De-Evolution of Humanity and the Will to Power

All living creatures have a will to power, because those that didn’t ended up dying - there was no alternative. It was instilled into all living creatures through natural selection.
You could say that all human action is related (either directly or indirectly) to the will to power:
We eat so we don’t die,
We have sex to propagate the species,
We compete so that an alpha male can be determined as the leader; he will have the most offspring so that humans become stronger through each generation,
We, as humans, have a tendency to learn new information, explore new places, discover new things, and to improve/fix things (which is beneficial to the species because those improvements/discoveries might aid us and increase the rate of survival),
We wear clothes to preserve body heat, we live in houses to shield us from the weather and also to provide security,

All of those things exist because evolution found them beneficial.

Now what about supposedly “selfless” human traits? Couldn’t these just be reduced to the will to power?
-“Love” could just be a fear of being alone; whenever we have to leave loved ones for a while, we tell them before we go that we love them - because we are scared that they might be gone when we get back. We are scared of being without them.
-“Compassion” and “cooperation” could just be that evolution found it more beneficial when humans work together as opposed to being alone.

So do these emotions of “love and cooperation” really even exist independently of the will to power? Or are they just there because evolution found it beneficial for them to exist?

I think that “selfless” human traits such as compassion and love do in fact exist independently of the will to power within the human mind. Evolution will support what it finds beneficial - it found that when it was pleasurable for human beings to be selfless and considerate of others, that they had a higher rate of survival. As a result, humanity became more socialable and more compassionate. It was only when this “gap” became large enough, the gap between acting based on self-interest and acting based on compassion/cooperation, that evolution was able to make the “jump” from a selfish species to a compassionate one. These “selfless” traits exist independently of self-interest, and they only inadvertently appeal to the Will to Power.

What about activities that seemingly have no correlation to the will to power? Such as ice-skating; why is ice-skating “fun”? Evolution never found it beneficial for humans to ice-skate.
The reason ice skating, and indeed all recreational activities involving kinetic movements (roller coasters, fair rides, down-hill skiing, etc), are “fun” is because our body instinctively releases adrenaline as an immediate response whenever the body experiences any strange/abnormal movements. Then when the mind determines that there was no cause for alarm and that the strange/abnormal movement is completely safe, the brain releases endorphins to counteract the adrenaline rush; hence the feeling of enjoyment and excitement.

We can even see this in animals: Cats usually do not like riding in cars or being in vehicles. Why? Because cats naturally have a fine-tuned since of balance, and when their bodies experience any abnormal kinetic movements (such as being in a moving car) their body automatically releases a ton of adrenaline to prepare for them to react (the purpose of this adrenaline release might be so that if a cat is falling, say out of a tree or something, the adrenaline will allow it to react and land on its feet). Even if the cat is unaware that the car is moving, the cats body still picks up on the abnormal movements that are happening and it causes a prolonged sense of panic in the cat until it can finally leaves the car. Some cats can adjust to this and be able to comfortably ride in cars, but this is uncommon. I had a cat once that would panic and start clawing you if you brought it within 20 feet of a car; it hated cars that much.
Dogs, on the other hand, did not have a “fine sense of balance” instilled into them through evolution, and riding in a car can be much more tolerable for a dog. You often see them with their head out the window, tongue out, catching the breeze and enjoying the unique and exciting experience of seeing new places and smelling new smells.

Humans have somewhat of a good sense of balance (we can walk on two feet after all) which evolution had instilled into us after a good deal of our ancestors had tripped and fell flat on their face. Eventually, all humans had an instinctive sense of balance (not on the same level as house cats, since they evolved to gain an instinct to prevent falling out of trees and landing on their feet if they do, not an instinct to prevent tripping and landing on their face).

The human mind seems to have an inherent desire to explore/learn/experiment, this could be because evolution found intelligence to be a beneficial trait. It allowed for new discoveries to be made that could improve the likelihood of survival. We tinker with and experiment with inanimate objects, and we are capable of figuring out how those inanimate objects could be used help improve tasks in our life. You could say that humans have a “will to improvement” or a “will to technology” that other animals do not have (excluding some primates who can learn how to use primitive tools).

