30 Jun 2009
Tolerance as adaptation
Tolerance is an aspect of modern human behavior, which appeared together with language and culture. Modern humans cooperate with non-relatives in coordinated actions, accept strangers and live together with foreigners.
Can you talk of tolerance in the stone age? Hardly. A man from the lower palaeolithic certainly had little tolerance for strangers who occupied his cave, picked his berries, and hunted his deer. Resources were limited. Apparently tolerance towards strangers appeared together with language and culture, when hunters turned into
cattle-breeders and gathers turned into farmers. At that time a resource surplus allowed the emergence of cities, countries, buildings and institutions.
Tolerance means accepting diversity, accepting group members and other groups which are different. It seems to be an adaptation to cooperation by strangers. Tolerance is an adaptation to
- ..living with strangers (in cities)
- ..continued presence of foreigners
- ..cooperation by strangers/foreigners
- ..chances/inspiration/praise by foreigners
If this is correct, then intolerance is an adaptation to competition by strangers. The repellent and protective behavior, which is related to arrogance, is an adaptation to
- ..living without strangers (in the country)
- ..total absence of foreigners
- ..competition by strangers/foreigners
- ..threats/oppression/accusations by foreigners