Monday, March 10, 2008
Holt, Jim. "Good Instincts." NEW YORK TIMES March 9, 2008.
Charity, do-gooding, philanthropy it’s all just selfishness masquerading as virtue. So says the cynic. In modern times, the theory that each of us, despite occasional appearances of self-sacrificial nobility, is ultimately and invariably looking out for No. 1 got a big boost from Darwin’s theory of evolution. By the logic of natural selection, any tendency to act selflessly ought to be snuffed out in the struggle to survive and propagate. So if someone seems to be behaving as an altruist — say, by giving away a fortune to relieve the sufferings of others — that person is really following the selfish dictates of his own genes. The evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse confessed that he slept badly for many nights after absorbing this supposed discovery, which he called “one of the most disturbing in the history of science.” . . . Read the rest here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/magazine/09wwln-lede-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.