Has our “Will to Technology” had some consequences? I would say so:
-Because we wore clothing to preserve body heat, body hair was deemed to be “out-dated” by evolution and slowly disappeared through the generations.
-After humanity had been cooking its food long enough (to preserve the length of time you had before the meat spoiled), our digestive system lost the ability to eat raw meat.

This process of “de-evolution” seems to be happening very quickly:
-Ever since humans have been relying on artificial light to help our vision during the night or whenever its dark, we are slowly losing our natural ability to see adequately during the night without artificial light.
-Since we have switched to purer forms of drinking water, we are losing our ability to drink lake/river water without getting sick.

What will be the next to go? Humans nowadays have to do almost nothing to maintain their own survival. I’d be willing to bet that a person could go there whole life (and whats even more depressing is that some people do) living off of welfare and having food delivered to them instead of having to walk to go get it. However, human laziness doesn’t appear to be having a significant affect on our gene pool just yet. Once a person becomes too fat, they are deemed as unattractive and no one wants to reproduce with them - this filters out fat people and effectively stops the human population from becoming too fat. Not to mention, it is harder for obese people to conceive children (their drive for sex declines as well as their potency due to a poor diet) so this factors in as well. So thankfully, human shallowness will save us from a would-be dystopian future where everyone is morbidly obese.

But this raises another question, could human-shallowness be influencing the human gene pool? Since “attractive” people reproduce more often than “unattractive people”, this turns natural selection’s “Survival of the fittest” into “Survival of the cutest”. Also, since intelligence has a negative correlation with reproduction (the more intelligent a person is, the slower the rate of reproduction is), intelligence might just begin to drop or reach a plateau. Why does intelligence have a negative correlation with reproduction? Intelligent people plan ahead and realize that they shouldn’t have children until they are older - where as unintelligent people make decisions simply based off of what “feels good” and have sex anyways. Intelligent people are also more likely to use contraception to prevent pregnancy than unintelligent people. Also, since intelligence is the most recent of traits that humanity has developed, it will probably disappear a lot quicker than body hair or ability to eat raw meat.
The amount of pleasure during sex could play a role in de-evolution too. The more pleasurable a person finds sex, the more likely they are to have sex. So assuming that “finding sex pleasurable” is a trait that is passed on to children, sex might become more pleasurable for humanity over time.
Another human trait which evolution might amplify is charisma. The more charismatic a person is, the more likely they are to convince other people to have sex.
Theoretically, any hereditary trait will be amplified if that trait increases the rate of reproduction for those who have it. As long as humanity does not have to concentrate on its own survival, then natural selection will only reward those who reproduce the fastest. “Survival of the fittest” won’t resume until human life is no longer maintained by technology.

It seems like the next step in human evolution will be transitioning to a human race that is less intelligent, more beautiful, more charismatic/emotional/artistic, and experiences more pleasure. Morals will begin to decline, and “right” and “wrong” will be a popularity contest (as if they aren’t already).
Since a great deal of communication is done through text or on a computer screen, interpersonal communication might begin to disappear (this is happening now even without evolution). Although it could actually benefit interpersonal people, since people who were already shy and lacking social skills will become even more shy and lacking even more social skills as a result of reliance on text communication. So it depends on whether you think interpersonal people or non-interpersonal people will reproduce more as a result of our reliance on text communication.

I would just like to add that even seemingly “selfless” acts can be promotive of the self or Will to Power in very round-a-bout ways. Politicians and religious groups have been exploiting ideas like “love” and “compassion” for decades, often for purposes of recruitment or even just providing an illusion of comfort, acceptance, or “togetherness”. Arguably, most members of influential groups (meaning active groups that seek members and expansion) become bent on some collective Will to Power simply to grasp at an illusion of acceptance that said groups often cling to - perhaps this illusion is what keeps the unerlying drives of the respective members uniform, in some respect.

