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On Generosity of Spirit

by tachyon (Chancellor)
on Nov 08, 2002 at 22:59 UTC ( #211580=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Sitting here mulling over a nice glass of red I am somewhat overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit found within Perlmonks and the wider Perl community. This morning I posted Need help with module problem specific to sun-solaris and thanks to the efforts of numerous people the issues are now resolved. All this help, offered semi-anonymously, by people I have never met, and who have little of material value to gain by taking time to help me out.

Amazing really. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or perhaps it is just that wine....

A special thanks to all concerned. Brandon Black for some heavy duty testing and bug fixes. John D Robinson and Jeroen Latour for helping solve some interesting test failures as well as Perlmonks: tommyw, grinder, Jaap, vek, erasei, jlongino and strider corinth

tachyon

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Comment on On Generosity of Spirit
Re: On Generosity of Spirit
by Callum (Chaplain) on Nov 08, 2002 at 23:32 UTC
    It's popular these days to talk of social tribes, selfish genes, and memes blindly propgating to survive; but ultimately it's humanity's ability to consciously overide our genetic instincts which has built modern civilisation.

    Over the last few thousand years our tribes have grown and blurred, and communities have evolved around common perceptions of fairness, justice and equality -- we're no longer completely controlled by short term survivalist instincts, we take actions and make choices that will further the development of our civilisation as a whole.

    I'd like to think that the generosity and community found here (and in many other online communities) does not simply arise out of a selfish expectation to be paid back at some later time for the assistance being offered, but rather a fundamental appreciation that the health and wellbeing of each element contributes directly to the flourishing of the perl tribe, and our ability to crush that neanderthal php tribe... (um... hang on a minute...) :)

Re: On Generosity of Spirit
by grinder (Bishop) on Nov 09, 2002 at 09:32 UTC

    I could talk about Darwinism and survival of the fittest, but after several false starts I still can't really clearly express the idea that is much better summed up by one of my favourite authors:

    The recognition of symbiosis as a major evolutionary force has profound philosophical implications. All larger organisms, including ourselves, are living testimonies to the fact that destructive practices do not work in the long run. In the end, the aggressors always destroy themselves, making way for others who know how to cooperate and get along. Life is much less a competitive struggle for survival than a triumph of cooperation and creativity.

    Fritjof Capra
    The Web of Life


    print@_{sort keys %_},$/if%_=split//,'= & *a?b:e\f/h^h!j+n,o@o;r$s-t%t#u'
      I'm afraid i would have to disagree. Look at many of the ancient empires. Sure, most of them eventually 'fell' (if you want to call it falling, which is again debatable) in the end, but so does everything else. For a slightly more recent example, look at germany. Sure they were eventually defeated, but only since most of the rest of the world combined forces against them. Your saying reminds me of that old saw "Violence never solves anything" which is blatantly untrue.
        For a slightly more recent example, look at germany. Sure they were eventually defeated, but only since most of the rest of the world combined forces against them.

        The very fact that the rest of the world combined forces against Hitler and the Nazis is more supportive of Fritjof Capra's point than yours. It is, in fact, an excellent example of cooperation triumphing over destructive aggressors.

        Your saying reminds me of that old saw "Violence never solves anything" which is blatantly untrue.

        It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? Creation and destruction are entirely subjective terms. Violence describes an intense action, force, or change. A volcano eruption might be seen as destructive or constructive but either way, it is violent. In that context, it is hard to read any such meaning into grinder's post or Capra's quote as you have.

        -sauoq
        "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
        

      Natural selection at the group level: The myxoma virus was introduced into rabbit populations in Australia in the 1920's to control the overwhelming rise in rabbit numbers. To the surprise of the researchers, the forms of the virus most "successful" (that is, which had infected the most hosts) were not the most virulent forms. In fact the most successful version of the virus was rather more mild because the extremely effective form of the virus killed the host before transmission was possible. The less virulent form, slower to kill the host, better exposed potential hosts to which the virus could be transferred. This is an example of natural selection at the group level e.g., the more "fit" (lethal) virus went extinct because it could not pass itself on.

      Kin selection: a member of a lemur group signals the approach of a predator. In calling out to its fellow lemurs it makes the predator aware of its location and is subsequently eaten. The one organism sacrifices its own life -- thereby forfeiting its opportunity to breed -- and yet its siblings, which carry much of the same genome, persist to create offspring. The loss of one whose genes are largely possessed by others is a selective force for the genome from which that individual arose insofar as the others continue because of the sacrifice.

      If we are to reduce the cooperation of monks to natural selection, I would suggest that it is kin selection that is at work. That is to say, we are brothers and sisters committed to a common goal. Here it is not survival, but the proliferation of an idea. If one (e.g., tilly) falls, we heed the warning* and regroup ourselves to push forward. In this case it is not about our genes but rather about the purpose that we endeavor to fulfill.

      * Of course when an animal indicates to its group it is an indexical "statement", that is, equivalent to a call meaning i.e., "danger here now" or "food here now", whereas we are capable of far more abstract communications.

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