Kindness and selflessness are widespread among both humans and animals. Many people donate to charity and feel significantly happier as a direct result of doing so. In the animal kingdom, many species show kindness by refraining from violence when settling conflicts. Instead they may use comparatively harmless fighting conventions.
The benefits gained from receiving kindness are intuitively obvious. But the motivations for engaging in kindness are much less so. In fact, the very existence of kindness and altruism seems to contradict Darwin’s theory of evolution, based as it is on a competitive process of natural selection in which only the fittest survive.
For example, the selfless behaviour of sterile ants, who protect their colonies from dangerous predators, poses a problem that Darwin himself at first considered “insuperable, and actually fatal to my whole theory”.
So how could kind behaviour have evolved – and why was it not eliminated by natural selection? Many theorists have grappled with this problem over the years. The article reviews the most prominent ideas of science up to now. (1)
In essence, all theories which try to explain kindness actually refute it: in all of them there is some kind of benefit coming out of the kind action. And what scientists don’t understand is that this actually makes the action… not kind!
You are not good when you calculate things.
You are not a nice person when you know why you love someone.
You are not a saint when you can analyze exactly why you are…
Kindness is inherently illogical.
Being good is being insane.
Caring in a cosmos which seems void and dark.
Loving in a cosmos which seems pointless and evil.
And yet this insanity is the warmest thing in this cold universe…
For no (apparent) reason…