Categories
Journal Philosophy Science

Die for the group and spread your genes

I enjoyed this essay:

Where does good come from? – The Boston Globe: Instapaper

On a recent Monday afternoon, the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson was at his home in Lexington, talking on the phone about the knocks he’s been taking lately from the scientific community, and paraphrasing Arthur Schopenhauer to explain his current standing in his field. “All new ideas go through three phases,” Wilson said, with some happy mischief in his voice. “They’re first ridiculed or ignored. Then they meet outrage. Then they are said to have been obvious all along.”

Wilson is 81, an age at which he could be forgiven for retreating to a farm and lending his name to the occasional popular book about science. Over the past year he’s tried his hand at fiction writing, publishing a novel about ants — his scientific specialty — and landing a short story in The New Yorker. But he has also been pressing a disruptive scientific idea, one he reckons is currently in phase two of the Schopenhauer progression: outrage.

The idea is that if the group that benefits from altruism, the tribe will live to spread the genes. This “outrageous” idea by Edward O Wilson is not so silly.  Nor is it new.  It is the bread & butter of what I learned at the University of Canterbury in the 60s from Dr Bigelow.
I enjoyed his classes and book. He taught the simple idea that the unit of evolution is the “gene pool”, not the individual carrier of the genes. Amazon

Social cooperation, which leads to the Golden Rule and what we call the highest human qualities, was demanded by what we call the lowest of human qualities: the ferocity of human enemies. Shakespeare’s two opposed foes that still encamp us therefore evolved together. They were not even two different sides of the same coin, but were as intimately interdependent as our brains and hearts are. Cooperation was not substituted for conflict. Cooperation-for-conflict, considered as a single, hyphenated word, was demanded — for sheer survival.

page 7 & 8 The Dawn Warriors.

Researching this a bit more, it is evident that Wilson is adhering closely to Darwin:

It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet that an advancement in the standard of morality and an increase in the number of well-endowed men will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another. There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection (Darwin, 1891, Vol. I: 203; italics added).

Found that quote in an interesting paper on the history of these ideas while searching for Robert Bigelow AND Edmund O Wilson: Human Evolution and the Origin of War: a Darwinian Heritage

[A fitting post for Easter Sunday!]

Categories
World

A World Without Nuclear Weapons

nationbooks on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

Daniel Ellsberg, Jeremy Scahill, etc

Original invite to meeting follows.

Categories
Journal Podcasts World

How to get some sanity

I listen to Democracy Now more than any other news or current affair program. I find it gives me a better picture of the world than I can get from any NZ source. Left, not liberal, not sectarian. Amy Goodman – a hero!

I wish more people would listen to it. I found myself chatting casually about the plight of Haiti over the years because US interference and people though I was espousing conspiracy theory. Ordinary left thinking New Zealanders!

I’ll post up how I listen to Podcasts. The great thing is I walk & listen, good for my body. Good for the dog. Multitasking.

Categories
World

Withdraw all troops from Afghanistan

peacesign

This statement from Peace Action Wellington is worth supporting. Even now. They are saying they’ll be there for 5 years. Out now, IMO! Peace Action Wellington are asking for an email so you can be added to the list. I’ve just sent one.

 

STATEMENT: Hands off Afghanistan! Say no to SAS return to Afghanistan

We are encouraging organisations, grassroots community groups and individuals to sign on to our anti-war statement below. If you would like to add your name, simply email us at

peacewellington@hotmail.com

Full statement from their website follows: