“Survival of the fittest”
Survival of the fittest is a lie. It has never applied to animals, humanity, life, or the universe. If you want to use a rule of nature as a defining feature of any of these things, the most relevant alternative is chaos theory.
It is not the fittest that survive, the simplest counter example are natural disasters. Given two species, one that lives underground and is the prey of the other that lives above ground, one would say that the predator is clearly more fit, ad as such evolved to feed on the lesser species. A natural disaster that affects the atmosphere, such as a meteor strike, change in atmospheric composition, or radiation, could easily wipe out the dominant species, and leave the underground species alive as dominant. The same analogy can be used for flying, swimming, heavy, fast, or other such types of “lesser” animals that by pure luck survived while the “dominant” and “fitter” species died out.
Animals do not survive by being strong, they survive by being strong, smart, fast, agile, healthy, resourceful, and lucky. There are too many variables to determine which species will survive, or which is more “fit”. As such the concept of “the fittest” is entirely arbitrary.
One could argue that the term “fittest” simply means those most fit to survive whatever event is going to happen, but this makes the term almost meaningless because as the event that will possibly make them extinct is most likely unpredictable, so it will be hard or impossible to plan for it. This makes the trait that is needed to survive it, whether it be intelligence, strength, being light, heavy, or resistant to radiation, completely arbitrary.
An example of this is if an animal is able to survive in cold climates, and an ice age occurs, then one could say the animal is the fittest since it had what was necessary to survive. But now that it has been established that this specific animal is the fittest, what if the situation changes and instead of an ice age, the climate became extremely warm, and another species more suited to heat survived instead of this other animal. Suddenly the “fact” that the first animal was the fittest is contradicted, and as such the idea of something being the “fittest” because it was able to survive becomes a relative term used to retroactively describe the animals that survived as opposed to describing any specific trait of the animal.
Even Darwin, whose theory of evolution is one of the primary examples people use to support survival of the fittest, said that “sympathy… [is] the noblest part of our nature”.
To apply survival of the fittest to humanity is beyond incorrect, it’s cynical and ignorant. To think that a species of animal so advanced that they control the planet and allow the other animals to live as they were, a species that has evolved past needing physical attributes to expand and defend themselves, is subject to a false and fallacious misconception about the way the world works is extremely ignorant.
“Kill or be killed”
The only argument that justifies fighting is when it is undoubtedly necessary for a greater good. To determine if it is necessary however is extremely hard. One could argue that your survival should be your highest priority, however this is a fallacy. To believe that you are more important than someone else without any objective evidence makes no sense, and is likely derived from the easy yet illogical belief that the fact that “you are yourself” means that you are therefore the most important thing to you. A clear counter example to this extreme use of subjectivity is giving your life for someone else. People who believe that selfishness is good would call self sacrifice illogical, because they falsely assume such an easy life philosophy to avoid making hard decisions and have to deal with the moral implications of them.
Most people will want to live instead of letting someone else live if forced to choose, but that is not what parents do with their children, what activists and revolutionaries do for freedom and justice, it is what your subconscious instinct tells you do to. In most cases your subconscious would be right, but when it comes to choosing between two lives, your subconscious cannot make an informed and unbiased decision like your consciousness and morality can because your instinct is arbitrarily pre-programmed. To let your subconscious choose for you is to avoid making the choice yourself, and to avoid the moral consequences of it.
Everyone deserves to live, and no one is more important than anyone else. In the terrible situation where someone is forced to choose between two lives though, one must consider that there are people whose lives will bring more good than others. You might want to live, and indeed you deserve to, but when you cannot control circumstances, you need to realise that there might be something more important than just you that is worth dying for. Regardless, it is a shame that anyone would have to be in this situation, which is just more reason that we should not be hurting each other or putting others in these situations.
