Evolution at odds with altruism?

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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N.Smith
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Evolution at odds with altruism?

Post by N.Smith » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:18 am

Hello,
I am new and excited to be a part of this site. I am slowly exploring the forums and would like to present my first question. I feel as though this will be my easiest way to acclimate as I start at a head and not midstream.

My wonder is this:
George R. Price a population genetic scientist and a physical chemist came up with an equation that without going into great detail names evolution as the ONLY reason for altruism. Despite attempting to disprove this by living a life of selflessness to prove his theory wrong... it killed him. He died of self inflicted neck wounds. I am skipping so much that it may be disrespectful but in this age of information it will ball come to you in a moment after hitting enter.

What do you think Mr. Campbell would have to say about a man that boiled human selflessness and altruism to an equation that describes self preservation? Also reading The Power of Myth I seem to remember Joseph's mention of putting "yourself" into another person's shoes and losing your life to save the other's. Seems to stand at odds. So are we just stuff that gets hormones and helps to help ourselves? Or are we really that which transcends and the fact that Mr. Rice's theory is purely physical (including the math). But ignores the transcendental is this proof that there is more than just the physical?
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Post by Cindy B. » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:19 pm

Hi, N.Smith, and welcome!

The biological and evolutionary bases of altruism and empathy are well established, and as with most things, wherever we find one is its opposite, too; so by responding to others in altruistic ways, we are more likely to be treated so in return which benefits self-preservation and the meeting of personal needs. And while I don't recall what if anything Campbell said along these lines specifically, I can say that the hero's journey, for instance, incorporates these opposites, in that initially the hero's journey is all his own and for himself, yet near the end and in his newfound wisdom, he returns to society with a boon to help benefit others as well.

And if Rice actually did behave that way to prove a point, he was an idiot. :P In my opinion, anyway. Common sense does have its place, good grief. Besides, the key is reciprocity in some form or other since human beings are social creatures (as much as psychological and biological creatures), and are most likely to survive and do reasonably well in a supportive group of some sort. The loner or outcast survives, too, yet generally not for as long and with fewer resources. Cheery, huh. :)

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
N.Smith
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Post by N.Smith » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:55 pm

:D
Thank you! That was an awesome answer! I am so excited to be a part of this... I don't know where to go from here but. I know that your answer to my topic reaffirms that if I'm going to find it, it will be here! Thanks Cindy!
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Post by Cindy B. » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:32 pm

I'm glad that you found my reply helpful, N. Smith. And so you know, Campbell did value the contribution of science, and as he did all areas of human endeavor, it seems to me. :)

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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romansh
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Post by romansh » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:50 pm

I don't think Price's equation is the be all and end all. Whether we describe altruism in terms of equations, words or actions, each has it's place.

Just skimming through Price's page on wiki, he sounds like he was disturbed. My heart goes out to him.
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Post by boringguy » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:28 pm

Hi all, and welcome N. Smith,


Just my take here, but ………

Lol, Rom you might be right, but then again, how does the saying go? Something to the effect that, ‘There is a fine line between brilliance and insanity.’



N. Smith,


Hunting Transcendental.

Hmmm…….

Our perceptions, and word language, certainly have their limitations. These two, for example, basically gave us the particle and time as absolute. The language of mathematics has given us a way to ‘see beyond’ some of those limitations, but surely is a limited language as well. And a next language? Well ……. language itself has limitations, perception has limitations, and physical reality likely has its limitations too.

Be that as it may, its true that small steps have given us today, parts of yesterdays ‘transcendent’, that which seemed ‘comparatively beyond’. And today our science, mythology (religion), and humanity, forces us in physical, religious, and philosophical ways to expand our concepts of what transcendence might even be. Campbell’s work can help provide a perspective that is an integral part of that process I think.

Now certainly our ego endeavors, such as the picture that science is building a step at a time, has been more successful at encroaching upon what seemed transcendent, than our spiritual endeavors have, IMO anyway. But for me, it is by continually looking at the bigger picture created by all of those ‘small steps at a time’ and recognizing the Beauty inherent in the parts and whole, does one even hope to see indications of a portion of that ‘comparatively beyond’ that fits neither thoughts nor language.

So hoping not to project, but from reading Campbell I think he would probably have agreed that considering the implications of only a single equation itself, seems far too shortsighted when pondering possible distant portions of transcendence.

Good luck hunting :)


bg
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