Ashley Montagu

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Book Chapter

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What I have been hoping to do in this talk is to provide the scientific basis for the biological kinship of humans with other animals in particular and the whole of nature in general, and to show that the ethical perspective to which such a demonstration leads is inherent in the very nature of nature, that cooperation, love, not conflict and aggression, as we have long been led to believe, is the dominant principle by which living creatures are designed to live with each other. It was not Darwin, but the muscular Darwinists, like Herbert Spencer, who wasn't a biologist at all, but a desk philosopher, who coined the term, "the survival of the fittest," a misnomer which Darwin unfortunately adopted, but later regretted. The term, as we have better come to understand the facts, was a blunder, for it is the "fit" who are most likely to survive, not the "fittest," for the fittest are likely to be overspecialized, where flexibility, adaptability, is required.


Keynote Address: Presented at the national conference, "Animals and Humans: Ethical Perspectives," Moorhead State University, Moorhead, MN, April 21-23, 1986.