Monday, November 06, 2006

kharma (is too ambitious a title for this post)

last night at beers i posed the following questions: do you (tucker, sal) think that what.goes.around.comes.around is a law of the universe, or that it's a law of human nature-- that we unconsciously set ourselves up to get what we secretly think we deserve? i'd never thought to compare this pop.psychology idea of unconscious self-punishment to the big idea of kharma.

then this morning i read about (the question of) group selection-- the question being, might natural selection work at the level of the group? the question is important because everyone's trying to explain altruism and the complexities of group living in a world where it would seem to be in the interest of any given organism to screw over all others at every turn. one suggestion is that groups of cooperative organisms might thrive while a group of folks who'd as soon spit in your eye as shake your hand aren't as likely to. there are problems with group selection models, but they seem to have some limited and interesting applications. which isn't the point.

what i was thinking (vaguely, vaguely) is something about: kharma as built into us and not out in the world at all. what if we were built to live our lives in ways that reminded us, that were always causing us to behave in ways that bring us to circumstances that are always reminding us, of this idea: what.goes.around.comes.around. so we evolved a kind of seeming enforcement (and we evolved to posit the existance of an enforcer, too-- see: the billion recent books on the evolution of religion). not real enforcement. there's nothing like 'fair', in us, or out there somewhere. little reminders. gestures. and they are there because we have to live with each other.

there probably isn't even any such thing as coming back. it seems unlikely that anything you projected out into the world could come back when there's so much world to absorb it.

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