Share Next Entry
Introductory Post
look_think_do

I’m starting this blog to present my views on various aspects of human society. I believe that if similar perspectives were more widely held, society would be much better off, benefitting myself and my progeny and hopefully you too, dear reader.

I have gained a great deal of insight, or at least think I have, into social issues and behaviour by looking at people and society as entities shaped by the evolutionary pressures of:  a) survival and b) reproduction. This application of an evolutionary lens to the peculiar features of mankind shall be a common theme (some may call it an obsession) of this blog.

I’ll begin by trying to convince you that we are born to fulfil a specific purpose.

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE:

Why is it painful to stub your toe? Or be deprived of nutrition? Or be subject to derision by your peers? Conversely, why is sex, or certain types of foods or social approval pleasurable? Is there a pattern to why certain situations are painful (i.e. to be avoided) and some pleasurable (i.e. to be repeated)?

You may have already noticed that events which are “painful” lower your chances of survival/reproduction, while events which impart a feeling of pleasure increase them. It is almost as if pain and pleasure are the push and pull, applied from opposite directions, to move us towards the goals of survival and thereby reproduction.

THE PURPOSE BY PROXY:

Few people however, will explicitly realize that survival/reproduction is the purpose of life. The reason behind this discrepancy is that evolution has programmed a strong sex drive into humanity (more men that women, of which, more later) which brings about reproduction without us having to think about it. In other words, it is no coincidence that the act that is associated with so much pleasure is also responsible for reproduction; the pleasure we get from sex is the proxy of the reproduction urge. As you will have noticed, “pleasure” and “pain” are actually neurological cues which have been "programmed" into humanity to get us to do those things which promote our survival and reproduction (nutritious foods, peer approval, sex etc all give pleasure) or to avoid those that are detrimental to the same (physical injury, disease etc all cause pain). There is a logic behind what is pleasurable and painful.

(As an aside, these impulses are not infallible. For instance, the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes is a consequence of the neurological “pleasure” associated with consumption and storage of rich foods; this helped when food was scarce, but today when rich foods are plentiful, this has become a liability).

To sum up, while the fundamental drive, or purpose, of life is to maximise our reproductive potential, it has always been driven by a proxy, the sex drive, which brought about reproduction without explicit recognition of the real purpose.

DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE PURPOSE AND PROXY:

However, in recent times, the availability of contraceptives has enabled us to break the linkage between the sex drive and the purpose behind the sex drive. We can now get the high that comes from sex, while thwarting the result that this drive has evolved to bring about. This is conceptually identical to drug use; you get the feeling of pleasure, but without doing the work to deserve it. In effect, it is a short circuit. The consequences of the failure to realize this are evident in the demographic decline underway in much of the “developed” world; shrinking populations are now certain to result in a slew of undesirable outcomes, from increased poverty (more retirees, fewer workers), slowed technological and scientific development (the young are the most prolific source of invention and discovery) and even a takeover by more (re)productive outsiders. I'm hoping to contribute to the reversal and amelioration of these effects via this blog.

IMPLICATIONS:

Given that the purpose of life is to transmit one’s genes into the future, what does this suggest about how life should be led?

Broadly, the following seem important:

a) Having an optimal number of properly brought up children; about four seems a good number to me.

b) Ensuring that one leaves the world a better place than one found it; enabling one’s descendants and the world at large to progress into a bright and brave future. This includes devoting resources optimally, to science and technology development instead of counter-productive financial speculation, for instance (more about financial speculation etc later) or to education for all instead of conspicuous consumption.

There are a large number of issues that I have glossed over or ignored altogether for now. These include the evolutionary basis of morality, my application of these principles to current affairs such as the credit crunch and the torture of terrorism suspects etc. I hope to share my views on these topics over the next few weeks.

Lastly, if you find these ideas convincing or interesting, please do refer your acquaintances to this blog.  



  • 1
It is true that conversion (presumably coerced) played a major if not predominant role in those days, and the example is not entirely analogous. Nonetheless, I don't see how one may draw comfort from this. It does not change the fact that a major mismatch exists between jaded, ageing Europe and the burgeoning middle east. History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account