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  1. #11
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    not exactly what pt said!

    *whatever slinks off to hide somewhere- she's not quite awake enough to deal with being questioned at the moment*

    Also, just remembered- interesting fact on the fittest dying in wars and such- it's apparently common in some groups of Great Apes for the high ranking males to go into fights that they know that they will lose in order to protect the rest of the group. Though this might not seem like a good idea outwardly for the wellbeing of the primate group, it is thought that by doing so the offspring of the high ranking males (which pretty much = all of the primate group's young) have an increased chance at surviving and passing on thier genes!

    this makes me wonder- should soldiers be man-sluts then?
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  2. #12
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    That is what ptg said. Although the death penalty would actually be evolution in progress since we are removing the genes that are dangerous to our society. Whereas war is contradictory to evolution since we are sending our best off to die. It is definitely some shortsightedness on my part but the general idea still stands.
    War isn't counter-productive to evolution, it's just a different form of genetic trimming. The thing to keep in mind is that evolution is utterly blind. There is no good or bad, only change - and change can include extinction. From an evolutionary point of view, extinction is good... or at least, not-bad. It's like taking a whole bunch of dice and wanting 6s. You don't complain about those that don't come up "6" - that's the evolutionary dead end.

    War, or the human propensity towards war, is the same as most animals - resource based. If you have resources to support 100 people ("genes"), and another group of "genes" with the same amount of resources, the ideal situation is for one group of genes to lose all but the minimum amount to reproduce - thus being able to support one group of 200 genes. "Evolution" rewards those that have the largest gene pool, hence that group of 200, when it splits into two 100 groups and repeats the same trials, contains the genes of those that have an emphasis on war and securing resources. Thus, we are all primed for doing exactly that - equality/fairness, measurement of peers, social level and the whole "them vs us" stuff. Each are "blind" - they don't serve a purpose, exactly, they are simply the traits that "worked" to bring us where we are today.

    What % of Europeans came from the upper class 500/1000 years ago? It's shocking to discover how low the survival rate for the lower class was - it's the same principle. Our ancestors were the ones that used force to take resources... Now those same problems might invoke nuclear war (etc) and send us to extinction - thus, this was an evolutionary dead end. "Oh well", try again - roll the dice and hope 5s work out better.

    However, I think you are correct in your original post, or at least the general view makes sense. We are controlled by our evolution, our evolution is heavily influenced by resources (macro) and survival (to reproduce)(micro). The missing part is that humans are "machines" that are designed with triggers that support both, even if they contradict each other. What is bad for the individual can be good for the group (ie: I will sacrifice myself so that my tribe/children can eat.)

  3. #13
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Good post, Kiddo.

    I don't know if you were implying that only the human animal has social hierarchies, but I assume you weren't. Other animals have them too.

    With regard to controlling humans... hm. I like where you're going, except I would expand the concept of controlling survival. Survival is a product of conserving resources (food, energy) and avoiding threats (biological, physical). We don't need our conscious minds to do that because we have biological mechanisms, namely, pain and pleasure. Therefore, by controlling pain and pleasure ("comfort"), you control people. Comfort is also the mechanism that ensures reproduction, so controlling comfort gives power. This is why people are willing to trade money for drugs, why self-help gurus like Dr. Phil are filthy rich, why nuclear weapons dictate global dynamics, etc. They all prey on fear and tickle our pleasure, which is really the same thing, one just being an absence of the other.

    Ever read the Naked Ape or Peoplewatching by Desmond Morris? HIGHLY recommended, even though you should read Naked Ape critically. It's my favorite book and right in line with your thought process, just expanded.

    Edit: If you look hard enough, you'll find that nothing is ever counter-evolution. Survival of the fittest is like the law of conservation of energy (albeit circular, since the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are the fittest); you can't violate it. Even when you try, you inevitably succumb to it.

