Thursday 26 July 2007

Altruism- The Ultimate Self Interest

Whatever, we might think, there is nothing random about the choices we make.
They may be wrong, but we make them for a reason.

The apparently higher sentiments, those which distinguish from the animals, our artistic sense, our love of poetry all serve a survival purpose.
To keep our intelligence and our communication abilities at maximimum fitness.
They are the survival tools of the species.
They just happen to be unique to our species.

But there are those who say that altruism, the putting first of others, the helping of the weak, the dieing to save a friend, can not be explained by the laws of natural selection.
Not in accord with the idea of the 'selfish gene.'


We are a co-operative species. Like many predators, we evolved to adopt the strength in numbers rule. The genes survive and get passed on best, which made this mode of existence work best.
Put simply, the more people survive, the better chance you have of being one of them.
The more people that breed in the future, the better chance your own genes have of being passed on.
Evolution works very simply, but leads to complexity.
The simple bit, is what works best, lasts longest.
The complex bits are the amazingly efficient models of survival that have resulted.

In a non- co-operative species, a gene truly is selfish. It is in competition with all life, barring itself.
But in a species like man, the conflict with his own kind is a secondary one.
Ultimately, the genes in man are there to serve themselves first, but the whole human gene pool best.
Your selfish genes want a nice big future gene pool to cascade through, in the coming millenia.

Your genes don't just choose the partners with the genes you want to procreate with, they look out for other genes that they might want to procreate with down the line, when you yourself are dead and gone.

And so they choose your friends for you.
You make friends who you connect with.
Who think like you.
And your genes think that these might be good parents for the partners of your children.

Why the attraction of arranged marriage?
The genetic attraction of the parents...

And we die for those we emote to, to preserve the genes that one day may preserve our own.

We help the weak to give them another day, to give their genes another chance, to throw more numbers at nature, because survival is a numbers game.
As is evolution itself.

So to be truly self-serving, you need to stop focussing just on number one.
When you feel compassion, pity, the urge to put your arms round a mate, you're meant to.
You evolved those urges for a reason- by the most ruthless of mechanisms.
You were given those feelings by 'nature red in tooth and claw.'

We evolved to Love, because it really IS the best way.


Anonymous said...

I alwasy think that mixing in the gene pool is a good strengthens the genes. Some people have a hard time with the mixed blood kind of thing like white & black or whatever...but I think it makes the genes stronger, healthier, and weeds out the years and years of inbreeding!

Anonymous said...

I would be happy to mix in a gene pool with you Jenny! Is it a bit like a Hot Tub? I think Mr Ingsoc has made a nice serious post Jenny, and he does not deserve your flippant remark. I was going to write a long answer to the last post but I have not had time to catch up as "Hyperdrive" was on...

Anonymous said...

Mutley mixing it up wiht me is nothing like a hot tubs are crab farms...I don't want to breed with that!

Do you really think i was being disrespectful to Crushed's post?

Anonymous said...

To love and to be loved is all we are here for, everything else is just icing. As we evolve, we certainly attain a higher level of love - a love beyond human consciousness. A love with the understanding that we have to give it away to receive more, but that's part of our purpose, being spiritual benefactors and increasing our value as spiritual beings.

Btw, awesome post.

Anonymous said...

Crushed said:

"Your genes don't just choose the partners with the genes you want to procreate with, they look out for other genes that they might want to procreate with down the line, when you yourself are dead and gone."

So, my question to you is this:

What about the gay gene? Are you saying gay people have selfish genes because they can't procreate?

Oh, I bet I stir up some shit with this question.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think about tossing a coin or playing craps for my future decisions... stupid, I know, but fate can't do worse then I can, can it? LOL

Anonymous said...

Jenny- I certainly agree with you. I do find myself attracted to other ethnicities, but I know some people aren't.
It would be positive if more people were, if only because it brought down racial barriers quicker- after all, they won't last for ever, but while they do, they cause a lot of problems.
There is still a lot of hostility, on both sides of the atlantic to white girls going with black men (people seem to accept it the other way round, which speaks volumes), but personally, I have a lot of respect for women who do.

Mutley- You're right, it DOES sound fun.
Anyone else up for a frolic in the gene pool, or is just me and Jenny?

Alexys- We are designed to be fulfilled by what is positive for the species.
Everything is logical and has purpose.
It's not in fact naive utopianism to believe Love can change the world.
It's our driving instinct, so it does every day.

