Monday, 15 March 2010

What evolutionary anthropologists are missing

Open email to Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University:

Dear Prof. Dunbar,
I was very impressed by the interview you gave to the Observer's Aleks Krotoski, but please forgive my boldness for saying that there is a vitally important aspect of evolutionary anthropology which you and your colleagues seem to be missing.
It is the fact that civilizations (most relevantly, our own) are a product of man's Darwinian nature and its misplaced and perverted expression in the artificial environment of human society itself, which states and economy, I postulate, developed over the centuries to facilitate the (self)-exploitation of, to the advantage of power, wealth and privilege, by deceiving us all (exploiters and exploited alike, and now often embodied in one and the same individual) into believing that the state represents of our original tribe (or Dunbar number!).
In the artificial environment of our civilization, man's Darwinian drive for survival and reproductive success has been largely reduced to the pursuit of POWER, i.e. money, social and professional status, the moral high ground, etc., which, of course, has the potential to greatly enhance the individual's chances of survival and reproductive success.
The profound implications of this insight, I believe, are what make it so difficult to recognise, even for anthropologists, because it undermines the political and socioeconomic order on which we all depend (academics, if anything, more than most), and because our brains didn't evolve to grasp reality itself, but to interpret it (i.e. its environment) to its own (now perverted Darwinian) advantage.
If we fail to recognise and develop an understanding of this harsh reality (instead of using our prodigious brains to rationalize and disguise it from ourselves), it will inevitably become progressively harsher, as we exploit ourselves towards extinction . . .
With best regards
Roger Hicks

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