  4. #14
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post

    Also, just remembered- interesting fact on the fittest dying in wars and such- it's apparently common in some groups of Great Apes for the high ranking males to go into fights that they know that they will lose in order to protect the rest of the group. Though this might not seem like a good idea outwardly for the wellbeing of the primate group, it is thought that by doing so the offspring of the high ranking males (which pretty much = all of the primate group's young) have an increased chance at surviving and passing on thier genes!
    I think this speaks to the fact that humans couldn't and didn't evolve purely based on selfinterest and every primate for themselves. Civilization from definition only evolved out of a high degree of cooperation. Cooperation = survival.

    You can break it down to it always points to your genes or your children somehow being passed on/surviving, but I like to think at least at this stage of human evolution, we have compassion and intelligence and are capable of making moral choices.

    That's what separates humanity from (other) animals.

    I get annoyed when people cite animal instinct or jungle rules to dictate social policy that ethically or morally you would call reprehensible or unfair. Do you want to run naked through the wilderness eating raw meat like the animals you cite? Go ahead you primitivist, but we call it 'humanity' for a reason.

  5. #15
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    I get annoyed when people cite animal instinct or jungle rules to dictate social policy that ethically or morally you would call reprehensible or unfair. Do you want to run naked through the wilderness eating raw meat like the animals you cite? Go ahead you primitivist, but we call it 'humanity' for a reason.
    Well said. This is what I argue about all the time... people saying, "let everything come out, and assume all consequences are deserved," while I say, "let's consider the consequences and choose the action that has the fewest negative ones and/or the most positive ones."

  6. #16
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    Therefore, by controlling pain and pleasure ("comfort"), you control people.
    You are right, that does sound much more accurate. Control resources, reproduction, and comfort and you ultimately control human beings.

    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    Also, just remembered- interesting fact on the fittest dying in wars and such- it's apparently common in some groups of Great Apes for the high ranking males to go into fights that they know that they will lose in order to protect the rest of the group. Though this might not seem like a good idea outwardly for the wellbeing of the primate group, it is thought that by doing so the offspring of the high ranking males (which pretty much = all of the primate group's young) have an increased chance at surviving and passing on thier genes!
    I've read about other such "moral" acts before. There was that one story where the chimp jumped into the river to save his friend and the scientists were speculating on his motives. Just the other night I was watching Meerkat Manor. One pack of Meerkat's wondered into another pack's territory, and when they were challenged they ran off leaving behind one of their cubs. Apparently, Meerkat's will normally kill the offspring of other packs, but they chose to adopt the cub instead, and even protected it and carried it along. What motive could possess them to do such a thing so out of the ordinary from their normal behavior?

    I was actually reading about human motives the other day. Freud said the only two true motives are the sex urge and the desire to be great. I think many of these "moral" actions could probably be linked to that "desire to be great." We all have the inherent desire to be loved, respected, acknowledged, and appreciated. Often we would go to extraordinary lengths to attain this "greatness." Where does that desire come from?

    It obviously has an evolutionary benefit since it hasn't been weeded out of us. Perhaps it increases the likelihood that we will get more resources, or improve our chances of reproducing, or will generally ensure a more comfortable place in our society. It's a very interesting concept and I believe it was even defined as the need for "Love and belonging," by Maslow. Maybe it isn't even the desire for greatness, but rather, a need for identity in the group so as to improve our chances in life.



    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    I think this speaks to the fact that humans couldn't and didn't evolve purely based on selfinterest and every primate for themselves. Civilization from definition only evolved out of a high degree of cooperation. Cooperation = survival.
    I disagree, I think it's more like this.

    Cooperation = better ability to compete = survival.

    Thus, self interest is still the primary motivator for cooperation. If one could not better compete by cooperating, then they would not cooperate.

    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze
    You can break it down to it always points to your genes or your children somehow being passed on/surviving, but I like to think at least at this stage of human evolution, we have compassion and intelligence and are capable of making moral choices.

    That's what separates humanity from (other) animals.
    As has been said before, other animals exhibit moral behavior. Humans don't have a monopoly on compassion and intelligence. I actually have yet to see a major difference between humans and animals.

