Re: virus: Rationalism to the point of absurdity
Tue, 24 Oct 95 10:59:14 -0500

>How would Dawkins explain humans love of alcohol and drugs, to the point of
>loss/damage of life? . . .

>Janet Taylor

This one is explicable in light of the fact our ancestors had no (or very
few) such things. Cocaine, for instance is said to sometimes stimulate the
pleasure center of the brain, as does orgasm. One gets the reward without
having to make the effort, and any organism is going to minimize the
percieved cost to attain a goal. Of course processes can be goals in themselves,
like cleaning. People are complex.

This is a paraphrase of an argument I once read about why people like salty
snacks, which in the long run are bad for you: on the African savannah salt is
hard to find, but is badly needed to control one's electrolyte balance in
that climate. So animals seek it and gobble it up when they find it.
Our ancestors did the same, and we are left with a taste for salty things.
Hypertension usually doesn't kill you before reproduction, so evolution leaves us with

I think Dawkins in "The Selfish Gene" was mainly making points about biological
evolution, and that his chapter on memes and cultural evolution is just a beginning.
I would recommend Dennet's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" and Cziko's "Without Miracles"
for broader philosophical views. There is a lot more room for free will and
personhood to maneuver in this worldview than you might think. There is
also a potentially interesting book by Anders (?) called "The Evolution of Evil"
which attempts to solve the problem of evil from an evolutionary perspective.
Unfortunately I haven't read it yet.

I sympathize with the comment about "smarter than the average bear" here. I have
been posting lately to this group about how religion has more purposes than
philosophizing. It needs a practice and a community.

An important outcome of evolutionary psychology is that we
are often not rational the way we think we are.

-David Craig