RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Wright, James 7929 (
Fri, 25 Apr 97 08:15:00 EDT

Martz wrote:
>You seem to assume that self-interest and cooperation are mutually
>exclusive. That is not so.<

You appear to hold a different definition. If self-interest is doing
things specifically in the interest of one person (oneself), then how can
aiding anyone else be considered self-interest?

>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.<

You have indeed re-defined self-interest to include the concerns of
others; this to me IS cooperation, not self-interest. It would be in *MY*
self-interest to capture the gazelle myself, without involving you at
all; I would get a greater amount of meat that way.

>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. [JHW]

>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).<

Again, why should self-interest care about the resentment of others? It
is a very self-centered phenomena, as I define it; you are defining
cooperation as in the self-interest, when it includes others besides
oneself. We have a definition disagreement here.

Cooperation is vital to group success; self-interest is vital to
individual success, if you accept the illusion of self as binding. I am
maintaining points I do not personally hold, in the service of