    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze
    I get annoyed when people cite animal instinct or jungle rules to dictate social policy that ethically or morally you would call reprehensible or unfair. Do you want to run naked through the wilderness eating raw meat like the animals you cite? Go ahead you primitivist, but we call it 'humanity' for a reason.
    Alternatively, such people could be called realists. They recognize that humans aren't much different than animals and will primarily act in their own self interest. They look for policies that would seem most likely to work under that premise. For example, people often argue that abstaining from sex until marriage is a moral behavior and argue that it should be the only thing that is taught in schools. Many would even see having sex before marriage as "morally reprehensible." However, realists recognize that teenagers will choose to have sex if they want to because they will act in their own self interest regardless of what others want. Realists will also point out how counterproductive it is to deny young people the education to practice sex safely and how it is "ethically unfair".

    This particular argument has always intrigued me. On one end you have those who are trying to be better than animals by sticking to "morals" (traditional behaviors) regardless of how "unfair" they may be. On the other end you have those who are trying to exist as practically in line with nature as possible by sticking to "ethics" (principle of living) regardless of how "reprehensible" they may be. It seems to be another contradiction.

  7. #17
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Cooperation = better ability to compete = survival.
    I agre with everything posted, but just wanted to point out that, in evolutionary terms, it should be generalised to

    Cooperation = better ability to reproduce = survival
    or
    Cooperation = better survivability = survival

    The distinction is important because it isn't just a tool for competition - if, for example, one gene pool that cooperates can support more children (say, by raising children in groups, such as tribal parenting), then they will reproduce and spread faster than a competitive group. This is also true when there are no competitions between gene pools (for example, a cooperative society can survive more natural disasters).

    However, there is no morality behind cooperation or competition. Humans are the sum of the evolutionary pressures behind both and we use both all the time. There is healthy competition, or rather, required competition... and there is unhealthy competition... the same goes for cooperation. There is no safety net, no "moral" imperative in nature. If cooperation, say via social welfare, causes an evolutionary dead end through allowing stratification of genes without pruning, we will cooperate ourselves out of existance (presuming an outside pressure, like an uncooperative genepool/society). Likewise with competition.

    We simply don't know the end effect of any of these influences. The answer to almost any question "why do we do this" is a wave of a hand "Because we are programmed to"... Presuming active self-interest isn't the best course of action... we are programmed for a limited amount of self interest, since that gets us resources and children... but we are also programmed with a limited sense of group identity and so forth.

    "Morality", such as the protection of children and so forth, all stem from those pressures... Every human system does. A moral choice is a choice that is line with the evolutionary needs we have been imprimted with. In that sense, we are no different than animals. The only argument here is the argument of awareness, but even this is a matter of degree. It's a common occurance to find out that another "just human" behaviour is found in the wild.

  8. #18
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Very good points. Perhaps the only difference between humans and other animals is that our behaviors have evolved to become so diverse. We demonstrate more ecological, psychological, and social behaviors than any other living creature on the planet. We've even developed systems to control the evolution of these behaviors. Wouldn't that be a strange twist for all the bigots out there in the world? What if what makes us human is our diversity?

  9. #19
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Very good points. Perhaps the only difference between humans and other animals is that our behaviors have evolved to become so diverse. We demonstrate more ecological, psychological, and social behaviors than any other living creature on the planet. We've even developed systems to control the evolution of these behaviors. Wouldn't that be a strange twist for all the bigots out there in the world? What if what makes us human is our diversity?
    IMO, what really happened is that a certain strain of genes and a certain environment pushed humans down the +awareness (compared to +instincts) and +tools (ie: tune environment, not ourselves). These paths both encourage diversity (ie: a tool can change on the situation, but the human is not bound to the normal rules of natural selection... ie: awareness allows an immediate adaptive way of dealing with the environment)...

