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I find the topic fascinating but not necessarily enlightening:
yes, peaceful societies would probably tend to be overrun by aggresive ones but so what? The period when this could continue has eclipsed. Earth has reached capacity and there is nowhere else to go for now. Therefore the peaceful and the aggressors will need to coexist somehow. In fact, the only reason that we still exist IS because in key turning points of history power was not met with greater power but instead a compromise was accepted. The greater danger lies in the passivity of the "masses"; the culture of coach potato coka sipping soma munching individuals -- where power struggles have been transferred to irrelevant (and largely imaginary) spectacle and the choice between peace and aggression has been rendered mute.

I take issue with the Dawkins scenario: his 'story' entirely disregards the strength of societal meta-structure of ethics, mores, laws,philosophy etc. Our societies do in fact continue to exist because the continuous "contamination" of altruism with egoism has been kept at bay with a combination of the mechanisms listed above. In fact my intuition is that societies need this combination in order to be vibrant rather than stilted.

As a sidenote, I observed a lot of resentment towards religion in threads in this site and I can sympathise with many of the views against organized religion but in the end (aside from the metaphysical beauty of some inspired texts and transcendental experiences) religion provided a strong mechanism for altruistic mores to endure. I know this is a debatable position and I offer no proof but neither do I expect anyone to conclusively prove otherwise.

Orthodoxy is not a religion.

by BalkanIdentity (balkanid _ at _ google.com) on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 01:02:12 PM EST

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