Shelly- we are a co-operative species. This means your selfish genes adopt very clever strategies to survive.
There are a number of theories involving the so-called gene, but what is clear is, genes that serve no purpose do not proliferate.
The fact that human sexuality is so diverse suggests that serves other functions than pure reproduction.
One of these is clearly a bonding mechanisms.

The simple fact that such a relatively large proportion of humanity are gay, when such a gene logically should become extinct quite quickly, suggests that in fact, it must carry huge positive dividends to survive- think about the logistics of the survival of this gene.

Dawkins said his book 'The Selfish Gene', could just as easily be called 'The co-operative' gene.

One thing we can for sure, in some very real way, homosexuality must be a positive development somehow- something that adds to human existence.

Heart- I suppose we're back to the whole free will versus pre-determination thing here.
I'm often hopeless at making decisions myself, but bear in mind that most coins actually come down tails ever so slightly more than they come down heads.
This is because the metal is slightly weighted towards the head side.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Crushed, this is all nonsense. The world was created in 7 days, end of story.


Anonymous said...

Or was it 6? I forget.

Anonymous said...

CBI. I'd be happy to frolic with Jenny but I don't like to share so Mutley and yourself are out. My genes are selfish that way.

It's funny though how modern social engineering has attempted to stop this sort of natural sharing.

First the church with one partner, faithful till then etc. then the government with you must provide for your offspring. So one quick bonk has you tied up for life.

The side effect then is that we become more selfish as a whole as our primal needs are subdued by the ordersofour masters.

I remember reading a book on the order of things. First food then a safe haven then partners and only then when we feel stable do we truly consider others. That one rings very true to me. My granddaughter is happy to share her sweets, food etc. because there is always more(Dinosaurs: That is what more means) Not so good at sharing items like toys where there is only one of.

Anonymous said...

you must provide for your offspring

Surely it is natural selection that encourages women to pick fathers for their children who are likely to be good providers for them?

For better or worse we have abolished natural selection in the rich world.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post. I'd argue, though, that it potentially overvalues the input of the selfish gene and undervalues the influence of society and its values (or even "memes" if you prefer). Our instincts for love/hatred altruism/selfishness may at base be the product of our genetic evolution but they have also been overlaid by the effects of thousands of years of human thought. Dawkins himself has stated that one of humanity's great gifts is its ability to escape its genetic programming and work ona higher level - driven, if you will, by the consciousness and not the chromosomes.

Anonymous said...

I would have been so impressed with you knowing that had it not been dependant on which country's currency we're speaking of! LOL

But a nice try...! ;)

Have a great weekend - I'm off!

Anonymous said...

Does this explain why I feel a deep compulsion to kick George W Bush in the balls ?


Anonymous said...

As someone who swims in the shallow end of the gene pool, I'd like to request bumping gills with mutleythedog, just to see what kinda freaks we could create.

Anonymous said...

Ed- I can't see we've abolished it. The dynamic that lead us to choose our partners may have changed from savannah days, it doesn't mean we don't do it. Possession of assets is a sound sexual selector, from a survival point of view.
But it isn't the only one. Genes are inclined to be forward thinking.
Quite simply, Genes that put all their eggs in one basket have been elimated over the aeons. High specialisation is a problem when the environment changes.
So genes that spread their choices over multiple sexual selectors benefit.
Hence the huge diversity in human attraction.

Bag- I agree with you wholeheartedly, in fact the topic is scheduled in for a post soon. We have a long way to go in terms of sexual liberation. Monogamy is a strange social perversion, like eunuchs, a cross we feel compelled to bear for reasons that are no longer relevant.

Unpremiditated- Its does undermine these factors, but we should all these factors as coming from a cause.
Evn when we apparently work against our genes, the fact is self-interest leads us to do.
Self-Interest leads to survival, which leads to genes being passed on.
By driving us to understand our genes, by enabling us to see it's plight we still further its ends.
So who's really driving?

Now when and if artificial intelligence evolves THEN the subject gets interesting...

Heart- It's true for most currencies. The design on the head said tends to be bigger, with more metal in the boss.

Merlin- I suspect the snipers would have you before your knee made contact!

