The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Amoral Animal

 Thus the US historian Robert Wright replaces Freud's subconscious with Darwin's natural selection as the engine of all adult behavior.

Darwin himself had already realized that animals are subject to one kind of pressure that comes from members of their own species: sexual selection. Males have to compete in order to mate with a female. Females get to choose which male they mate with. Males seem to be indiscriminate in their sexual appetite, whereas females seem to be very discriminating. This simple asymmetry of behavior explains many traits that would not be easy to explain with standard Darwinian theory (for example, why some animals have very colored traits, and proudly display them, thus helping their predators spot them). But sexual selection often prevails: males who were not equipped to compete against other males (e.g., bulls with no horns) and to attract females (e.g., peacocks with small tails) were excluded from sex, and their traits are thus extinct.

Darwin did not explain where sexual selection comes from, though. George Williams found the answer. It comes from a simple physical fact: women can reproduce only about once a year, whereas men can reproduce every day of the year (if they find a woman willing to, of course). For a woman the main "investment" to reproduction is giving birth and nurturing the baby, a lengthy and complex consequence of a few minutes of sex. For a man the main investment is just those few minutes of sex. Thus the different sexual behavior.

Human nature does not come out looking too good. Human nature is merely a machine that has been fine-tuned over millions of years to maximize a mathematical equation (that of survival of our genes).

Wright showed that morality is simply the set of rules that increase the odds to pass one's genes to the next generation. Morality is mere convenience. To become moral animals, Wright claims, humans must first realize how thoroughly amoral they are.


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