Saturday, September 15, 2007

there are givers, and takers

This morning, I am reading Stephen Post's new book and have come across the concept of "generativity" and how it promotes health and prosperity. Here's a section about David Sloan Wilson that I find especially a propos with regard to our local economy and the dialogue we've been having these past few years about casinos, the medical mart, and development in general. The following comes from pages 59 and 60:

...In particular, I've turned to the evolutionist (and my friend) David Sloan Wilson, author of Darwin's Cathedral. David is the brilliant thinker who resurrected Charles Darwin's idea of group selection to explain why we give and why we enjoy giving. He has pointed out that groups whose members are giving actually survive and flourish. Imagine a world, says David, that ranges from the most pristine giving to the most wanton selfishness. Winners survive and reproduce and truly "inherit" the earth, while losers pass out of existence. So who are the winners and losers? You'd think givers would lose in such a world, because they would constantly be taken advantage of. But givers thrive--as long as they interact with other givers. The band together in generous, caring groups and thrive. Over time, David suggests, evolution has slowly selected giving as a profoundly healthy trait in our very social species.

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