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Hunter-Gathering Psychology

(Text as at 19/08/2007 14:09:36)

(For other versions of this Note, see the tables 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 having them. 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 e 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.

Live Version of this Archived Note

Date Length Title
21/08/2007 15:04:19 1871 Hunter-Gathering Psychology

Earlier Version of this Note

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

This version updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
19/08/2007 14:09:36 523 (Hunter-Gathering Psychology) Simon - T1S1

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