After drafting sections of an essay in the blog, it was finally published in the Montreal Review and can be seen by clicking here.
For many years the political right has implicitly drawn on the authority of Darwin’s paradigm of life as a struggle for fitness to support a Hobbesian “warre of every man against every man” philosophy of human nature. In contrast, on the left, the authority of optimistic views of human nature have suffered in the post-Darwin era because they appear to lack evolutionary depth. This essay directly addresses that problem.
I spent 35 years as a practicing psychiatrist studying severe mental illnesses for what they reveal about the deep evolution of human emotions and motivations. At the same time, I closely followed the science of paleoanthropology. I have collected a wealth of convergent evidence that supports the hypothesis that crucial changes in human evolution occurred in the mind. This 5,920-word essay is an argument for the proposition that the most human element of our nature is a deep collective instinct for justice which has been evolving since the human evolutionary tree branched from apes. The essay demonstrates how an optimistic and progressive view of human nature is consistent with the major scientific findings relevant to human evolution.