Sunday, March 20, 2016
Harmonizing the differences in altruism and egoism in human groups
Sometimes simplification is necessary to understand problems that are often made more complicated by intellectuals who claim to be explaining problems. The two basic attitudes of human nature seem to me to be altruism and egoism (some say individualism). There are degrees of differences in these traits within different human groups, and those differences are based in biology (genes) enhanced by culture.
All people possess both of these traits but natural selection in evolution created different degrees of these traits based on the survival and reproductive needs of different environments. As E.O. Wilson wrote: these traits are “suspended in unstable and constantly changing positions between the two extreme forces that created us.”
I am not here defining either superiority or inferiority when I suggest that Northern people tend to be more altruistic than Southern people due to the conditions of survival in different environments. For example, the colder extremes of the Ice Age in the north demanded more long term altruism (devotion to the interests of others) than in the warmer south where survival was not as extreme. Our brains and bodies changed in adapting to these conditions.
This means that when we try to define social or political behavior we should look to actual human nature. Religion and philosophy, especially political philosophy, have too often tried to force square pegs in round holes. But while we may be different in the different degrees of altruism we possess, human nature is still much the same in other areas. All groups remain basically kin-centered, gender defined, age-graded, heterosexual marriage-making, hierarchical, ethnocentric, even xenophobic, among other things, with group-selection being the primary unit of selection.
I believe these differences, and this sameness, naturally leads to ethnopluralism. That is, the separation of distinctly different ethnic cultures into regions and states protected by some form of federalism. (The U. S. constitutional principle of the separation of powers and states could accommodate this.) Given human nature, I think this offers us as much social harmony as possible between, and within, different groups. I think this is a better way to understand the problems of human beings than trying to divide and define groups in economic or moral or universal classes of people.
Beyond this, I also believe that the philosophy of theological materialism can provide the longer term sacred and scientific way for all groups to evolve with variety toward real Godhood, offering a future religious base, which retains but transforms past religions.