Jens Oliver Meiert

Survival of the Primitive

Post from December 16, 2018 (↻ August 7, 2021), filed under and (feed).

There appear to be issues with the idea of “Survival of the Fittest.” Those issues begin with whether it’s indeed part of natural selection, pass by whether nature could mean cooperation rather than competition, and end with our understanding of death. (What a lightweight intro.)

One that I understand to be Social Darwinist aspect I find troubling is that we consider us such a highly evolved culture and see no contradiction between that and killing life. We consider this even though our killing is glaringly obvious; we kill pretty much everything that can be deemed alive, industrially so, including animals and even (or of course) people.

I wonder about the following argument:

P.1: The higher evolved a culture, the less likely it is to kill members of its own or other species.
P.2: The less likely a culture is to kill, the more vulnerable it is to attacks.
P.3: The more vulnerable a culture is to attacks, the less “fit” it is for survival.
C. Therefore, the higher evolved a culture is, the less fit it is for survival.

This argument does of course now depend on whether you accept the premises; yet when you do, it’s straightforward, and valid and sound. For us, then, it can actually mean two things: Perhaps we aren’t any highly evolved. Or maybe there just is no “Survival of the Fittest.” I do believe that both is the case, and that it’s time we question our cultural values—to kill less of the life around us, no matter whether plants, animals, or human beings. I desire to stress that, again.

Far from her native desert, alone and homesick, a young girl tends her horse.

Figure: Survival. (Copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc., distr. Bulls.)

Readers of this site long know that I don’t believe in death in the classical sense, and that I strongly believe that we need to stop killing. Whether we just need to learn, or remember, that’s not the point here. What do I know.

(This is one of five “lost” articles that I only published in 2021.)

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead—currently manager for Developer Experience at LivePerson—and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!

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Cover: 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer.

Find adventure anywhere? Try 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer (2013). During my time in the States I started trying everything. Everything. Then I noticed that wasn’t only fun, it was also useful. Available at Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.

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