Sunday, June 09, 2019

Are we genetically inclined to be generous?

It would be nice to believe that the human genome is constructed so as to find joy through contributions to the good of all. This is a claim that might require some scientific evidence. There is a popular belief in our society that our genetic structure pushes us to be selfish. In the new prefaces to Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins is at some pains to dispel the idea that the "selfishness" of our genes provides a justification for selfish behavior in humans.  But it looks like an attempt on his part to put a meme back in the bottle after if got out.  


StardustyPsyche said...

Survival of the self it the bedrock behavioral driver of the organism.

Organisms that do not behave in a manner that enhances self survival tend to quickly die in the harsh environment of nature.

Social organisms exhibit a degree of generosity, or altruism, or nurturing, or support of others because there is a net reproductive benefit to a whole population of organisms.

Human beings are by far the most complex social organisms, and thus exhibit a broad array of behaviors ranging from extreme selfishness to extreme generosity.

oozzielionel said...

Sin nature is a better construct than genetics.

Starhopper said...

Open disclosure: I do not "believe" in evolution (in the same way that I do not believe in extraterrestrial intelligence). I'm not opposed to the idea, but I dislike intensely the way some (most) people use the word as a kind of incantation. Wonder why something is so? Evolution! Genetics!

You're not actually saying anything, but it sure sounds impressive. And it's such a useful shortcut to faux wisdom. Why are some people left handed? Genetics! Why do husbands love their wives? Evolution!

It's the world's greatest labor saving device.You don't actually have to think. Just say the magic word! (And as a bonus, you can sound so-o-o-o intelligent.)

One Brow said...


Open disclosure: I do not "believe" in evolution (in the same way that I do not believe in extraterrestrial intelligence).

While I agree almost all of evolutionary psychology is bunk and your main point is valid, it would be better to say that we don't believe in evolution like we don't believe in gravity.