Hard-wired 12: Know thy enemy

Nobody seriously can deny that our evolutionary journey, from the simplest chemical compounds to the complex organisms we know as Homo sapiens involved extreme callousness and even casual cruelty.

Survival of the fittest has never been noted for its compassion. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we must always remain slaves to ‘nature red in tooth and claw’. The selfishness of natural selection is not the model for a compassionate society.

As Richard Dawkins put it in his groundbreaking 1976 book The selfish gene:

“Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.“

To put it another way……

Know thy enemy!

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