    So, diversity (in the sense we are using, not in the pure "genetically diverse", just a lack of pruning) is the outcome of the methods of survival. In a way, it is what makes us human (although I'd say what makes us human leads to diversity). This is gaining speed, regardless of what we may think - despite the "conflict" nature of humans, the nation states, tribalism and so forth, cultures and gene groups are mixing increasingly peacefully.

  10. #20
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    I disagree, I think it's more like this.

    Cooperation = better ability to compete = survival.

    Thus, self interest is still the primary motivator for cooperation. If one could not better compete by cooperating, then they would not cooperate.
    Hmm, aren't you contradicting yourself and the example you just gave about 'moral group behavior' in a group of meerkats? It's hard to have conversations about 'morality' and 'ethics' versus 'animal instinct' or 'survival instincts' if your definitions of such keep changing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    As has been said before, other animals exhibit moral behavior. Humans don't have a monopoly on compassion and intelligence. I actually have yet to see a major difference between humans and animals.
    All animals? I'll bet the animals that you can cite as having 'human like' behavior" i.e. compassions etc. are mammals and 9/10 are some sort of primate.

    And you have to uniformly interpret actions -- either the actions of a living thing to 'help' or 'rescue' a pack member/friend in humans or animals is an example of moral or ethical behavior or else it's all purely self-preservational and self-interest.

    You can't cite the same instance of an animal/human 'saving' a non-relative and call it animal instinct for one and moral for another. Or are you?

    And sure, there are animals that will 'go to bat' for one another, like jump into altercations, scare off predators, or try to rescue one another. But if you wanted to get all cynical survivalist about it, you could say any kind of overture of this manner is a form of self-preservation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post

    This particular argument has always intrigued me. On one end you have those who are trying to be better than animals by sticking to "morals" (traditional behaviors) regardless of how "unfair" they may be. On the other end you have those who are trying to exist as practically in line with nature as possible by sticking to "ethics" (principle of living) regardless of how "reprehensible" they may be. It seems to be another contradiction.
    I skipped a lot of posts here. Did you already define morality and ethics and the difference between the two? And they are both highly subjective and influenced by culture and society.

    My two cents again is that I'm not really into philosophizing about humanity vs. nature, how humans are just bipedal animals who learned the wonders of hygiene, etc.

    I guess for me this kind of philosophizing doesn't have much point for me. I often seen it applied in a political context, or rather an apolitical context that is far removed from any actual application to real world events.

    Or people get so caught up with really a purely philosophical conversation instead of questioning the dynamics and psychology of why 'tragedies' happen -- and try to solve them or prevent them.

    This may not be your intention but the whole 'people are animals' line is tied into the idea that either we will never truly understand humanity, therefore are unable to pass judgement on something we don't understand. Or the flip opposite, people are nothing more than animal instincts, therefore letting people off the hook for any kind of socially deemed transgression. Basically, people can't help themselves. I also often see it applied to war/criminals, serial killers, etc.

    I guess I'm not very articulate today, but this pisses me off to no end Especially in the context of community and political organizing or just engaging with society, I feel like there are so many naysayers and otherwise apathetic people who let horrible stuff happen with this detached or even cynical "humans are just animals" aka "that's just the way things are".

    I just want to shake these people by the shoulders and say, "Snap out of it! You live HERE in the REAL WORLD. People have BRAINS, we have an economy based on COMMERCE and LABOR and MONEY. We have LANGUAGE and HIGHER FUNCTIONING INTELLIGENCE. Get over it and please join us in the 21st century."

    Okay, okay, I'm in a cranky mood. And this rant isn't directed at the OP, but these kind of arguments or focus on the philosophical nature of humanity really does remind me of how they are so often related (IMHO) to apathy, cynicism, and really people who knowingly or not, get in the way of engaged citizens who are trying to work with the practical tools in society -- laws, legislature, electoral government, lobbying, etc. to IMPROVE society ergo humanity ergo help use rise further from pure base animal instincts and simplified excuses.

    I think the point of civilization is to rise out of any need or justification to live just like animals.

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