A Brief Explanation of How Evolution Created Human Culture

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is a brief analysis of the evolutionary origins of human society.

Submitted: September 16, 2017

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Submitted: September 16, 2017

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If you look at all the related hominids and great apes we've discovered so far, both living and nonliving, basically all of them are physically stronger than us and have better senses. The ones whose senses we can gauge, anyway. They exhibit a certain amount of the same gregariousness (meaning 'of a social nature') as humans, but clearly not to the same degree, even with regards to what we know of the earliest and most basic human associations. 
Also, look at certain aspects of human nature, like how important it is to be accepted by the group. How people will kill themselves if they're bullied and feel like they'll never have friends, or won't have a good social life. In some ways, it probably feels like life or death to a lot of people. It IS literally life or death for the people who end up committing suicide. 

What does this imply about the evolutionary path of humanity?

The fact that we're so much weaker than our nearest ancestors, implies that there are some other qualities that allow us to compete against the other species. Something that allowed us to fade away from breeding purely on physical characteristics and sensory qualities. 

One of these is obviously intelligence and the adaptability that comes with it. I'd argue that another one is the gregariousness of mankind. The social nature. The group acts as an insulator against natural selection. Instead of living or dying purely based upon our personal attributes, the social group becomes, with regards to natural selection, a single organism. It lives or dies together. 

In addition to people's previously stated reaction towards being shunned from the group, you can also look to the fact that popularity or fame is very attractive to women. Like-ability and a mans capacity to have a healthy social group/support network often factors in very strongly to a woman's decision on who to partner with. And the instinctual reproductive behaviors of modern women are the same ones that evolution has been selecting for. Thats how evolution works.

Shame is a very powerful feeling. It is rooted in how you're perceived by your social group. People kill themselves over shame. Why? Because it means excommunication from the group. But why kill yourself? Because being separated from the group means death anyway, or at the very least no more opportunities to reproduce. It's generally just those deeply evolutionary in nature sorts of needs, that produce such a strong response. Being a member of a group is often as important to people as having food, shelter, safety, or even sexual reproduction, as evidenced throughout history (nuns, priests, gangs, cults, etc). 
Many people can understand that humans like to be a part of a group, that it's important. It's a natural understanding, something that most people take for granted, in part because it IS so natural. But, it isn't something to just casually accept. Groups are a powerful motivating force. People will literally kill to join a group. They will lie, cheat, steal or kill to protect their groups as well. Which is why we've got to understand that it is rooted in an evolutionary survival instinct, on the level of the importance of having a secure source of food.

When you truly understand the importance of groups to the human mind, you can being to pull apart certain aspects of our basic decision making process. Why we do the things we do. Why we think the way we think/have the opinions that we have. Why we react the way we do to certain things. Why we have the habits that we have. Why our society is organized the way it is. When you think about all these things through the lens of evolution, how VITALITY IMPORTANT groups are to us psychologically, much of what seemed to be mass insanity or stupidity is merely because of this basic fact. 

It's a constant buzzing bee in our subconscious mind, informing every single thing we do. Its impossible to list all of the different ways people are affected, but we can use a case study as an example of how to analyze some things, at another time. Socialism/communism is an obvious example, but its both too simple and too complex to bother with in a short essay. Obviously, though, at the heart of those ideologies is the evolutionary instinct to be a part of a powerful group that makes sure your needs are taken care of. 


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