26.6.07

Reapproprating Chimp Culture

Further proof that altruism is an evolutionary trait inherited from our primate ancestors. Many researchers have claimed that such altruism emanates from a species-unique psychology not found in humans' closest living evolutionary relatives, such as the chimpanzee. In favor of this view, the few experimental studies on altruism in chimpanzees have produced mostly negative results. In contrast, we report experimental evidence that chimpanzees perform basic forms of helping in the absence of rewards spontaneously and repeatedly toward humans and conspecifics. I'm not sure who's argument this hurts more, the Theists who claim morality is unique to humans and is created by God, or the Randians who claim altruism is evil and runs counter to our logical biological desires.

Update: And the studies keep poring in. Apparently, our minds, our emotions, our morals, literally our souls, are products of evolution. The idea that human minds are the product of evolution is “unassailable fact,” the journal Nature said this month in an editorial on new findings on the physical basis of moral thought. A headline on the editorial drove the point home: “With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside.”

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