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Re: Compassion and Intelligence

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  • tom merle
    ... upper brain areas are what finally engenders true compassion. ... if it s not the other way around, namely that increased compassion engenders higher
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 2006
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      --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "pascal bercker"
      <pbercker@...> wrote:
      >
      > Ligesh writes:
      >
      > > And according to Sagan--and according to my hypothesis too--the
      upper brain areas are what finally engenders true compassion.
      >
      > I can't find the post where you defend this hypothesis, but I wonder
      if it's not the other way around, namely that increased compassion
      engenders higher intelligence. It seems to me that compassion (and
      empathy) for your fellow humans will pave the way for increased
      cooperation, and this in turn paves the way for greater success of the
      group. Greater compassion will ensure that goods are distributed fairly
      with no great gaps between the rich and the poor, unlike what we find
      today. Greater compassion would help avoid all the wars and all the ills
      modern societies are prey to. This would allow - and indeed encourage -
      absolutely *everyone* to contribute creatively and intellectually for
      the good of the group. Even competition would be for the good of the
      group rather than that of the individual, including competing for mates.
      Decisions would be less self-serving and more group serving. There
      however a possible limit to all this, and the danger is that intense
      compassion and empathy for others might completely submerge
      individualism and we might become like ants in ant colony, but who
      knows.
      >
      >
      > Pascal Bercker

      This strikes me as much overly abstract and counter to our
      predelictions, and therefore much too idealistic. Cooperation is
      reinforced or resisted based on membership in a group wherein each
      member is persuaded to cooperate. Societies and nations consist of
      numerous groups which collectively tend to resist or limit compassion
      for those outside one's group(s). Yes, we share an underlying humanity,
      but it seems so amorphous as to be inadequate to generate the kind of
      sympathy *that leads to action* on the part of most people who remain
      only mildly sympathetic, Bono not withstanding.

      Cooperation occurs when self interest is clearly perceived, when you
      know the object of sympathy can either reciprocate down the line, or
      when we sense in the diminished that "there but for the grace of god go
      I",. i.e. when we realize that someone is dealt a bad hand and we should
      do something, however modest, to relieve their suffering and strengthen
      civility. The latter reaction stems from pity and guilt, not empathy.

      Unless policy makers can overcome this structural problem of
      combativeness among groups and therefore among individuals, the
      perceived "good of the group" that leads to compassion, will continue to
      trigger wars and and other ills, now and for the foreseeable future.

      T.O.M.
      >
    • Donald W. Zimmerman
      ... Then again, if we were all happy, contented, big-brained, technologically sophisticated ants, would it matter if individualism were obsolete? Why is
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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        --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "pascal bercker"
        <pbercker@...> wrote:

        >There however a possible limit to all this, and the danger is that
        >intense compassion and empathy for others might completely submerge
        >individualism and we might become like ants in ant colony, but who
        >knows.

        Then again, if we were all happy, contented, big-brained,
        technologically sophisticated ants, would it matter
        if "individualism" were obsolete? Why is so-called "individualism"
        sacrosanct? Some futurists have even entertained the idea of a meta-
        organism arising from individual human organisms themselves taking
        on the role of "cells" in the larger structure.

        But asking about "what would matter" actually is pointless. Whatever
        may come in the future, one lesson from history stands out: There
        will never be a return to the ways of the past, because conditions
        that generated what happened in the past are gone. Moreover, the
        present surely will not stay the same. The future is a novel
        response to what is taking place here and now, just as the present
        represents an accumulation of changes brought about by events of the
        past.

        Best wishes,

        Donald W. Zimmerman
        Vancouver, BC, Canada
        dwzimm@...
        http://mypage.direct.ca/z/zimmerma/index.html
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