PART 4: GENES, ALTRUISM, AND EVOLUTION
Examining the “urge to love” in an evolutionary sense
 

   

  It's intriguing to me that when you study nature

you learn that nature neither gives nor expects mercy. 

But human beings really do hold ourselves accountable

in a way that other animals don't. -David Templeton

 

    Section 4: The “feel good” organizational structure of the brain

man with genes part 4.jpg (15400 bytes)

(c) Corbis.com

     In the Selfish Gene the notion of “suicidal altruism” in which one dies to save another is definitely a problem to Darwinian conception of reproduction. Hawkins writes

 

     "A gene for suicidally saving five cousins would not become more numerous in the population, but a gene for saving five brothers or ten first cousins would. The minimum requirement for a suicidal altruistic gene to be successful is that it should save more than two siblings (or children or parents), or more than four half-siblings (or uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, grandparents, grandchildren) or more than eight first cousins, etc." 

 

     There is no cost beneficial calculation that explains such behaviors. There must be something in ourselves that precedes conscious cost-analysis reason, which makes some people jump in to save another. I am not saying that this is the case with all people. In fact,  from now on I want to let go of the concept of universality of anything (I will expand my reasons for this in Part 5)…what I am saying is that we can come up with enough observations to say that behaviors such as altruistic suicide in humans can not be sufficiently grasped through selfish motives. So what is that something within us?  In previous parts,  I already alluded to the influence of brain structure and genes on behavior. Thus, so far we can say that
THE HUMAN BRAIN IS ORGANIZED IN SUCH A WAY THAT CERTAIN ALTRUISTIC BEHAVIORS MAKE US FEEL GOOD

    brain structure.jpg (13865 bytes)

Corbis.com

 

However, we can not say nothing about the question of why it makes us feel good, unless we undertake the task of finding the mechanism of both the biological evolutionary reasons as well as cultural components which caused the changes in the brain. However on a more immediate level we can infer that: 
THE BRAIN IS ORGANIZED IN SUCH A WAY THAT “THE URGE TO LOVE” CAN BE EXPERIENCED WITHIN ITS STRUCTURAL MANIFESTATION

     The thing about this structure that is fascinating is its ability to transcend itself. In the next part I will explore this transcending phenomenon of the human brain in context of something we are all are familiar with – the fascinating world of dreams. I hope that after studding this “system” we can get a more complete picture about the organizational structure of the brain I alluded to above. 

 

 Index    Introduction    Part1    Part2    Part3    Part4    Part5    Part6