The Evolution of Emotion, Urge and Behavior

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'If intelligence sets us apart among organisms, then I think is probable that natural selection acted to

maximize the flexibility of our behavior. What would be more adaptive for a learning and thinking animal: genes

selected for aggression, spite an d xenophobia; or selection for learning rules that can generate aggression in

appropriate circumstances and peacefulness in others.' - Stephen Jay Gould, 1981

True enough, the plasticity of human behavior is a very important hallmark

of the species; one which has facilitated its spread into almost every

ecosystem on the planet. Yet, as correct as Gould's reasoning is; he is

overlooking some important perspecti ves.

For one; assuming that humans evolved from organisms which had

substantially less ability to learn ontogenicaly; it is hard to deny that there

must be, at least some residual effects of prior evolution present in modern

human behavior. It seems highly un likely that the behavior of humanity,

however malleable, has completely escaped the slow progressive influence of

genetic selection.

If human behavior is learned, and is fully controlled by the 'freewill' of the

individual, then why is it so well geared to adaptive, gene promoting action?

Is it by random chance that humans the world over choose to feel painfully

jealous if their mate leaves them for another or anguished at the loss of a

child? Did every culture in the world independently just happen to feel

aversion to incest and create taboos against it?

Humans don't learn to get hungry when their bodies need sustenance; they

get an urge that influences their behavior in an unarguably adaptive manner.

People are averted by spoiled food because it smells bad. Rotten food smells

bad because it sickened an d killed all those who did not mind its odor. There

is nothing in the...