The Strong See Brutalizing the Weak As Their Prerogative. Only the…

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    Simon Paynton

    @Reg – the religious people that caseydorman was talking to, defined spirituality as

    transcendental force

    some belief in a force higher than oneself, which provided an insight into the the true nature of humans and the world they lived in“.

    It’s easy to see why people think this refers to something that doesn’t exist, because until now, no concrete explanation of what it refers to has been given.  All we’ve had is “divine mysteries”.

    If we consider the evolutionary pressure to thrive, survive and reproduce, we can see that it includes the following characteristics:

    1)  it’s a raw pressure to improve, and as such, has the potential to bring about a personal transformation for the better.

    2)  it’s personal:  it belongs to every individual living being.

    3)  it’s universal, for the same reason, and therefore, transcendent.

    Taken together with the biological phenomenon itself, all these characteristics correspond to the definition of spirituality that was given to @caseydorman by his religious friends.

    @caseydorman – “it was not possible to justify a belief that people should not express violence toward one another, or to sustain the motivation to participate in nonviolent resistance.

    – I have to say, I agree with them, in the sense that this definition of spirituality provides a clear basis for universal individual rights, and harm reduction, if you combine it with the ins and outs of the evolution of human morality (which, incidentally, is based on precisely the same thing).  If there is a separate, different basis, I haven’t heard of it.  So, they’re right.  It’s just that God is not a necessary part of this picture.



    @simonpaynton- I’m afraid I differ with all of your points.

    Evolution is a process of mutational changes that increase survival being selected by environmental conditions so that they have an advantage in reproductive success. There is no pressure to improve, raw or otherwise.  When environmental circumstances change, reproductive success is altered and sometimes improvements become liabilities. There is no forward purpose to the process.

    evolution is not personal in that we, nor other creatures consciously strive for evolutionary improvement. Species show evolutionary progression  ( within a particular environment), but an individual does not- only his or her offspring.

    transcendent and universal are not the same thing. Transcendent means above any particular while universal means shared by all. Nervous systems are universal among animals but not transcendent.



    Simon, there is not an evolutionary pressure to thrive. There is an evolutionary desperation to survive.  Thriving is irrelevant in nature as long as you live long enough to pass on your genes.


    Simon Paynton

    @caseydorman – I’m not talking about the process of evolutionary change over aeons.  I’m talking about the process of individual beings living their lives.  Each one experiences a pressure to thrive, survive and reproduce.  This arises from 1) the fact that DNA reproduces; 2) evolution and natural selection.  If we put these two together, then over time, those genomes that are best at reproducing will get to have the most offspring, out-competing those which are not so good at reproducing.  This situation leads to a pressure to reproduce, which in turn leads to behaviour within individuals that promotes reproduction.  In order to reproduce, the individual has to exist – to be alive – to survive.  In order to maximise the chances of survival, it has to maximise its health.  Hence, each individual behaves so as to maximise thriving, surviving, and reproducing.  Evolution has fixed it so that if the right conditions are in place, an individual will thrive and grow strong.

    I say that this pressure is transcendent because the exact same thing is shared by all living beings, and in humans, it leads to altruism, which transcends the individual ego.  It’s also a transcendent experience just to imagine that this pressure, or force, applies to every living being as well as ourselves.  Two meanings of the word “transcendent” are

    1. going beyond ordinary limits; surpassing; exceeding.

    2. superior or supreme.

    Not only does it transcend the individual, it is also our supreme value in life.

    @strega – I think it’s strange to say that there is no link between thriving – being healthy – and surviving.  I would have thought there is a straightforward causal link: being healthy makes an organism more likely to survive.  Since there is a pressure to survive, there is also a pressure to thrive.  We can see evidence of this all the time: for example, in biological healing; biological systems that maintain homeostasis within the body; seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.  Each one of these is a process, which is driven and directed by this pressure.



    @simonpaynton The whole ‘thrive’ concept smacks of Ayn Rand, looking out for yourself.  The co-operation aspect is simply more Ayn Rand looking out for others only because it benefits yourself.  If it were not so, philanthropists would make up the bulk of our populations.  Instead, we have the opposite.

    Humanity will most probably join the other 99% of extinct species as it compulsively destroys its own habitat.  Some other life form will get center stage to go for the top slot, just like we mammals did when the dinosaurs died out.

    Wouldn’t it be fun if it was the chicken!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  Strega. Reason: to correct link

    Chickens in Charge



    The whole ‘thrive’ concept smacks of Ayn Rand, looking out for yourself.  The co-operation aspect is simply more Ayn Rand looking out for others only because it benefits yourself.

    Yes, there’s the social Darwinism idea that comes back now and then, e.g. today in the Trump/Bannon form of giving back “success” to white people that should never have been shared in the first place.

    I like the idea of thriving if it applies to everyone equally instead of easily ignoring those not thriving due to circumstances they’re born into. So I like the way I think Simon means it, even though I wouldn’t call it some kind of independent driving force… thriving is just as much a result of successful evolution as it is a benefit to successful evolution.

    And in some circumstances, excessive thriving in one part of an ecosystem will be at the detriment of thriving in another part of the ecosystem. I.e. what “thriving” means to humanity depends a lot on who’s able to define and engineer it, and then write the history books. (I can’t believe I’m still hearing people feel sorry for Trump, as if he shouldn’t have to take the same kind of abuse he regularly dishes out.)


    Simon Paynton

    @strega – we presume that the ancestors of the Homo family line were “social but not very cooperative”, i.e. mainly competitive: living in a dominance hierarchy based on fighting ability, because this is what all the other primates are like now, who live in similar habitats.

    The Homo family were required to live cooperatively in order to survive in a harsh new environment.  At first, this would have been “strategic” – helping others in order to get the straightforward benefit to the actor.  However, what started out as strategic became, over evolutionary time, “moral” – we developed a distinct and specific sense of right and wrong, which motivates us to behave in an ethical fashion: we feel morally that we “ought” to be fair, for the sake of doing the right thing.  We also continue to have strategic reasons for doing things.  Mostly, it’s a mixture of both, and the two aims pretty much match up, since we tend to get rewarded in some way (even if it’s just a warm fuzzy glow) for acting morally.

    Being fair, and altruistic, isn’t confined to public philanthropists, who are not very common, as you say.  Instead, it’s how most of us behave every day.  The real exceptions are narcissists and psychopaths, who, I propose, are born lacking in moral emotions, leaving only the strategic, competitive ones.  The very existence of narcissists and psychopaths confirms the everyday moral sense and ethics of the rest of us.  The other exceptions are “assholes”, and assholes have the potential to become nice people.

    Cooperation also requires special circumstances in order to nurture it, and it breaks down easily, and then, we revert to a dominance hierarchy based on fighting ability as a social model.  Society doesn’t flourish under these conditions.  A healthy social system is a cooperative one – or at least, some kind of hierarchy that fosters cooperation.

    If humans destroy the planet, this just shows how blind and short term the pressure to thrive can be.  We have to combine it with intelligence and long term behavioral change, to avoid sawing off the branch we are sitting on.


    Simon Paynton

    This raises a larger point:  a lot can go wrong if the pressure to thrive is not managed properly.  We can end up “thriving” in ways that are destructive.



    I’ve always dreamed about banging a pretty little elf in the ass.

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