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Hunter-Gathering Psychology

(Text as at 21/08/2007 15:04:19)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)

Shouldn’t I have an overwhelming desire to just hunt, steal and procreate?

Again, I’m not sure of the point here. If we do have these desires, that’s no reason justify our acting on them, or for their being “a good thing” because they are “natural”. There’s been an attempt by right-wingers to use evolutionary psychology to justify the analogues of presumed hunter-gatherer practices in modern commercial life and societal relationships generally. However, while we may have these drives to some extent, that’s no reason why we should act on them. The issue is that evolution works very slowly by the standards of human lifetimes. So, we are stuck with the psychological and physical lumber that evolved for environments we no longer live in. But we can use capacities (notably our rationality) that evolved for one purpose for others. We can see that a society in which unrestricted competition is allowed will not be the happiest for anyone (except possibly the top dog, but even that is doubtful – because that top dog would not enjoy the fruits of cooperation that have been built up). After all, if everyone pillages and no-one produces, there’s soon nothing left to pillage.

I’m doubtful that stealing is something that non-human (ie. non-moral) animals can do, though they are certainly acquisitive.

As for the desire for procreation, I’m not sure whether the males of any species have much of a desire for this, which is too remote from the pleasurable activity of sex. I’ve been reading recently about non-human animal culture, and the use of sex for non-procreative purposes in bonobo societies ("De Waal (Frans) - Bonobos and Fig Leaves: Primate Hippies in a Puritan Landscape", in "De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist") – mostly for bonding following a squabble.

We are often too harsh in our negative evaluation of animal societies. It’s not the case that dog eats dog. See the later note on human uniqueness1.

Table of the Previous 2 Versions of this Note:

Date Length Title
19/08/2007 14:09:36 1759 Hunter-Gathering Psychology
16/08/2007 14:44:10 24 Hunter-Gathering Psychology

Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
21/08/2007 15:04:19 523 (Hunter-Gathering Psychology) Simon - T1S1

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Human Uniqueness        

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

Human Uniqueness Simon - T1S1      

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.

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