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← The Descent of Edward Wilson (with Polish translation)

kriton's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by kriton

Zeuglodon (and Jos), I think you have a point actually... This discussion started with me disagreeing with Richards claim that indivuduals never copy themselves. I still disagree with this and maintain that you can see a genome level, and that organism and genome can't really be separated in practice.

While it is possible to see a genome level in dividing organisms, it is not necessary to bother about it, and it may indeed not add any important insight (although I don't rule out there may be something I haven't thought of). I used to think it would be important, because many genes are dependent on other genes in order to be adaptive. But the key for me was to consider that those other genes are part of the environment where a gene competes. This is a point often forgotten I think. We tend to think of the environment only as the world outside of the organism. But from the genes point of view, it is everything outside the gene itself.

I do think there is genuine universalism, separate from kin concern and reciprocity, in humans. This universalism is probably genetically coded, and I believe I have showed how such a gene could evolve. It required other genes to be around already and a change in how humans lived, but it was possible, and we can see the result in humans today. Many people are prepared to give to unrelated people on the other side of the world, without expecting anything in return. The concern is limited however, very few would give so much that it makes a substantial difference for their own welfare. That we would only do for kin. People do sacrifice themselves for cultural factors such as religion, nationalism and so on sometimes, but this is probably because those activate the "kin feeling".

Sun, 27 May 2012 09:42:57 UTC | #943797