Kropotkin and the science of altruism

Science historians Oren Harman and Mark Borello discuss the science of altruism and the relationship between politics and science.

Submitted by Choccy on November 15, 2010

Oren Harman recently authored a book on the bizarre and tragic life of George Price and has also written on 'mavericks' in biology including Richard Lewontin. In a recent 'diavlog' with Mark Borello he discusses the science of altruism with reference to the work of Kropotkin, mentioning both Kropotkin's politics and his scientific work, and contrasting it with the likes of TH Huxley.

The conversation also takes in 20th century debates over levels of selection discussing communist biologists like JBS Haldane along the way. Most interesting is the discussion of the tragic life of George Price, who was pivotal in mathematical biology but who, after a conversion to Christianity, went slowly mad and gave most of his possessions to the poor, plunging into depression, and eventually committing suicide in 1975.



13 years 8 months ago

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Submitted by Anarcho on November 21, 2010

You may be interested in my pamphlet on Kropotkin's ideas:

Kropotkin's Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation

It has a sub-section on mutual aid and altruism (which Kropotkin, rightly, did not think were the same), along with discussions of mutual aid and class struggle, how it has faired in terms of modern biology (very well, in short), and so on. It has just been published by AK Press in the UK.


13 years 7 months ago

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Submitted by Choccy on November 29, 2010

Yeah seen it before ;)
Was it used as an intro to a recent reprint of Mutual Aid?

Submitted by Anarcho on December 6, 2010


Was it used as an intro to a recent reprint of Mutual Aid?

Some of it, the further reading and biography bit. It was originally written as an introduction to that edition, but Freedom decided it was too long. Well, it did become longer than I originally intended!

I argued that a new edition of a book most people already had and which had other versions available needs a reason to be bought, so a introduction which covered how well it has stood up as well as how it fitted into his politics would make sense. Unfortuntately, they disagreed.

Still, AK Press in the UK agreed to publish it so at least it has seen the light of day...