Co-operation & Community








Describing human existence


Kevin Loughran



That each person exists may be considered as a fact, in the singular.But however existence is described Ė in terms of actions; or in terms of ideas or feelings or motives; or in terms of biological processes and the influence of our genes Ė existence, each personís existence, consists of many facts.Some of the facts of a particular personís existence are to do with that person by himself / herself.Some are to do with that personís connection to or interaction with other people.So in describing a particular personís existence, we are describing relationships or forms of association with other people as much as we are describing individual actions and thoughts.Existence is inescapably plural.


But are the forms of association between people an expression of what we are or are they simply collective means to individual ends?Perhaps over time we / our ancestors learnt that co-operation and helping others can be in our individual interests.The process of evolution led to movement from a state of separate existence to a state of co-operative behaviour and co-operative forms of association and co-operative habits of thought.Perhaps such movement happened at one point in human history.Perhaps it happened before the emergence of human beings.Perhaps it happened recurrently, as John Maynard Smith proposed.1


Such views depend on a presumption, the presumption of original solitude.But is there or has there ever been a state of isolation, of original solitude, in which individual humans exist and from which they emerge to enter into forms of association with each other?


There is no evidence for any stage of human evolution which corresponds with such a picture of human existence



Kevin Loughran






1 Quoted in: A Tale of Two Selves, Science (Washington DC, A.A.A.)290949-50 (3 November 2000)

















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