More on Altruism: Responses to Commenters

by W.F. Price on July 24, 2012

One of the nice things about the slower pace of comments over the last few days is that I can respond meaningfully to commenters more often than before, and today I have a good opportunity to do that.

A number of commenters took issue with yesterday’s post about altruism and heroism. Some, like George, read it as an endorsement of self-sacrifice on behalf of women:

George

Heroism and its promotion, as this article does, goes against the MRM. We’re not just fighting the unfair legal system brought on by women or the culture that demonizes men, but also the view of men as disposable utilities, and the role of men as protectors-providers (for women, they still need to do it for their children however).

Heroism may have been useful in the distant past, but now it has become completely toxic for men to fetishize their own destruction. They’re destroying themselves for women, their legal superiors, who don’t give two shits about them and who will go on to live their lives and boyfriends will be one boyfriend in a long series of boyfriends, guys they dated a long time ago. While on the other hand, the young men DIED!

On the point of promoting heroism, this article is completely misguided.

As the writer, it’s my job to make myself understood, so I’ll start by pointing out that the post was not an attempt to promote, glorify or endorse white knightery. Rather, it was simply intended to point out that self-sacrifice is rooted in our biology; it is a fundamental part of masculine nature.

Tom47 questions whether this is even true, and suggests that it is a social construct:

tom47

…There is no evidence that male primates ever defend females or make any sacrifices for them and it’s just as likely that females fight over males as males fight over females. White Knighting is a “social construct”, a way to make men “useful”.

The benefits of altruistic acts are not limited to females, but nor are they excluded. Throughout history, men have probably sacrificed themselves more frequently on behalf of other males. It is my hunch that the high level of altruism displayed by humans, particularly males, developed as a result of the cooperative hunt.

Hunting megafauna with spears is a very hazardous occupation. Like commercial crabbing and wildcatting, both the risk and reward are high. In the Paleolithic Era, humans lived and provided for themselves in small bands of closely related kin. In general, men hunted while women gathered and processed food. Men who were on the hunt were typically closely related. Brother hunted with brother, father with son, cousin with cousin; this is the basis for patrilocality. When the tribe got to a certain size, it would split and separate bands would go their own way, ensuring that it remained this way.

If two brothers were hunting together, and while in pursuit were surprised by an angry, wounded aurochs, a situation could arise in which one took on the beast, allowing the other to survive and taking the brunt of the punishment in the process. If the sacrifice hadn’t been made, both would be quickly trampled in turn as they tried to flee the swift, powerful animal, and more of the genes unique to that family would be lost. Wolves often do this on their hunts, putting their lives on the line so that the other pack members can survive. In fact, it is precisely this quality that led to wolves’ domestication and eventual status as man’s best friend, as altruistic cooperation characterizes the hunting tactics of both species.

This also explains why men are more prone to self-sacrifice than women. Women didn’t hunt. In humans, unlike most other predators, hunting is a sex-specific behavior. Our species is designed that way, so the traits that are helpful for hunting are overwhelmingly concentrated in men. The clearest evidence of this is in our physiques, but it also shows up in mental characteristics such as higher spatial ability. In women, some of these hunting-specific behavioral traits would probably decrease genetic fitness as they have associated costs, so they tend not to be expressed in females. Hence men are braver, more selfless and far more likely to die on behalf of others.

But no, it is not a quality intended to benefit only females — not by a longshot. No more so than the human female’s costly and hazardous pregnancy and labor is intended to benefit only males. It is simply a human adaptation designed to propagate the genome. Evidently, it has been a very effective one.

Commenter piercedhead really got the point of the post:

piercedhead

…To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Although I may not be able to counter my instincts fast enough to avoid giving women a hugely undeserved evolutionary advantage, I can at least use my MRM learning to minimise the opportunities those pesky instincts get to betray me.

By going MGTOW, there is certainly no chance I would ever be in a situation where whatever W.K. tendencies I may have lying dormant would get their moment of glory (to my everlasting shame, should I survive…).

And that same feeble mastery of intellect over DNA would also preserve me from a Batman premier (on this I am on more certain ground).

“Know Thyself!” said the ancient Greek philosophers, repeating Delphi’s maxim. If we know our nature, we can better prepare ourselves to deal with the world. Rather than fight it or deny it, we can accommodate it. We can choose to whom our beneficence should extend by associating with those we truly care about, and those who will appreciate it.

We may not have much control over whether selflessness is in our nature, but in most circumstances we do have the opportunity to decide who to apply it to. In the case of the Aurora shooting, the young men didn’t have time to think about what they were doing, but that kind of violence is a very, very rare occurrence. Because the circumstances were so exceptional and the emergency so sudden, we had the opportunity to see the stuff men are really made of. However, a man is far more likely to find himself on the receiving end of violence over a woman at a nightclub, and those places are pretty easy to avoid.

The real rage MRAs feel, and I share it myself, is over the exhortation to sacrifice for people who have nothing but contempt for most men. That is sheer manipulation of our instincts, along the lines of charities that show forlorn babies on TV in an effort to extract money from the purses of soft-minded old ladies. There is something truly evil about plucking on people’s heartstrings to compel them to behave in a manner contrary to their own and their families’ interests, and this is one of the more noxious elements of feminism and modern society in general.

If we can recognize this inner hero so many men have, and we can know ourselves and what moves us, it will make it that much more difficult for others to manipulate us, and that much easier for us to act in our interests and do good for those who truly deserve it. As conscious beings, we do have a choice, but exercising it requires both forethought and wisdom.

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