Friday, February 11, 2011

Will Evolution Remove Emotions?

Animals survive on basic instincts. Fear can be a helpful mechanism in terms of fight-or-flight response. If an animal is backed into a corner it will become aggressive as a need to survive. In some cases fear can lead to self defecation which can ward off predators as well. Emotional responses like that have been very handy evolutionarily for animals and early man, but is it necessary anymore? Will emotions even exist in a few hundred/thousand years?

Ancient man needed emotions to survive. Without fear there would be no need for protection. Without love there would be no need for procreation. Without jealousy and envy there would be no need for competition (which would lead to procreation). Eating habits (which can be argued is not emotional, but by today's standards I would disagree) were also required for survival. In today's world though it seems these emotional responses lead to more problems than needs.

Taking eating as a prime example. For early man, food sources were scarce and so our eating habits developed out of necessity for survival. Now food is too plentiful and our eating habits haven't changed much. We've developed faster than we've evolved. We eat fast, with as much quantity as we can handle, numerous times a day, and sometimes not even because we are hungry. Sometimes our emotions even control how we eat. We eat out of depression, anxiety, boredom, desire, and any other reason we can think of at the time. This dramatic change has led to an epidemic of obesity. All because of emotional response.

Now think about the potential benefits of anger, jealousy, and envy. Ancient man used these emotions to protect his family from predators, lead a tribe, etc. Now these emotions get used to dominate other man. We use these emotions to lead war, steal, cheat, kill, and a whole number of unnecessary acts of "survival." We are at the top of the food chain and there is no predatory threat anymore. There is no more nomadic behavior. We are a sedentary species that survives more on mathematics than on nature (business vs instincts).

Love is an interesting topic. We probably developed love to create lasting monogomous relationships because the human population was very low. Now people are everywhere and we can find a potential partner anywhere we want. For early man, love allowed for a much greater success of procreation. Now we can achieve procreation without monogamy (and in fact, many people do).

We evolved emotions because of physical need for survival, but our development has advanced at a much faster rate than our own evolution. Because of this, we will evolve into something other than what nature originally intended. Will we one day be without emotion? Probably not, but I could imagine a world where our emotions are more toned down because the need for them is rapidly diminishing. I'm not saying emotions are completely unnecessary because they aren't. I'm saying that there are a lot of unforeseen side effects from emotions because of our own development.

I could see a world where our dependence on love is reduced. It could be argued that love has resulted in human overpopulation. I could also see our evolution advance toward an improved emotional control. Our bodies aren't designed to consume as much food as we do (and it's obvious from today's society) and evolution could fix that in more than one way.

But this leads me to another thought. Because our development is rapidly increasing with no end in sight, do you think we'll beat nature to the punch and improve our own emotional response either chemically or genetically? We're already on that path with the large number of prescription (and non-prescription) drugs that can affect brain behavior. Several movies like THX and Equilibrium already predict this future and they may not be too far off. Only time will tell I guess.


Poopdick said...

ur retarded

Thom said...

using your emotions to respond? typical

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