Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Competition vs cooperation

It’s assumed that European population was only 29,000 humans some 15,000 years ago (eg, Academia, Conversation). I have little doubt about that 29,000 number because the Last Glacial Maximum occurred between 26,500 years and 19–20,000 years ago, during which “vast ice sheets covered much of North America, Northern Europe, and Asia”.

The current interglacial period started some 11,700 years ago, following a massive melting of ice and an enormous post-glacial sea level rise of some 120-140 meters (c. 400 feet). There must have been an abundance of resources (eg, food, water) for those 29,000 humans in Europe. There was no need for competition (eg, between tribes), and every need for cooperation.

The Conversation: “As the anthropologist Bruce Knauft has remarked, hunter-gatherers are characterised by “extreme political and sexual egalitarianism”. Individuals in such groups don’t accumulate their own property and possessions. They have a moral obligation to share everything.” 

Hence, our “recent” past shows an absence of most of the 7 Belief systems. I assume that Love was their only belief system (eg, agápe, érosphilia, storge, philautia, xenia). I do not assume that egalitarianism was a philosophical belief of hunter-gatherers.

Life and nature are characterized by three (collective) development stages: Needs, Wants & Beliefs (my blogs). Species using tools are in the Wants stage (eg, birds, monkeys). Only humans are in the Beliefs stage, although some animals show signs of religious behaviour. My 2016 blog concluded “that our ability to separate perception from reality is the fundamental reason why humans developed beliefs”.

Anthropologist Agustín Fuentes confirmed my 2016 concept and conclusions in his articles Why we believe (2017) and How did belief evolve (2020). His 2004 study and his 2014 Ted Talk supports the views of Bruce Knauft: It’s not all sex and violence: cooperation in human evolution

In 2020, the European population is nearly 750 million and our many beliefs have been categorized in the 7 Belief systems (2016 version, 2019 update). Hence, scarcity of resources may have been the cause for the rise in our beliefs, while competition is an effect. Please also see my related competition-cooperation blogs Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat and part 2, its follow-up.

Two related quotes:

  • If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative. Unknown author
  • Trying to be number one and trying to do a task well are two different things. Alfie Kohn

You Ain’t The Problem (2019) by Michael Kiwanuka
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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