collaborate in a meaningful way, so as to allow for a system that is not the totalizing war one would expect among a species where each line of descent is entirely atomic, rather than the genes themselves being atomic. 

The gamete is a key to peace among collaborators. Thus, while it is advantageous for genes to replicate and create broods of themselves, it is likely far more advantageous for them to bind themselves together and craft a system within which they can be a component part. My justification for thinking this is simply the fact that this shuffling of genes and the complexity of possible action and response contained within it would allow sexually reproducing species to carve out a far higher variance of possible niche than asexually reproducing species, something that at least appears to be attested to in the nature of the world as it stands today.