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September 09, 2018


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Nice post even though I disagree with the claim that humans universally prefer selfless others. Aside from that aspect of our nature varying from culture to culture, I think that the existence of celebrities, deified warlords and a lot of other bad characters speaks against it.

From what I can tell, people love heroes. They love things bigger than themselves, and they'll gladly allow huge personas to thrive regardless of the character of the person with the charisma.

 "I would contend that we inherently dislike selfish, arrogant, and greedy people because they detract from group survival."

And yet, there are the alpha males and alpha females, who are the leaders, the chiefs in the clans and tribes. So people dislike selfish, arrogant, and greedy people who climb to the top, but the weak will follow them willingly.

This dislike is very evident in today's world with the hatred for Trump, who is perceived by a lot of people as being selfish, arrogant and greedy, even though he is fulfilling his promises in making America great again, and that is about group survival.

I agree with what was shared in this post and also understand where Jesse and Jen are coming from. Humans with a strong conscience reflect more of the selfless altruism and love as a survival instinct. And it’s true that we all love a hero, but that is also part of our survival instinct. Clearly there are negative forces in this world which “heroes” theoretically save us from.

Tribalism is a form of survival.

However, those with a strong conscience tend not not fall into the category of the weak who follow these warlords for their survival. A strong conscience gives one the ability to face truth head on and fight against the Trumps of the world.

But yes, it is ALL ABOUT SURVIVAL.

In this world, sacrifice for the greater good is the ultimate act of survival and love.

My husband is a very loving, generous and ethical person. And as he would say, “soldier up!”.

Jen wrote: "This dislike is very evident in today's world with the hatred for Trump, who is perceived by a lot of people as being selfish, arrogant and greedy, even though he is fulfilling his promises in making America great again, and that is about group survival."

-- The qualities that make Trump repellent to some are the same ones that endear him to others. Why is this? Some people see the best way to survive as a society is submission of self for the greater good while others see the best way to survive as a society is assertion of self for the greater good, i.e. socialism vs capitalism, big government vs limited government, group rights vs individual rights, regulation vs freedom, and so on. But there are no absolutes and with a polarized society the necessary middle ground is eroding quickly. Homeostasis becomes harder to achieve resulting in potential for chaotic breakdown of the organism.

Just thinking out loud; if the world were ever in a complete state of homeostasis, what would that look like? Survival is our most basic instinct and yet we all know we’re going to die sooner or later.

On another note: my brother, who’s somewhat of a scientific and mathematical wizard, is always saying to me, “How can you disprove something that you cannot prove?”. To which I respond 🤷‍♀️.

@ Brian - the head line is so apt and true! Man will do anything to another man in war to survive ! Right I’m tired and need to rest as carrying huge weighted “stuff” tired one out!!

Sleep well folks

People "nearly universally" admire selfless people and dislike selfish people. The alpha male leader may warrant that qualifier. The alpha male thrives to the extent that their followers envision him as enabling better survival for themselves, their family, etc. The distasteful behavior is tolerated so far as they/their group are benefitting or perceive themselves (or their group) as benefitting.

But a self-obsessed leader is, ipso facto, a bad leader because whenever the interests of the populace contravene his own, he will act in his own favor. In terms of arrogance, I would contend that even the alpha male leader's arrogance is not genuinely admired, unless it is misconstrued as strength or confidence. If the leader were not perceived as enhancing their survival, I doubt the arrogance would still be "admired".

Also, keep in mind that the "group" in group survival can range from ones nuclear family, to one's nation/race/culture, all the way to the species as a whole. In the broadest evolutionary sense, group survival applies to Homo sapiens as a whole.

In a socio-political sense, the current poltical state of affairs has demonstrated that many Americans have a very insular, circumscribed view of what constitutes their group. Anything that is perceived as threatening to their self-identified group is perceived as threatening to their very own survival. This is the cause of scourges ranging from racism to the hegemony of special interest groups and beyond.

JB you're so wrong it hurts me to read.
If you think that self interest is an uniquely American trait, maybe ask yourself why the largest migration in all of human history was into the USA.
Take India for example where people are afraid to move between states because if they look "chinky" in Mumbai they're likely to be attacked.

Or what about Kuwait where immigration isn't even allowed outside of the purposes of domestic help.

What about Israel where East Africans are held in interment camps and tricked into being sterilized because the Ashenazim and Sephardim don't accept black people as Jews.

USA is uniquely NOT self interested and ethno centric. It'll likely be our downfall in the end because human nature has a way of dealing with trangeessors of its laws in brutal ways.

I never said that America is unique in its self-interest. I don't think the US is unique in having people that are racist, nationalistic, etc. I simply speak about America because this is where I live.

It's still a strange conflation to me. Self interest didn't lead to the "hegemony of special interest groups." It's likely that the lack of self interest both as individuals but also ethic groups allowed special interest groups to thrive in the vacuum of identitylessness.

I hope identitylessness becomes a word some day.

My larger point is that the "spiritual" traits such as love and compassion have their origin in the survival instinct. Some have cited the phenomenon of love as constituting evidence of God or some transcendent realm. The existence of love in no way points to the existence of any God or anything "spiritual" but is simply a survival tactic.

Even in communist/socialist systems there are those who rise as leaders. It is required for cohesiveness and direction of purpose. Egalitarian/communal tribes usually have a leader or "chief". Someone has to have the last word and be the boss. Assertion of personal qualities such as ambition and leadership are not necessarily bad things because people ride on the coat tails of such individuals and benefit via their example and inspiration. The leader's success becomes their success. Very thick books have been written about this. You know, Ayn Rand and others. But it's basic common sense and really. quite simple.

@ lol. Enjoying reading this sociology lessons! What a load of trite! We you travel the world as we do - you realise what really drives people!!! And idiotic leaders of so called great countries!

I would respectfully beg to differ, thinking for instance of a particular "gun rights" special interest. They have represented a malignant mixture of paranoia, irrational fear, and rampant greed—all of which are overtly symptomatic of survival anxiety run amok.

Also, the unfettered influence of "dark money" can certainly be categorized under the rubric of special interest. This influence ensures that the survival of an exceedingly tiny economic minority depends on effectively blocking the political will of the economic majority. Many of this class have ostensibly linked their very own survival to the accumulation of obscene quantities of wealth. In many respects, our government is a de facto plutocracy. But all of this is another story indeed and a bit of a digression from main thrust of the post.

JB wrote: "I would respectfully beg to differ, thinking for instance of a particular "gun rights" special interest. They have represented a malignant mixture of paranoia, irrational fear, and rampant greed—all of which are overtly symptomatic of survival anxiety run amok."

--Some individuals exhibit those traits even in such diverse areas as dietetics, politics, law, medicine, finance (as you mentioned) environment, etc. Yet we don't seek to ban medicine, law or politics. The vast majority of gun owners and gun rights advocates are not psychos and unbalanced fanatics as evidenced by over 300 million guns in the United States never being used to commit a crime. Do we remove their right to self defense because a small percentage of sick SOB's create mayhem? Settlers in the Old West wouldn't think of being without a gun. No difference now. There are predators of the worst kind in urban jungles and pastoral rural areas alike. Many opponents of gun rights have not been victims of violent crime. You know the old saying sagaciously passed down from generation to generation, "a progressive is someone who hasn't been mugged yet". Once the reality of that possibility sinks in, people often re-think the issue of gun ownership. Personally, I prefer edged weapons, but that's another story.

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