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“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism Essay (Critical Writing)


Human nature and morals that people possess have been questioned for a long time. It is often debated where feelings of kindness or aggression come from and the biological theme has taken a few attempts to give explanations. The article “Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson, provides biological bases for altruism and kindness but in fact, it is a mix of both human social cooperation and natural environment.

The study of genetics and DNA has led to some discoveries that help determine which particular biological mechanisms are responsible for the individual characteristics between people. But the reality continues to confirm that the study of social and psychological life can yield better understanding for the reason of why people love or hate.

Altruism is one of the qualities that can be traced to the animal world and baboons and chimpanzees have been closely studied to confirm the findings. It has been shown that cooperation in groups leads to better strength and health of the group and this can be connected to Darwin’s natural selection theory.

It is undoubtedly evident that a group is much stronger than one individual and communication and mutual goals will lead to better and faster results. The article cites Darwin when talking about war and that it might be the cause for people uniting, thus it would be beneficial for them to survive. This point met some opposition, as natural selection was not attributable here.

The general outline of natural selection is that an individual who is strongest will survive and transfer their strong genes to their kin. But it is possible to conclude that in time of war people are even more interested in preserving their genes. No matter how developed people in the past were, they understood that they will not be able to lead a war against a group of people by themselves.

The self-preservation instinct led them to look for people who would cooperate with that individual or several and join into a group of cooperating members. In the end, this would ensure a better chance that their own genes would survive within the protection of the newly formed community. The proposition that people will not join others, who are of different race or background, also seems somewhat limited.

It could have been possible that in the old days, when people did not have evolved communication and language, they would express fear towards other groups of people who seemed different. But it is absolutely clear that in the face of a common danger, a natural disaster or a wild animal attack, they would not take time to conflict with each because the common goal is to save the life from an immediate threat.

The same can be seen in the modern times when people help each other in the face of a more consuming danger. A human being, naturally, realizes that there could be some communication and negotiation with another being of the same kind, whereas communication with flowing lava or an earthquake is impossible.

The modern evolution has given even more support to the fact that people of different races can live in harmony. The anti discrimination laws and human rights movement, have lessened the fear that people might have towards nations that are far away and unknown. Once people realize that the biology and social life of another race is the same, they tend to be more understanding and kind.

All of this leads into the point of altruism and the reasons for it. Biologists explain that being kind and caring to another person starts with relatives and people who are closest. According to the articles, kindness and altruism towards kin is very much understandable because the survival of someone in the family will lead to a greater chance of gene survival. All of this happens on an unconscious level and thus, cannot be analyzed as closely as conscious choice of individuals.

The voluntary decision that a person makes is much better observed and can be examined to determine the true reasons for kindness and help to a stranger. A quite reasonable and logical concept that everyone understands is that kindness will lead to better chances of self survival than a fight. When a person is involved in violence or war, they accept the possibility that there is a chance they might become a casualty. Right away, this understanding greatly decreases the expectance of the survival of one’s genes.

The avoidance of conflict is what will produce better results, even if the person simply pauses to arrange for back-up and members of the family or cooperating group. But even in this case, a violent conflict between two groups will have people realizing that there will be loss of life, which cannot be good for the transference of genes. But another important factor in altruism is that being kind can be traced to a subconscious level as well.

People might deeply believe that the fact that they will help someone, will lead to changes in that person, even if they are not related. People’s genes change not in the process of birth but during life. A person lives their life and the understanding that they acquire produces changes to the genes. This information gets transferred to the next generation. Biologists and scientists take an extreme focus on genetics and the connection between people who are related but evidence shows a different reason.

By helping a stranger, a person becomes somewhat “stronger” and more moral. This adds to their self-esteem which heightens the quality of their life and so, leads to better survival chances. Another major point is that by being altruistic to total strangers, a person creates a memory in that stranger that they were helped. Not only it instills thankful attitude in people globally but there is a chance that the two individuals will meet again, and the person who offered help will be in need themselves and so, the favor will be returned.

This way a person creates friends among strangers and the more this behavior is repeated, the more potential friends there will be. This distinctly points to the fact that people strive to develop positive communication with as many people as possible. This can even be seen in gangs where people with a common belief make one unit, only their common belief is not kindness.

Biology is without a doubt a big part of human behavior and attitude but an equal part is based on social behavior and common good. People understand that by cooperation they will create better chances of survival for themselves and the rest of people, whereas violent competition and wars will only lead to lives and genes lost.

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IvyPanda. (2018, December 24). “Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/selfless-gene-by-olivia-judson-and-reasons-for-altruism/

Work Cited

"“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism." IvyPanda, 24 Dec. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/selfless-gene-by-olivia-judson-and-reasons-for-altruism/.

1. IvyPanda. "“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism." December 24, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/selfless-gene-by-olivia-judson-and-reasons-for-altruism/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism." December 24, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/selfless-gene-by-olivia-judson-and-reasons-for-altruism/.

References

IvyPanda. 2018. "“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism." December 24, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/selfless-gene-by-olivia-judson-and-reasons-for-altruism/.

References

IvyPanda. (2018) '“Selfless Gene” by Olivia Judson and reasons for altruism'. 24 December.

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