I'm not sure if this is actually a philosophical question, but I was reading a timeline of life on earth and I came to this:

4500-3500 Ma The earliest life appears, possibly at Alkaline vents with the creation of the Last Universal Common Ancestor, possibly derived from self-reproducing RNA molecules.[6][7] The replication of these organisms requires resources like energy, space, and smaller building blocks, which soon become limited, resulting in competition, with natural selection favouring those molecules which are more efficient at replication. DNA molecules then take over as the main replicators and these archaic genomes soon develop inside enclosing membranes which provide a stable physical and chemical environment conducive to their replication: proto-cells.

..and I thought to myself, are we still essentially doing that as we live our lives? I think I'm trying to connect the idea of a human "being competitive" with "evolution".. is there any truth to that?


It's important to realise that evolutionatry competition and the common usage of the word competition do not mean quite the same thing. For example, you could talk about Usain Bolt competing in the 100m but this is only evolutionary competition with the other athletes in they are in competition in terms of evolutionary fitness. Evolutionary fitness encompasses ideas of survival, reproduction and the nurturing of offspring. The only thing that matters, from an evolutionary point of view, is how many successful offspring are produced1. Where human competition does not relate to this, it is not related to competition in the evolutionary sense.

People certainly do still compete in the evolutionary sense for mates, resources, etc. but in the West, in particular, much of human competition has become a very long way removed from anything that relates to evolutionary competition except in the most tangential of ways.

1 - my favoured definition for fitness is number of grandchildren.

  • $\begingroup$ If you have kids and set a horrible example they might be afraid of screwing their own offspring up and decide not to propagate. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Anodide Jan 18 '13 at 3:32

Your question is a little vague, but if I understand it correctly yes.

The crux of evolution is that in essence the resources we need to survive and reproduce are in lower supply than necessary for all to survive- therefore there is competition for such resources.

Those who are more genetically adept to gain those resources are more likely to pass on their genetic material to the next generation.

If you're speaking specifically about Humans there is of course still competition between individuals for resources (money being a primary one now). Competition is just an entirely different game now. Beyond that level of answer it's a philosophical can of worms I don't feel equipped to properly answer, and arguably it doesn't belong here but over in the philosophy stackoverflow.

Hope this helps a bit...


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