virus: Joy

David Leeper (
Wed, 01 Nov 95 14:23:00 PST

> Even altruisum is
> performed because it brings more joy to be the giver than whatever is
> given up.

I've already responded to this in a previous posting, pointing out that
having genes as the unit of evolution _does_ explain altruisum. However,
the more a read this sentence, the more I felt a need to write this posting.
Whoever wrote this, please forgive me. I'm about to shred this theory.
Don't take it personally. Before I read "The Selfish Gene" I probably
would have agreed with what you said...

1) This statement has no meaning, because the word "joy" has no meaning.
"Joy" differs from individual to individual, that is, it is subjective.

2) If we replace "joy" with another, more carefully worded term, such as
"prefers to perform" (as opposed to "prefers not to perform"), the sentence
still has no meaning. We end up with something like "Individuals perform
altruistic acts because they prefer to perform them." In other words, the
explaination is simply a definition in a circle. We want to perform these
acts because we want to perform these acts.

3) If we chose to disregard these fundemental objections, the statement
still has no meaning. The statement trys to explain why we behave the way
we do. After being told that altruisum gives us joy, we still _must_ ask
"Why?". As I've shown, the statement does not and can not answer this
question. We're right back where we started from, which is wondering why we
behave the way we do.

This, I believe, was the problem with the Group Theory of Evolution. It
also highlights the subtle power of basing evolution on the genes.


Dave Leeper
"Semi-Witty Sig Line (SWSL)" - Dave Leeper