04 December 2008

Mutual Aid

The November Scientific Fundamentalist has an interesting article by Satoshi Kanzawa about his Savanna Principle: the article argues that the recent Psychological work, done by Ilja van Beest and Kipling D. Williams, amount to demonstrative proof in support of his principle. The Savanna Principle is a thesis, as with all mechanical models involved in describing evolutionary thought; however it does seem to have a good amount of support -including this new work (done out at Pardue University in evolutionary psychology). While Kanzawa takes this Psyc study, called "When inclusion costs and ostracism pays, ostracism still hurts," as further proof of his thesis, I have to pause a moment: Williams and Beest work notwithstanding (and its factual implications for the Savanna Principle), it seems like intellectual honesty might incline Kanzawa (not to mention anyone working in the field of evolutionary psychology) to refer interested readers to Peter Kropotkin, who argued for the intrinsic biological nature of people which inclines them toward mutual aid and social cooperation: "Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle... mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle." This is of course from his 1902 book called Mutual Aid: a factor in evolution. Kropotkin I think is to this day one of the most interesting reads concerning these topics because his arguments are so engaging; not to mention full of his historical analysis which supports his thesis just as well then, 106 years ago, as any manner of modern experiments I've read: (admittedly, that might not amount to all that much.)