1964 Altruism

The book of science

Tom Sharp

W. D. Hamilton sociobiology Altruism


Arguments against Darwin’s theory of natural selection could claim humans were the epitome of evolution but that selflessness is enshrined in our beliefs and cultures. W. D. Hamilton showed that evolution and altruism were not always in conflict. Bees do it; ants do it; even educated people do it according to Hamilton’s rule.

Hamilton’s rule

In a situation requiring a decision, when the benefit to another multiplied by Sewall Wright’s coefficient of relationship is greater than the cost to the individual making the decision then the individual prefers the altruistic behavior.

Every creature

How can you help but hope that others have good fortune when their suffering magnifies the misery around you, unless you can wall yourself away from everything. Our streets and paths are cursed or blessed by many others. The air we breathe, the water we drink have been used before. Where does wealth come from? Every creature must be blessed.

Auguste Compte coined the word altruisme in 1830, but the practice of kindness toward others is a major part of all world religions. The wealth of humankind is not in gold or money, nor power, nor influence; it is in our love for the earth and all the creatures in it.

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