By Eilon Schwartz
Explores how Darwin's idea of human nature can tell academic philosophy.
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Extra info for At Home in the World: Human Nature, Ecological Thought, and Education After Darwin
He attempted to show that morality, which is considered the most human of characteristics, is a product of the evolutionary process. It can be explained as the result of the emergence of a social species which, through natural selection, has developed an ethic of cooperation that allows the individual to be sympathetic and concerned about the welfare of others. However, he also moved seamlessly into the second circle, not accepting that, even if one accepts the continuity of the human species with the rest of nature, there are unique features of the human species—reason, language, culture—which make it difﬁcult to apply truisms of the natural world so unproblematically to humans.
Kropotkin believed that the development of mutual aid as an evolutionary strategy of survival is linked to the development of intelligence, and therefore simultaneously leads to the development of the principle of justice in human communities, which is the application of the principle of mutual aid to the whole species. Breaking down the barriers between groups, recognizing that we are all part of one struggle for existence, is an intellectual leap which mutual aid might suggest, but only rationality can realize.
25 Siberia was an archetypical example of such a place. 30 Sociability and mutual aid are the most effective strategies for species’ survival, and progress: 30 | AT HOM E I N T H E WOR LD The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. . 31 Such a view of nature clearly made it easier to posit a normative role for the laws of nature.