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425. Mathematics & Cooperation As the Keys to Evolution with Martin Nowak

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Manage episode 420067991 series 3305636
Kandungan disediakan oleh Greg La Blanc. Semua kandungan podcast termasuk episod, grafik dan perihalan podcast dimuat naik dan disediakan terus oleh Greg La Blanc atau rakan kongsi platform podcast mereka. Jika anda percaya seseorang menggunakan karya berhak cipta anda tanpa kebenaran anda, anda boleh mengikuti proses yang digariskan di sini https://ms.player.fm/legal.

While Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is still the most widely accepted, it may be missing a key component: cooperation. And how can mathematical equations help us understand this fundamental piece of evolutionary biology?

Martin Nowak is a professor of mathematics and biology at Harvard University. His books like, Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life and SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed use the intersection of mathematics and biology to delve deeper into our understanding of evolution theory. His latest book, Beyond, is an exploration of how mathematics and religion are intertwined.

Martin and Greg discuss the five mechanisms of cooperation including direct and indirect reciprocity, how game theory evolved from economics as a way to explain strategic decisions of humans, and the role of religion and spirituality in promoting cooperative norms.

*unSILOed Podcast is produced by University FM.*

Episode Quotes:

To what extent is punishment necessary to keep cooperation going?

27:38: ​​Punishment, if you really think about it, is a terrible idea. Because, in most cases, punishment is not done for any noble reason. In most cases, punishment is just an act of violence. And every well-ordered society absolutely wants to make sure that people don't take the law into their own hands — that they just don't punish others. This is, for me, the principle of a functioning society: that we do not punish each other. So, for me, cooperation often means to refrain from punishment. And punishment is a very dangerous weapon. And I think many people have actually understood that critique — that punishment between individuals is a bad idea. And then they are still out there to say that it could be more useful if punishment is done by institutions. But also here, I'm very cautious. Because institutions are also not necessarily the best players all the time. They are the powerful players, and they could also use it inappropriately. So, I think that punishment is extremely problematic.

Does mathematics lead us to God?

43:47: It is not true that science explains everything. And now you should pause and ask yourself, so there is something which is independent of science, which is deep truth, which is absolute truth, which is unchanging truth. Where does that live? You know, where is that actually, if it's not in the atoms, if it's not in this, in the material world? So, this leads us to mathematical platonism. So, for me, mathematics is a step toward spirituality. It's a step toward the divine, as you say. And so, does mathematics lead us to God? Yes. The answer is yes, in my opinion, because it leads to a platonic heaven. And that is already the step of God. Does biology lead to God? Yes. Also because, in biology, the best understanding of evolution is mathematical. And so again, you need mathematics in order to understand evolution.

What is the mechanism of direct reciprocity?

15:12: The idea here is that, yes, interactions are repeated, but not necessarily between the same two people. So, I might help somebody who is a complete stranger. Or, in my class, I often talk about the New York subway hero, this brave man who saved another person who fell in front of the train. And, sort of, this isn't really the beginning of a long, repeated game. So, the question is, why do we have this instinct that we want to help? Even if it is with somebody we don't know, presumably a direct interaction is unlikely. And here, the proposal is that this works because of reputation. So, you help somebody, and that gets you the reputation of a valuable member, which is a person who receives help. Or, you refuse help to somebody, and that then will earn you other refusals in the future.

Transcending the ego to unveil the nameless self

50:05: Once you start to love the divine, you treat people differently; it becomes embracing. And so, if you also start to learn the difference between the ego and the self, there's this shell, and we are enslaved by the shell. And this shell has a name. And that name—we want to make that name famous. Then, we are sad if other people are against us. But inside us, there is the self. And the self is nameless, and the self is untouchable. The self can only be touched by us, not by others

Show Links:

Recommended Resources:

Guest Profile:

His Work:

  continue reading

416 episod

Artwork
iconKongsi
 
Manage episode 420067991 series 3305636
Kandungan disediakan oleh Greg La Blanc. Semua kandungan podcast termasuk episod, grafik dan perihalan podcast dimuat naik dan disediakan terus oleh Greg La Blanc atau rakan kongsi platform podcast mereka. Jika anda percaya seseorang menggunakan karya berhak cipta anda tanpa kebenaran anda, anda boleh mengikuti proses yang digariskan di sini https://ms.player.fm/legal.

While Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is still the most widely accepted, it may be missing a key component: cooperation. And how can mathematical equations help us understand this fundamental piece of evolutionary biology?

Martin Nowak is a professor of mathematics and biology at Harvard University. His books like, Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life and SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed use the intersection of mathematics and biology to delve deeper into our understanding of evolution theory. His latest book, Beyond, is an exploration of how mathematics and religion are intertwined.

Martin and Greg discuss the five mechanisms of cooperation including direct and indirect reciprocity, how game theory evolved from economics as a way to explain strategic decisions of humans, and the role of religion and spirituality in promoting cooperative norms.

*unSILOed Podcast is produced by University FM.*

Episode Quotes:

To what extent is punishment necessary to keep cooperation going?

27:38: ​​Punishment, if you really think about it, is a terrible idea. Because, in most cases, punishment is not done for any noble reason. In most cases, punishment is just an act of violence. And every well-ordered society absolutely wants to make sure that people don't take the law into their own hands — that they just don't punish others. This is, for me, the principle of a functioning society: that we do not punish each other. So, for me, cooperation often means to refrain from punishment. And punishment is a very dangerous weapon. And I think many people have actually understood that critique — that punishment between individuals is a bad idea. And then they are still out there to say that it could be more useful if punishment is done by institutions. But also here, I'm very cautious. Because institutions are also not necessarily the best players all the time. They are the powerful players, and they could also use it inappropriately. So, I think that punishment is extremely problematic.

Does mathematics lead us to God?

43:47: It is not true that science explains everything. And now you should pause and ask yourself, so there is something which is independent of science, which is deep truth, which is absolute truth, which is unchanging truth. Where does that live? You know, where is that actually, if it's not in the atoms, if it's not in this, in the material world? So, this leads us to mathematical platonism. So, for me, mathematics is a step toward spirituality. It's a step toward the divine, as you say. And so, does mathematics lead us to God? Yes. The answer is yes, in my opinion, because it leads to a platonic heaven. And that is already the step of God. Does biology lead to God? Yes. Also because, in biology, the best understanding of evolution is mathematical. And so again, you need mathematics in order to understand evolution.

What is the mechanism of direct reciprocity?

15:12: The idea here is that, yes, interactions are repeated, but not necessarily between the same two people. So, I might help somebody who is a complete stranger. Or, in my class, I often talk about the New York subway hero, this brave man who saved another person who fell in front of the train. And, sort of, this isn't really the beginning of a long, repeated game. So, the question is, why do we have this instinct that we want to help? Even if it is with somebody we don't know, presumably a direct interaction is unlikely. And here, the proposal is that this works because of reputation. So, you help somebody, and that gets you the reputation of a valuable member, which is a person who receives help. Or, you refuse help to somebody, and that then will earn you other refusals in the future.

Transcending the ego to unveil the nameless self

50:05: Once you start to love the divine, you treat people differently; it becomes embracing. And so, if you also start to learn the difference between the ego and the self, there's this shell, and we are enslaved by the shell. And this shell has a name. And that name—we want to make that name famous. Then, we are sad if other people are against us. But inside us, there is the self. And the self is nameless, and the self is untouchable. The self can only be touched by us, not by others

Show Links:

Recommended Resources:

Guest Profile:

His Work:

  continue reading

416 episod

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