The Coronavirus in Evolutionary Perspective

Alexandra Maryanski: The trinity of individualism, a personal self, and community not only had a compelling influence on human social evolution but as brain volume expanded in human evolution,  selection greatly enhanced and refined these traits. For example, the legacy that characterizes a community is what makes it possible for humans to live in large-scale macro-societies where weak ties and cooperation with strangers is essential. It also explains the unsolved mystery of the apparent conflict humans have between a personal self and collectivism — individualists don’t like to be governed. Yet, humans also seek a “sense of community,” an emotion that generates such positive sentiments that it can integrate individuals without direct linkages. Nor is this all. Human primates alone have the ability to unite with others by virtue of an attachment to an external entity of any sort by entwining individuals into a symbolic and emotional field, even without ongoing face-to-face relations.


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