Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the

Mark Hornberger (
Fri, 18 Apr 1997 15:11:51 -0500

At 03:24 PM 4/18/97 +0100, you wrote:
>Robin Faichney wrote:
>> >> "Cooperate, don't defect"
>> >
>> >You're always going to find people who disagree, possibly quite
>> >strongly, with this.
>> Not very many, if you can really demonstrate its rationality.
>How about libitarians? Surely the whole concept of towing the line is
>against their principles.

Do you mean Libertarians? If so...

Most of us, yes, but not all. Many do collude with the Republicans
(shudder) out of the idea that a slimy friend in power is better than no
friend at all.

>> >> But how can you make such a system stable?
>> >
>> >Eliminate Greed. It's the only way. How to eliminate greed? I can
>> >only think of one way: Eliminate the human race.
>> All (!) you have to do is show that greed is not really beneficial.

Beneficial to whom?
>That's like trying to teach people that legal crime doesn't pay! Of
>course it does. The demonstration that greed is unnecessary would be so
>difficult and so long that I think people would get bored with it.
>Can you think of a way to /show/ that greed isn't beneficial.

I think the presentation of 'greed' here is too simplistic, since greed
seems to be a matter of degree. What is 'greedy' to you? If I recieve,
say, $3 million a year from lottery winnings, how much do I have to give a
way to preclude those on this list from considering me greedy? Half? 90%?
And does it matter whom I give it? Unicef or the Cato Institute? Depends
on which you think would do more good with the money, which depends on what
your definition of 'good' is... this isn't what I would call simple. We
can't fix the problem of 'greed' without nailing down what the animal looks

And considering that well over 90% of Americans live far above a sustinence
level - i.e. have more than they "need" ... I wonder how many accusations
of greed are just sour grapes that someone has more than someone else. I
know plenty of middle-class folks who consider it downright decadent and
wasteful that someone would pay $200k or so for a Ferrari, but themselves
drive a somewhat nice car, by middle-class standards. Their definition of
greed is only a combination of envy and self-satisfaction - not exactly a
humanitarian focus.

take care-