It's funny, there's few politicians I feel that violently against. I dislike most of them, but the only one I really loathe is Charles Clarke, so much so I intend to volunteer at the next election to help the Norwich South Liberal Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Steph- It's Summer here, so the gene pool is the place to be.
So there's You, Mutley, Jenny, Me, splashing round in the gene pool...

Anyone else coming?

Anonymous said...

Bag said..."CBI. I'd be happy to frolic with Jenny but I don't like to share so Mutley and yourself are out. My genes are selfish that way."

Sorry Bag...but Mutley and Crushed come 1st! They my boys!

Anonymous said...

Newbie from nourishing obscurity -
Great illustration at the top, and I heartily agree with some of your sentiments on the gene pool - but then I am biased.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Crushed - what I meant was that society has absolved a mother's responsibility to choose her children's father carefully.

Anonymous said...

Do you believe some gene pools are more superior then others? Such as black versus whites? Females versus males?

Or retards versus Einsteins?

Or better yet, do you think we, as a society, should have the legal right to get rid of some gene pools? Do you think it would really eliminate diseases, make us more intelligent, or create a better world to live in in the long run?

The last question didn't stir up any shit, so maybe this one will.


Please don't send me to the gas chambers.

Anonymous said...

Shelley, in a word "no". Because even "retards" may have a trait which comes in useful, when the environment changes or whatever, which might mean that the human race could survive. This is why diversity in all its forms is important.

Anonymous said...

Another thought-provoking post, Crushed, with great comments, too. I would have to agree with Ed that diversity is extremely important in the grand scheme. It is the whole nature via nurture thing, certain "natural" traits can be repressed for the betterment of society while other "unnatural" traits can be encouraged and developed.

This altruism isn't necessarily exclusive to the human race, however. Most herding/flocking/pack species evidence extraordinary acts of what could be altruism even across species.

Harmony, it seems, is the language of group survival...

Anonymous said...

Jenny- You are such a sweetie!I'm always blaming my genes. Some people don't buy the excuse.

McEwen- All blogs lead to blogs. Commentors diffuse through blogs in some great patterns.
Why biased?

Ed- Not so, primarily women seek good communicators. Good communicators are the most essential of people, they drive the species.
Those of us who advertise our assets- as in, are chatty, friendly, know how to use our eyes, know the right conversation (as in, have twigged how the whole thing works to get laid) pass the test.

Simple Darwinism at work.
A man who is confident enough to flaunt himself even if he isn't a physical Adonis, is a man who carries good coping with life genes.
Trust me, if it's sexy, it has good genes.

Shelly- Now THAT is a can of worms!

It's a taboo subject, Eugenics, which is dangerous, because we are going to have to deal with the issue.
First, I would say that knowledge always brings moral issues.
But you can't make the knowledge go away.
Like Atomic power, it's a double edged sword.

Eugenics suffers from the bad press the Nazis and people gave it.
The problem is what indicators do you value?
Using race was retrospectively a prejuduced misuse.
But I think we can all agree that some traits are desirable, and some clearly less so.
But we really do have to know what we are doing first.

And we have to free our minds from a lot of subjective baggage concerning who is and who isn't desirable.
If it was demonstrably clear that a certain gene was undesirable, say a serial killer gene, then if we could elimate it, we should.
And an Einstein gene if there was one, could do with a helping hand.

Helen- Insects are a very good example of a collective species.
I think our evolution is in a collective direction, much as our current modes of thought fight this.

Anonymous said...

Cool... cool... COOL! This was a really good post. One I'd choose to keep and someday include in a book of philosophy ;-) Nice piece of work! :-)

Anonymous said...

Jenny, fair enough. One has to stay faithful to your heart.

Anonymous said...

Hope for us all then!

Good post although a bit sanctimonious at times. Can I take it you belong to a Rotary Club or similar?

Anonymous said...

so now exlain to me why so many nice, heterosexual women go and for gay men, Crushed. Is there a genetic reason?

Anonymous said...

Eve- It'll always be in the archives!
Thanks for the compliment.

Bag- She is a swwetheart, isn't she?

Jeremy- I am not a Rotarian, no. Not quite respectable, me, I'm afraid.

Welshcakes- I would hazard a guess that Gay men still have all the other genes, intelligence, charm etcetera, but also look like good parents in the nurturing sense. Women, like men, have divided aims, but one of them is to find someone to help in childrearing.
Gay men possibly seem to fit that description better.