2 years ago
handregrub
in English · 39,667 Views
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Life in the universe, human nature and the source of creativity.
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I love well articulated and thoughtful analyses of our understanding of life, evolution, and the universe. This video really rings home to me, regardless of whether I approach it from a scientific perspective, a religious one, a curious one, whatever it is, I feel that E.O. Wilson offers some pretty fantastic insight. Spoiler alert, the salient take away I grabbed from this is as follows: Within a group it is the selfish individuals that beat out the altruistic ones; however, a group that is altruistic in the majority, will defeat another group that consists primarily of those that are selfish. Finally, and most importantly, there is no equilibrium in this, the absence of one will in fact spawn the other, and this is the nature of humans. It is this conflict that is the source of human creativity. I challenge you to express something that is contrary to this, I'd love to hear your perspectives, but it is just this struggle that really illuminates things for me.
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5 comments
Thank you for sharing this! It was great stuff. I'm still thinking about a response to your takeaway, but first I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the part about ways in which we get "ET" or aliens in movies wrong. "Just don't give them claws!" The whole section on how they would not be carnivores and how they would be altruistic, not just to their own species, was so interesting to me.
@orenshani7 I think you would enjoy this video and discussion, judging from your posts in Philosophy and Social Consciousness. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.
I guess it is too much to ask that the altruistic would always be in the majority. But I guess that's the instability. I'm left wondering why it in fundamentally human to have that conflict. I'm wondering what people think about this - actually maybe @JonPatrickHyde you have some thoughts about this - whether conflict is too high of a price to pay for the beauty of our creativity. Would we sacrifice our creativity for greater equilibrium? I'm not saying that's what I think - but rather that it is an interesting dilemma brought out by this argument. What do you think, @handregrub?
I think that this universe is based on laws or rules which favor balance. Lightening is the discharge of static electricity into the atmosphere or into the ground which brings a balance between the two (cloud to cloud, internal inside a cloud, ground to sky and sky to ground). Doesn't matter. It brings an electrical balance back into existence. There are countless examples in physics, chemistry, and bio-chemistry - our body's reaction to any number of foreign substances is simply our body's mechanism(s) for returning our systems back into balance. And as this logic would suggest - when something throws our body (or the environment, etc...) so far out of balance that they system cannot correct for it - the system fails... our bodies fail... the environment dies... In human behavior. I also feel that some sort of balance between individual goals and the betterment of society have to be reached to enable progress. If there is no personal motivation or subsequent reward for engaging in this or that behavior, then you'll find the drive to participate in the behavior deteriorates and we move on to other things. At the same time you can't blindly or carelessly do whatever you want without concern for those around you because the accepted (general) construct of our society says that we must work together for our society to function. You can look at our history, sociological - etc... to see why we formed communities - strength in numbers - sharing work loads, etc... Just as all other higher primates live in troupes or communities of some sort. I think what trips us up is the notion of morality and the varying definitions of what is "moral" as you move from one group to another. I know from my personal experience in Corporate America - bet you never figured you'd read someone quote Corp America experience as a great teacher of history in systems... LOL... In sales systems where the sales people are expected to work off 100% commission; if your company wants to continually motivate these sales people and provide incentive for their "staying hungry", you'd never want to cap their potential commission rate. Example - You sell "X" product and it costs "Y" amount, your commission is "Z". If you sell "Q" product, which is far more difficult to sell and it costs "Y multiplied by 4", you'd expect a commission of "Z multiplied by 4". But a lot of companies set themselves up for disaster by saying - no. If you sell "Q", your commission is only "Z". The same as if you sold the cheaper-easier product. Or perhaps it is "Z multiplied by 1.5 or even 2". But it's not the factor of 4 that you would assume makes sense. You've created an imbalance in the system. And when sales of "Q" plummet you have to look at the imbalance and correct it or face long-term sales and profit (potential) limitations. This is the same in a society. And honestly, this is the reality of why social systems like communism break down. There will always be individuals who will display a stronger desire to acquire their personal goals than others around them. And these individuals will fight any system - through subversion, denial/unwillingness to conform, or through outright rebellion - that doesn't allow for the attainment of their desired goals. We are all individuals with different skills, abilities, dreams, desires, and motivations. The trick to making an altruistic system work is to recognize that there has to be motivations and rewards to individuals whose contributions provide for the advancement and enhancement of the system. I believe that we (human beings) have moved into new and uncharted evolutionary territory. Once we mastered the ability to control our environment... through mass farming, environmental/ geoengineering (climate control in our homes and places of work), antibiotics and modern medicine - we've negated or completed halted the natural evolutionary process through which our species has evolved. From this belief I've also come to believe that the next stage of our evolution will occur internally - not as the result of any external/physical influence, but through the continued expansion of our collective intelligence (what we know is cumulative - breakthroughs in knowledge and technology are built on previous breakthroughs, etc...), and our mental/intellectual capacity. At some point as a species we have to become truly self-aware... meaning not in the sense that we can recognize our own motivations and plot a course to achieve our individual goals - but we have to recognize how our individual actions have far-reaching effects for those around us and for many, many generations to come. The corporate executive who chooses profit over the environment - needs to be selected for extinction. The politician who would use race to divide so they can continue to maintain their political clout - they have to go. The military commander that decides to let fear dictate their actions and they choose to engage in war instead of seeking another course of action - and the people who form the governments who would mask their greed and/or fear in the horrors of war - for their own gain We have to universally reject such behaviors. We're going to have to evolve to a place where through our intellect and the application of logic and reason, we can override our animal instincts (fight or flight behaviors). Only then can I see an altruistic society succeeding. Until then we have to constantly work towards a better balance between what we want (as individuals) and what we need to provide as productive, helpful members of society. If we don't, we'll destroy this planet and our our species. The real sin would be in doing so, we'll destroy all of the other species on this planet. I personally don't want any such blood on my hands... one day at a time I'm struggling to evolve - to be more aware of my actions and how I can help to make this a better world for everyone around me and not just myself.