Date sent: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 22:39:26 -0500
From: Robert Owen <email@example.com>
Organization: The Orion Institute
Subject: Re: Selfishness (Was: Re: Polemics for longevity)
Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
> J R Molloy wrote:
> > When I use the word selfishness, I mean the instinctive, biological, congenital
> > behavior that derives from unconscious evolution. To transcend biological
> > imperatives, one needs to supplant the biologically-implanted selfish gene with
> > a non-biological, inorganic, non-carbon based entity.
> > To remain selfish, immured in the idea of "self," means to remain an animal.
> Hello J.R.,
> You know, of course, that a hypothesis if gaining credibility among
> evolutional biologists that "cooperation" as a primordial genetic deter-
> minant of behavior may be as, or more, fundamental that "competition"
> relative to natural selection.
> The basic question asked is: why is their not nothing but unicellular life
> on earth? Why are we not all bacteria?
> What needs to be explained, in this view, is what would cause quint-
> essentially successful unicellular organisms to form communities and
> eventually a differentiation of labor in the development of multicellular
> organisms such as ourselves. Whatever the cause, the effect obviously
> had survival value. Interestingly, it seems to be turning out that our
> most threatening predator, our natural enemy, is our constituent
> ancestor, the bacterium.
> This hypothesis equates this "cause" with what we call "sociality", or
> more simply, "cooperation". It is not merely that each constituent
> unit is perfectly selfish and in operating without the slightest interest
> in other units is so integrated into the whole that the survival of the
> organization is enhanced. To take one example, this organization will
> subordinate the interests of units to the the survival of the brain,
> sacrificing them as needed in the interests of collective survival.
> Autophagia of muscle tissue to supply the brain with essential nutrients
> is a case in point.
The two standard texts on cooperation, game theory and the
prisoner's dilemma are both by Robert Axelrod; they are THE
EVOLUTION OF COOPERATION and THE COMPLEXITY OF
>  The virus seems to be an anomaly; it is merely a chemical reaction
> that nevertheless behaves as if it were a parasite.
>  Obviously, the argument applies only to organisms whose diverse
> functions are ultimately integrated only by a central nervous system.
> The brain is the only thing that stands between us and progressive,
> terminal necrosis.
> Robert M. Owen
> The Orion Institute
> 57 W. Morgan Street
> Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA
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