Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.
It could be an adaptation to living in groups.
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Recently, I red that it has been identified a altrusitic gene, which was from an ancestral and solitary unicellular organism. Upon evolution from unicellular to multicellular organism, pluricellular algae for example, clusters of some cells have renounced at their pluripotent phenotype, and they established a sterile soma, whose ending scope is to protect the germinal lineage. What do you think about this reductionist approach?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream
Part of the issue is historical - the idea that some features evolve because they are useful to and perpetuate the group got really unpopular when "social Darwinism" was used to justify a lot of bad things. Classic selection works at the individual level to change groups, but there is a lot of resistance to discussions of group dynamics contributing to the evolution of specific traits. So when your mind is saying, "of course altruism could evolve due to the way it benefits groups," you'll find a lot of material rejecting the very concept.
There is more confusion over the "altruism" subject than most everything else! Even the word is useless. All conduct described by the word falls into the catagory of maternalism and paternalism in that mothers serve the interests of their offspring and the alpha males protect the herd or group. Thus, both men and women are instinctively, in certain conditions, willing to risk their life to protect their children and, with the males, the whole troop, group, herd or society. All altruism is conditioned forms of this basic instinctive proclivity in us and all other social animals. Individuals living outside the group in such animals have a low survival rate. The traits are a product of natural selection.
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My main problem with concepts such as altruism and egoism is that these are merely human concepts. Nature selects strategies that work, that's all.
Now, if the environment is limited in resources it seems that competition between individuals for energy and nutrients ensures the individual's own survival, but under conditions of abundance competition becomes less important and cooperative strategies become more successful.
The synergystic effects of the cooperative approach may be so beneficiary to the group, that even once conditions becom less favourable the cooperative approach still prevails.
Besides, something that is often seen as altruistic can be quite egoistic depending on your point of view and vice versa.
As to the original question: research kin-selection. Avoid social darwinism stuff (human altruism) because that can get slippery. Look for case studies involving simple organisms.
What did the parasitic Candiru fish say when it finally found a host? - - "Urethra!!"
"Slippery?" Why avoid evolution when dealing with societies just because Darwin, Hitler and E.O.Wilson got it all wrong? Race has nothing to do with it! Societies are not based on race but on religion, the religion, that is, that bonds its believers into huge societies like Islam, the West or Christendom, the Hindu society and the East Asian Marxist society. Right now, the world is undergoing a natural selection process involving these huge mainstream societies. In a century from now, they will not all be here. In two centuries, probably all of them will be gone, having been replaced by much better ones. People need to read world history to get some perspective. Newspaper and TV news is only one dimensional.
MODERATOR edit: Quote fixed for correct attribution
I just wanted to clarify that the quote in Charles Brough's post was wrongly attributed to myself.
I personally am not sure where I stand on Social Darwinism. On the one hand, human behaviour is clearly governed by natural processes that can be explained scientifically and which can be interpreted from a Darwinist perspective. On the other hand, Social Darwinism has often been used as a justification for war and violence and I reject those interpretations of Darwin's work. In my personal opinion, cooperation could be seen as a much more powerful engine of evolution compared to competition. How you see it is basically down to interpretation and therefore no longer strictly in the realms of exact science. As long as you are able to distinguish interpretation from facts you should be OK though. It gets dangerous when the lines get blurred and interpretation is presented as fact.
Humans have the huge power to shape the environment we live in unlike any other species. This feedback mechanism changes the rules of the game on a constant basis. Perhaps it would be useful to stop thinking in terms of hierarchies and accept that different systems have their individual pros and cons.
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