Humanity is not immune to fighting, wars and crimes against humanity have ravaged the earth for thousands of years, we have built weapons that could exterminate all life on earth multiple times over. But the fact that we’ve survived for this long with such weapons shows that humans are not merely savage animals compelled by an instinct to fight. It has been approximately 70 years since we have had nuclear weapons, and longer sine we have had major biological and chemical weapons, and since then the nuclear bomb has only been used twice, both in the same conflict. Although the world has come close to doing so again, it didn’t. Since then parts of the world have not seen wars for decades, or even centuries. There are nations without armies, movements for nuclear non-proliferation and activism for peace. There are those who would see the world consumed by war again, and those who want entire “races” of people eliminated, but the vast majority of humanity does not fight and I believe does not want to fight. Fights are more often than not instigated and supported by those who are selfish and abuse their power for their own ends.
This behavior is described by the phrase used by Einstein and Veblen, “the predatory phase” of humanity. Those who ignorantly and illogically follow survival of the fittest to justify their selfish desires promote this backwards ideology. I think it is extremely good that many parts of the world, whole countries live in relative peace, where the people do not have to worry for their lives or if they will be able to find food on a constant basis. But it is a shame that there are still parts of the world where people do not have access to the things that the rest of us consider as basic and unquestionable. There are still people whose concerns are not materialistic or fueled by desire, but instead simply are trying to get clean water, scraps of food, shelter from the rain and raiders, and just want to survive for another day. The fact that human beings with intelligence, creativity, empathy, and wisdom, who have overcome survival of the fittest, still have to endure such hardships is absolutely unacceptable.
“Life isn’t fair”
One of the reasons that this hasn’t been fixed is that people are still blindly using survival of the fittest as an excuse to justify their selfish behavior. One’s actions in a business or political environment must be for a greater purpose, using positions of power for selfish goals is illogical because it defies any moral justification. It is easy to tell yourself and others that what you’re doing is OK because life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t justify it. Life may not be fair, but you are not life. You do not get to be unfair. Life is the sum of all the deterministic and non deterministic factors that interact with us every day, it is the thing we do not expect and cannot predict or control. You are in control of your own actions, when you choose to be unfair it is because you choose to ignore morality, not because of anything to do with life.
Another excuse people use to clear their consciences is that humans are inherently selfish. As described in a previous essay, there is no known way to prove what human nature is yet, and so to assume that human nature is bad is an arrogant claim. This claim is so arrogant and unfounded that it’s sole purpose, as far as I can see, is to justify one’s own actions to themselves because it is far easier to ignore morality than to be strong and make informed decisions.
“The ends justify the means”
While victory might require exceptions to morality, the question that few people seem to ask themselves is, is the victory worth the losses, and do you even want the victory in the first place. The ends do not necessarily justify the means, because the means are inherently part of the ends. One cannot separate the ends and means as mutually exclusive events. If your goal is to save people, and to do so you end up having to kill others, then you cannot say that the means of killing others justifies the ends of saving some. In reality the means were killing some people, and the ends are some people dead and some people saved. The only way one can think that these ends justify these means is by ignoring all the results of your actions, and only focusing on the fact that your goal was met, which is lying to yourself and ignoring reality.
“You can’t change the world”, “You can’t make a difference alone”
Some people will claim that one person’s attitude or good behavior will always be clouded out by the millions of others who choose not to. This is another fallacy, since this is what those millions tell themselves as well, which ends up in no one trying to make themselves better. It is hard, and often not worth the sacrifices to make worldwide change happen quickly. Instead, we should create a strong foothold for empathy to spread. Perhaps most people ignore it, but if all the people who thought they couldn’t make a difference had just kept promoting peace, we would have a lot
In the future the world can be a place where the only fighting we need to do is to overcome the parts of the universe we cannot control. We should be fighting to promote humanity, not fighting to end fighting. One step to achieving this world is to realise that empathy, kindness and truth cannot be denied, only ignored.
Make this a reality by helping others, thus helping them to learn the same lesson.