When one-sided cooperation fails

We hear the secularist calls for cooperation. We hear that women can have more to offer in the wake of Anthony Weiner`s failings. Men are said to be too competitive, and too much interested in their ego, too much as risk takers.

However, there is a problem with a one-sided call for cooperation. The call is merely for the sake of cooperation, and the worthiness of a cooperative system is taken for granted. For example, sometimes risk taking is needed, and a collective body can be indecisive when bold leadership is needed. We can only cooperate if we trust the system. An untrustworthy system will find only competition, even as it calls for cooperation and higher taxes to support more and more bloated government. Cooperation is no more a panacea than competition was, and so it is cooperation that must also be brought to its negation in the one-sided.

Is natural selection about competition, or cooperation? Darwin`s original formulation merged into “survival of the fittest.” This interpretation culminated in the eugenics movement, and unfortunate happenings in the first half of the twentieth century. But nowadays its is more fashionable to note the importance of the cooperation that is apparent in evolution. Nevertheless, there is a problem in pointing to an evolution driven by competition, or cooperation. Only an agent can compete, or cooperate, and a blind watchmaker is useless at both. There is no one-sided mapping of life`s impetus to survive on a natural selection that is thought to be otherwise indifferent. Both competition and cooperation fail to describe what is carried innately by life, because these words come with definitions that are not self-contained.

Hegel can come to the rescue, and provide a solution that is dialectical. Natural selection was first thought to be competitive enough for Darwin, as he accepted Herbert Spencer`s coinage of “survival of the fittest.” But this initial attempt to characterize evolution fails in what Hegel calls the first negation. The trick is to note that cooperation also fails to describe evolution, i.e., in a second negation. We need only observe that life fails to cooperate with other life that are found untrustworthy. Tame animals will rebel from domestication if good animal husbandry is not followed. These animals will go feral, and their offspring will be almost wild in one generation despite the years of selective breeding.

Cooperation will also meet the second negation. And therefore, Hegel noted that competition and cooperation must form a synthesis. This synthesis is no longer described by a natural selection that is thought indifferent, however. To compete, or cooperate, depends on the vital impetus, and this is now finding agreement with Hegel`s absolute Concept. The vital impetus is Spirit.

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