Written by Erin Inman.
Dacher Keltner Ph.D., professor of psychology at UC-Berkeley and the faculty director of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, spoke Thursday night on compassion from an evolutionary, “survival-of-the-kindest” perspective.
The talk was a part of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education’s (CCARE) Meng Wu Lecture Series, which celebrates researchers’ thoughts on compassion and related fields.
“Evolutionary thought has had a lot of trouble thinking about the deep origins of compassion and altruism,” Keltner said. While knowledge of human morphology and social behaviors has advanced, social theorists are divided on the nature of human goodness, opting for either a metaphysical or cultural construct.
Darwin first attempted to explain survival of the kindest by positing that those with a stronger sympathy trait will flourish and reproduce, thereby allowing the trait to increase in prevalence, Keltner said.
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