By Eilon Schwartz

Explores how Darwin's concept of human nature can tell academic philosophy.

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Extra resources for At Home in the World: Human Nature, Ecological Thought, and Education After Darwin

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Since nature is at its root cooperative, civilization’s competitive and warlike character was a result of history, not biological determinism. 36 Kropotkin, for example, argued that the Eskimos originally held a communist concept of property, which later degenerated due to Western influences: “Eskimo life is based upon communism. What is obtained by hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. ”37 Kropotkin argued that mutual aid is part of our evolutionary legacy, but that competition has become culturally dominant because of societal choices.

It is an idea that is presented by Dewey, as well, and developed by Midgley, as we shall see. Kropotkin did not believe that mutual aid is identical with morality. Nature selects for sociability, not morality. 40 Kropotkin viewed mutual aid as an evolutionary strategy of survival which, while allowing individuals to more effectively survive and replicate through cooperation with a group, nonetheless can be selfishly motivated or encourage competition between groups. Mutual aid, for example, flourishes because nature gives advantage to those who recognize that their own survival is enhanced if they cooperate with others who return the favor; or, that survival is enhanced when the group defends itself as a group, or attacks other groups.

What is obtained by hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. ”37 Kropotkin argued that mutual aid is part of our evolutionary legacy, but that competition has become culturally dominant because of societal choices. 38 In spite of the power of socialization, however, Kropotkin did not believe that it could eliminate our innate human nature. Our natures remain as a resource to resist socialization when it is dehumanizing, that is, when it is antithetical to our natures: In short, neither the crushing powers of the centralized State nor the teachings of mutual hatred and pitiless struggle which came, adorned with the attributes of science, from obliging philosophers and sociologists, could weed out the feeling of human solidarity, deeply lodged in men’s understanding and heart, because it has been nurtured by all our preceding evolution.

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