Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner'sDillema

Martz (
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 21:28:51 +0100

On Thu, 24 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:

> >Because we are all driven by self-interest (IMHO), we tend to
> IMHO: This seems to me to be an inherent contradiction. It is in MY
>self-interest to grab all I can, wherever I can, whenever I can.
>Cooperation arises when I see that the results of cooperation are
>SUPERIOR to self-interest, so that ultimately self-interest is seen as a
>disadvantage to personal fulfillment in a social group.

You seem to assume that self-interest and cooperation are mutually
exclusive. That is not so. Self-interest is not the opposite of
cooperation, the opposite of cooperation is....non-cooperation (buggered
if I can think of a better word for it). For example, I want to eat
gazelle but I can't catch one on my own. You also want to eat gazelle
but are similarly hindered. Together we may be able to catch the gazelle
and feed ourselves (yum, yum) so we cooperate. I chase the gazelle
towards the trees where you lie in wait with a big fucking stick, you
club him, we both eat. Cooperation at work. Did I do this so *you* could
eat? No, I did it so *I* could eat. Self-interest and cooperation make
good bedfellows, the one does not preclude the other.

>It would also be in your self-interest to keep that knowledge secret, so
>that YOUR children would be better fed, stronger and ultimately
>longer-lived than your tribemate's children, and could eventually
>dominate the tribe.

He may be wary of creating resentment towards him from other members of
the tribe. That could lead to big trouble in the long run. Also bear in
mind that the mastery of fire arrived when we were already a cooperative
species (you have to go a *looooong* way back to find an ancestor of
ours that wasn't to some degree).


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