Monday, August 19, 2013

Survival of the fittest

Adam Smith's Capitalism and Darwin's theory of evolution have some parallels. What seems more interesting to me is their differences.

When Darwin talks about survival of the fittest, he is talking about species not individuals. The strongest dinosaurs didn't survive. Species is nothing but a unit of organization of similar individuals. Bees survive by being together in a monarchy. Ants too work together. We have two extremes to work with. Individual as in a single person for Capitalism and "all members of a species" at the other end for Darwin. And then we have Bees and Ants somewhere in between.

The point I am trying to make is that "individual"  is not just something biological. It could be anything that cannot be divided - indivisible.   It is not a person that needs to be fittest, it is the organization of that set of persons, which acts as indivisible is what decides the fate of that "collective individual".  In the worst case, it is just a single biological unit - a person. In the best case, it could be everyone in the species. Or even a subset of species, including the subset all species.

Parasites won't survive without the host. Deer's won't survive without tigers, because too many deers will probably eat all the grass and die of hunger. To me, it feels like what survives is the system. Individuals are too fragile. It is systems with fault tolerance, systems with self balancing, self regulating  mechanisms, that tend to survive.  Strong kings survived. Their next generations survived longer. But what survived longest was the idea of Kingdom.

We should probably look back and figure out - What is survival? What is the time frame in which we look at survival?  And who is fighting? And with whom?  Before we use the term "survival of the fittest".  

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