Orion Anderson wrote:
> I entirely agree with Edgar Owen's hypothesis that the motivation of Islamic
> suicide bombers has to do with political and religious causes that have to
> do with
> "belief systems and mental processes rather than evolutionary mechanisms."
Ditto. The insistence that the altruism in man must have the
came evolutionary explanation as the altruism in worker bees
is a trifle simple minded, IMHO. What is unique about man
is not his physical dependancy on the group (e.g., Robinson
Crusoe), but his rationality.
> They are like "real true believers of any faith" and their sacrifices are
> the result of a belief system.
The problem is, it's difficult to explain in evolutionary terms
why a belief system would take precedence over survival itself.
The explanation I have long favored is that in man survival is
not the result of a bunch of stereotyped responses to stereotyped
stimuli (the old survival system, the id, etc.) but the result
of a conscious "will to survive" (the new survival system, the
ego, etc.) in which surival is a function of the value
the organism places on its existence. And, as a species
becomes more rational, this value is not an automatic
given but is something that is increasingly in need of
justification (needs for love, attention, achievement,
conquest, romance, justice, autonomy, dignity moral
integrity, etc.), such as when one perceives one's self as
willing to relativize the value a non rational animal
might place on fear in the pursuit of a more "noble"
> My point was to draw attention to the nearly psychotic sacrificial episode
> of the First World War, in which millions upon millions of soldiers behaved
> precisely like suicide bombers, SACRIFICING THEIR LIVES IN THE NAME OF THEIR
> In this instance, the gods were entities called "France" and "Great Britain"
> and "Germany."
The greater good, might be another way of saying it. The
need to make a difference, etc,.
> Nine-million men died and did NOT PASS THEIR GENES ALONG.
> Human beings often
> behave in entirely irrational, non-adaptive ways.
Here is where we part company. I see no reason to equate
"irrational" with "non-adaptive". Rather, I have argued
that the problem here is that we have become a little
TOO RATIONAL (too valuatively objective) for our own
good in that we often need to sacrifice our physical
well-being in order to justify our existence in the
pursuit of noble objectives:
Special concern for one's own future would be selected by
evolution: Animals without such concern would be more likely
to die before passing on their genes. Such concern would
remain, as a natural fact, even if we decided that it was not
justified. By thinking hard about the arguments, we might
be able briefly to stun this natural concern. But it would
soon revive... The fact that we have this attitude cannot
therefore be a reason for thinking it justified. Whether
it is justified [i.e. rational] is an open question, waiting
to be answered (Derek Parfit, 'Reasons and Persons').