The Superiority of Altruistic Cooperation

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” John Donne

Alone within the neighborhood
Nothing feels quite right,
But nothing’s wrong with wind or Sun.
The flowers bloom and Spring’s begun.
Life moves past shades of night.

We’re not quite individuals here.
We’re more or less the same.
That “less” adds interest little more,
Ephemeral, a challenge for
New dreams we could attain.

I heard about the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt this past week and started reading the “The Righteous Mind” about “social intuitionism”. He has a Ted Talk praising cooperation for its evolutionary advantages. My quote of John Donne comes at the end this talk. Being about cooperation, it seems to fit our present community prompt.

Linked to dVerse Poetics hosted by Paul with the prompt “community”.
Linked to NaPoWriMo2017 Day Twenty-Six.

Author: Frank Hubeny

I enjoy walking, poetry and short prose as well as taking pictures with my phone.

37 thoughts on “The Superiority of Altruistic Cooperation”

  1. Love your take on the prompt Frank and am enjoying the Ted talk as I type. I think the idea of collective experience discussed here as a function of uniting people toward the sacred is powerful. I may have further comment once it is completed but just wanted to acknowledge your post and contribution to what has been a fascinating response to the

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Paul! I just heard about him this past week from reading another blog although he has been popular for over a decade. I’m usually late at finding things out. What I find interesting is that we may have an “individualist” blinder in our culture when it comes to moral choices. However, this does not mean that individualism is bad.


  2. oops…last post missed a is a really interesting talk…nothing wrong with individualism at all in my mind, it being the basic unit of the group…what is interesting is what can happen when we do pull together. What is difficult to understand is why it seems to take tragedy or war to make that possible at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I see it tragedy and war are just some of the ways cooperation manifests itself. They aren’t the only ways. He also mentioned that cooperation can be very destructive as well as constructive. So one still needs to be careful with what one is supporting.


      1. Some cooperation is destructive. Some is inefficient because it is only superficially cooperation. Some cooperation will be unsuccessful. Overall, I can see how cooperation should make those who cooperate stronger and more successful overall.


  3. I will listen to the TED Talk later Frank ~ I like the value of the individual within the community ~ Whether we follow our own thoughts or that of the community, its our own choice but I don’t think it is very far apart ~

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting poem and TED talk…I believe we’re each created as unique individuals, all of us are religious/spiritual beings, and we desire to connect with God and each other!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alone within the neighborhood
    Nothing feels quite right

    Yes, nothing feels right but there’s nothing wrong otherwise. The neighborhood revolves on its own steam. But somehow the community seems to be separately aligned unlike the days gone by.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was trying to focus on that individual who feels isolated even though every individual is in neighborhood of others as well as a neighborhood of everything else in world. The community of the past did seem more real as you mention. Thanks, Hank!


  6. I can’t help but think of the present conditions at the White House in that so many leaders have not been appointed to vacancies who are desperate for some guidance, are threatened with so many issues as a result.
    I enjoyed the video also. Great little poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I’m still reading and trying to make sense out of Haidt’s book. He studies people to understand moral psychology which would have something to do with how we participate in politics as well as religion.


  7. you often have a play with words for the reader to digest: this is no exception
    “We’re more or less the same.
    That “less” adds interest little more,”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Laura. I liked that line the best in the poem although after reading more of Haidt’s book I don’t think I clarified well what modern individualism is. I may have made it look like we are not individuals when it might be better to say we are or can be more than individuals.


  8. HoLy
    wHOle MoRe
    MeaNinG noW
    PurpoSe aLL aS
    dArK cOMEs LiGht
    DancE CoMeS SoNG
    MuSicK SouND Now
    ForEveR iNSpiRinG
    NoW toGeThEr
    mY FriEnd
    thaN thaT Thanks
    For shArinG anoTheR
    Wonderful inSpirinG
    toGeThERNess Science
    Aided Project by Jonathan Ted Talk Haidt..
    WiLL most DefiniTely shARe too.. mY FriEnd..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your poem strikes me as being as beautiful as it is powerful, Frank. The first stanza, I think, adds depth and mystery to the second.

    I’m more familiar with Haidt from his Moral Foundations Theory than I am with him from his ideas about religion and spirituality. Quite an interesting speech!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think when Haidt is talking about spirituality he is referencing his fifth foundation, the sacred or divinity. I am still reading his book, “The Righteous Mind”. His ideas are new to me, but they make sense. It is nice to have five foundations rather than one or two. This ground allows choices to become more interesting. However, I hear some mechanistic metaphors that make me suspicious of his position. As a Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic person (WEIRD, as he describes himself) I don’t think he is seeing clearly out of his own moral “matrix” (another mechanistic metaphor) although he sees better than most of us do. His attempts to persuade conservatives will fail because he will not likely submit (authority foundation) to a theistic (sacred foundation) reality. I don’t think he will be able to substitute the nation or flag for a more transcendent deity to please all of them. But I have half of the book yet to read. My mind is still too unsure to know what I think about him.

      I am glad you liked the poem, Paul!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I try to have a mind open to better see what is true, but as Haidt mentions, our rationality is primarily there to justify positions we have already taken, not to find the truth unless finding the truth helps us to better rationalize our positions. Being unsure may be a way to trick the rationalizing part of our mind, keeping it open. Thanks, Nan!


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