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Old 01-21-2009, 06:27 AM   #16
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Competition can lead as much to destruction as to survival.
I'm with you.

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On a biological level we compete for mates, the survival of our inherited information is dependent on it. That is probably the most relevant issue of competition for most people, and a lot of other competition is arguably reducible to that biological end (with a lot of headroom for superfluous and useless culture, and the fact that culture can be useless from a biological perspective is not necessarily a bad thing).

I would not got as far as adopting Spencerian ethics, but I do think that if you want to succeed in a career you must be ambitious, political, intelligent, and charismatic. Yes we are capable of co-operating, and we are nicer than a simplistic evolutionary model suggests we should be (and that ties into issues of kin selection and reciprocal altruism), but competition is a feature of human society and it has led to some amazing achievements (conquest, moon landings, technological breakthroughs etc.).

It has an important role in economics and politics, in our daily interactions with other people, and within our own families. We aren't just actors who pursue a game-theoretical rational self interest, but a lot of what we intuitively feel we should do happens to match the advantageous strategies developed with those models (the classic tit for tat solution for the iterated prisoners dilemma simulation for instance).

I think that competition is an intrinsic part of human nature, that it will always be part of our character (as opposed to ants, where there is genuine communistic cooperation), and that we can foster a civil society that minimises the harm that our competitive drive causes (so a big yes for safety nets, human solidarity, upward social mobility etc.).
I knew if anyone could argue the affirmative, it would be you, A_W.

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Interesting topic...

One that comes very loaded in this political environment...

This can be twisted many different ways.

Are there any parameters set?
None that I know of. It's not for my class, but one of my homeroom students came by after school and was telling me about it. It's for their Environmental Science class.

I personally thought the statement was far too simplistic and absolute and think it should be easy to shoot down on that basis alone. (My student was arguing the negative so I've been thinking more along those lines).
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:04 AM   #17
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Seems to me we all survive better with cooperation than competition, social creatures that we are. On the other hand, we may excel with competition. Two separate things.
Who we choose to cooperate with, who/what we view as competition and whether an outcome is accepted as win-lose or win-win permeates every facet of our culture.

When striving for win-win, most challenging I guess is how to produce the competitive tension necessary for progress while minimizing destructive consequences.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:03 PM   #18
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You wink, but read up on the evolution of mammals and you will find that resource competition between gestating mothers and parasitic embryos is a very important form of competition; it is part of the reason that placental mammals have been so versatile.
I'll get right on that.
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:50 PM   #19
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I would not got as far as adopting Spencerian ethics, but I do think that if you want to succeed in a career you must be ambitious, political, intelligent, and charismatic.
Ho hum. I remember reading some interview with a very successful scientific entrepreneur when he said he did not feel particularly 'driven' and disputed that it was even beneficial to be overly driven or ambitious, as it usually meant you were pushing yourself to do something you didn't really want to do.

Way I see it, find something you like doing, words like 'ambition' and 'drive' are essentially meaningless.

I have also found that intelligence is a considerable drawback in advancing to the top of corporate life.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:14 PM   #20
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My own experience is that when you go into something that you like doing there are a lot of other people with the same aspirations, and a limited number of careers, and you must distinguish yourself if you want to succeed.
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