We all have goals. We want to be attractive to others. We want to be successful in our work. We want to be respected. And we want to raise healthy families that are successful themselves.
But most (and perhaps all) of these goals are not our own, but evolution’s.
Ask yourself a simple question:
Evolutionary Psychology continues to reveal what makes humans act. It makes us try to appear better than we are. Smarter. Fitter. Sexier.
Evolution makes us want to be better mates, better fathers, better mothers, more successful at work, more creative in our hobbies, and just generally better.
So where do those evolutionary drives stop and our individual identities start? Is there even a distinction?
I don’t think there is for most people, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What I do consider to be negative is not realizing this. Similar to the free will discussion, the biggest issue for me is being completely ignorant of the illusion.
If we knew and accepted that these things (freedom of will and non-evolutionary goals) were illusory it would start us at a healthy ground floor of truth that we could build upon.
But if you ask the average person today why they do what they do every day, and remind them about how evolution drives us to do those same things, they’ll likely claim—just as with free will—that they’re in complete control of their own goals and desires.
They’ll acknowldege that evolution has some soft of influence, but go on to claim that they want to be a better person or an astronaut or a model for their own reasons, not because of biology.
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It’s just fascinating to me to imagine billions of people on the planet who are 100% confused about the nature of reality.
They think they have free will. They don’t. They think their desires and goals are self-determined. They aren’t.
So they proceed through life like natural selection puppets who believe they’re real people.
And what could make them real people?
Looking up at the strings. Acknowledging that they are in fact being led about by biology and physics. Only then can they smile and say,
Ignorance is not bliss. It is a source of deception and suffering.
Let us cut the strings by acknowledging them. Only then can we start our business of being truly human.
What are goals that are separate from evolution’s goals? How about pure altruism? How about meditating monks? Are they sufficiently divorced from evolutionary drives as to live outside their incentive and reward system?