Darwin’s Touch: Survival of the Kindest

Think of Darwin and “survival of the fittest” leaps to mind, as do images of competitive individuals — collections of selfish genes — going at one another bloody in tooth and claw. “Survival of the fittest” was not Darwin’s phrase, but Herbert Spencer’s and that of Social Darwinists who used Darwin to justify their wished-for superiority of different classes and races. “Survival of the kindest” better captures Darwin’s thinking about his own kind.

In Darwin’s first book about humans, The Descent of Man, and Selection In Relation to Sex from 1871, Darwin argued for “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” His reasoning was disarmingly intuitive: in our hominid predecessors, communities of more sympathetic individuals were more successful in raising healthier offspring to the age of viability and reproduction — the sine qua non of evolution…

Read the whole article by Dacher Keltner in Psychology Today.

Watch the short YouTube video: We Are Built To Be Kind

Or a longer one: Dacher Keltner – Survival of the Kindest