Chapter 5. Conclusion

This essay has looked at a range of evidence suggesting that the view of evolution taken by many of the contributors to the Evolution of Language series is biased and confused. That view fails to take into account the ubiquity of cooperation, collaboration and symbiosis present in Nature and claims to be able to explain away what cooperation it does acknowledge as "anomalous". Due to constraints on the size of this essay, I have been able to do little more than scratch the surface as to the extent of cooperative behaviour in Nature. I invite the reader to look up some of the works referenced throughout this work. Nevertheless, I believe my essay contains sufficient evidence to raise serious doubts as to the propriety of taking "selfish gene" Darwinism as our starting point. We must at least be on the defensive against taking metaphors too literally.

Carroll and Loye (1992:137) sum it up best when they say:

Our interest is in behavioral evolution, and it is a mistake to equate evolution by natural selection with direct behavioral competition or aggression. Animals do contest for resources, chiefly food and mates, which are the most vital links in the chain of reproduction, but they also cooperate towards the same ends.

The sooner we realise that organisms are not best seen as products of their "selfish genes", the sooner we can get on to asking the important questions about how language came about.


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