View Full Version : "The Goodness Paradox": Have humans domesticated themselves?

27-01-19, 20:31
We've touched on some of these issues before, but this places it front and center.

Humans are peaceful compared to some of our closest primate relatives (like Chimpanzees). Did we domesticate ourselves?

Is what Christianity called "original sin" and Freud the id the remaining drives derived from more ancient humans, and did we try to ameliorate them through culture?


Another way of looking at it:

"The Selfish Nature of Human Cooperation":


It's a critique of the opposite (and, in my opinion faulty) way of looking at it. Primitive man was a noble savage, and society made him violent.

Again, in my opinion, that world view was part and parcel of the same viewpoint that refused to see violence and conflict in population movements. It's an attempt to deny human nature.

"For instance, at a recent lecture at my university’s philosophy department, a speaker argued as follows: Not only did humans share food and other essential items in our earliest hunter-gatherer societies; at our core, we enjoy sharing, and competition and cooperation can be disentangled from one another completely. The speaker emphasized the non-violent, sharing, and cooperative nature of modern hunter-gatherers and criticized chimpanzee-centric models of human evolution on the basis that modern humans are just as genetically similar to bonobos as they are to chimps. He stated that agriculture is the true inner demon of modern society and that we are essentially good.Ideas like these are not new at all. They hearken back to Rousseau’s fable of the noble savage. In Marx’s views of the cycle of history they emerged as the primitive communists. And they’re ever-present in the new-age neoliberal sentiment of the shared inherent goodness of all human beings. Unfortunately, they are wrong. And in using anthropological data, proponents of this viewpoint have erased the harsh reality of man as a selfish, biological creature geared with a Machiavellian intelligence and urge to win. They have obscured the reality of cooperation as a necessity and have erased human intent from the equation."

"But I believe we (by we, I also mean hunter-gatherers) do not entirely enjoysharing. The ethnographic literature makes evident that hunter-gatherers share only what cannot be hidden, and ethnographic reports by anthropologists have notoriously shown that hunter-gatherers hide meat acquired during hunting expeditions from each other in an attempt to not be obligatorily “shared out” of the fruits of their labor (Peterson 1993). Shame, coercion, and obligation appear to be the modes by which hunter-gatherers are moved to share. Sharing is a necessity — often up to 65% of a hunter-gatherer’s diet consists of protein acquired on hunting expeditions, and every hunter is unsuccessful on some hunts. In an attempt to reduce variance for returns of a dietary essential, hunter-gatherers share with one another. Are these people cooperating? Yes, but to understand the nature of such cooperation we must take into account the actions of hiding, shaming, and coercing."

To support that romanticized view of hunter-gatherer groups one would also have to close one's eyes to the numerous examples of violence against women and other men and children in the sample record or ancient humans as well as in present day hunter-gatherer societies. The "Noble Savage" raids other settlements, kills for women, commits infanticide to keep population numbers down, sometimes eats his human victims, and on and on.

I'm with Hobbes on this and always have been.