RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner's

Wright, James 7929 (
Wed, 23 Apr 97 08:31:00 EDT

Martz wrote:
>On Tue, 22 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:
<Snip survival-based behavior= altruism discussion>
>I thought I'd been careful to state in my first post on the subject that
>I considered it unprovable either way and was merely expressing opinion.
>I've also tried to reiterate that where appropriate.<

An odd phenomenon has occurred here. I actually wrote the message you
quoted on Monday; in one of those odd Internet quirks, it didn't clear to
the server until Tuesday, after I had replied to one of your
later messages. I didn't mean to belabor the point; I didn't notice the
delay either until just now. OK, it's unprovable.
>Read the question again. It doesn't have to convey an advantage but show
>me that it isn't actually detrimental (I know I asked the question in
>both forms but that's the one you've quoted back at me).<

How can giving away something you don't need be detrimental? I find
helping others to be a NEUTRAL act; it doesn't necessarily help me, but
since I have no requirement for the resource, it doesn't harm me either.

>I would say that the giver in this example *is* disadvantaged by his
>act. He could have sold the food or found some other way of storing it's
>value against future needs.<

Surplus by my definition is surplus, he doesn't need it now and will not
need it in the future. Storing value beyond foreseeable need is logically
difficult to me; Bill Gates could just as well retire today, as far as I
can tell, and spend the rest of his life in philantropy. There are other
examples of philantropic capitalists like Carnegie that he could follow.

>I never said survival was essential to anything, I said the attitude
>was essential to survival.<

Ah, you're right, I missed the direction of your post; but then again,
how is the attitude essential to survival? Exactly which attitude are we
discussing, that altruism is impossible or that selfishness is essential
to survival?

>>Your search for a reason for being,
>>external to yourself, is interesting: why do you need such?<<
>That was humour, hence the Homer Simpson style "Woohoo". It was a parody
>of my real opinion which you seem to share. When it comes to a reason
>for existence there is only me.<

I don't watch Simpson's, so I missed the reference. We can agree that the
individual's existence needs no justification.
We may yet reach an understanding; hang in there!