I would also say the the “Will to technology”, as you mentioned, could be considered utility of the Will to Power in that nearly all “power” (or what we recognize as such) is aquired or displayed through technological advance or material ownership. Even the material ownership is a product of technological advancements of the past, so I would eve go so far as to say the speed of technological advancement is possibly the closest indicator we have of the Will to Power on a world scale.

Last, I had to consider your theory of de-evolution in linear form, as genetic traits and learned behaviors are passed through generations. Our current state is certainly dependant upon all states that preceeded and the sum of all transitions that ocurred in the meantime. If you think about it though, human beings are considered the top of the food chain, and certainly the most intelligent form of life that we know of. Perhaps, in the realization of such a conclusion, people have lost or denied their inherent drives toward evolution and/or improvement. Perhaps we feel there is little else to strive for as an animal, so we have effectively created an artificial world in which we can strive for things like money, success, and respect – a new avenue for the Will to Power?

very interesting post Peachy - just one note on Nietzsche (open to correction, of course) - he sees will to power in humans as being far beyond just biological survival - but actually life enhancement - not just “I’ll go on” but I’ll go on because i want too! (I might be putting that badly)

I think that Nietzsche saw “the slave revolt in morals” as very much a collective excercise of will to power and one which actually created much in teh way of human cuklture but at great cost to “the strong”. Final potential end point of this excerice of mass ressentiment and negative re-valuation (weakness (meekness acceptance etc) and heard values re-tooled as “the good”) was mass Nihilism for him…

very interesting post Peachy - just one note on Nietzsche (open to correction by “the experts” of course) - he sees will to power in humans as being far beyond just biological survival - but actually life enhancement - not just “I’ll go on” but I’ll go on because i want too!

(I might be putting that badly)

I think that Nietzsche saw “the slave revolt in morals” as very much a collective exercise of will to power and one which actually created much in the way of human culture but at a great cost to “the strong”.

Final potential end point of this exercise of mass ressentiment and negative re-valuation (weakness (meekness acceptance etc) and herd values re-tooled as “the good” “the right” “the morally correct”) was mass Nihilism for him…that we would will nothing rather then stop willing altogether…

kp

It is good to point out that notions such as love and compassion exist. It appears as though these attributes exist because of genetic selection. Genes for love and compassion are passed on to future generations. These genes have probably not always been benificial for survival. How the human race will continue to evolve is a highly complicated matter. If the enviroment did not change over a long period of time evolution would quit happening. It is obvious that those that reproduce with more frequency will be more numerous. So whatever traits lead to more reproduction will be the traits found more frequently in the human race of the future. I think that we both agree on these basic ideas.

I would like to focus on the last part about the human race devolving to be less intelligent in order to give a more in depth analysis. If we look at a population of people we will see that intelligence correlates with a drop in reproduction. Intelligence, however, might be more related to a cultural upbringing than some innate concept. There are obviously genetic differences between people. These genetic differences influence the way that intelligence is expressed with the enviroment. However, if you raise a person in a less educated household and raise the same person in a more educated household the same person raised in the educated household will generally have a higher intelligence. The other thing that needs to be pointed out is that although reproduction decreases with intelligence it also decreases with education. Educational levels are as I previously pointed out correlated to intelligence. Educated people tend to live in societies where there is a greater number of surviving offspring. This is due to a variety of factors. The mortality rate in less educated countries is much higher than in educated countries. The mortality helps to keep the population somewhat at bay in less educated countries. Epidemics come along and wipe out large numbers of these humans. In the future the less educated might be the hardest hit due to global warming. They might also be hit hard by other natural disasters and what not. Not to say that the less intelligent and less educated people will not be the ones to reproduce but rather to say that these less intelligent and less educated people will not necessarily be the ones to survive. We live in a technological age where technology helps to keep the human population alive by fending of threats such as global warming, plagues and other catastrophes. These occurances have less effect on those who can intelligently defend against them. I am not argueing that it will go one way or the other. Rather I am just giving an outline of some of the counter arguments.