Cooperation

From From the Trees to the Stars

We tend to think of cooperation as a nice concept that we teach children about in kindergarten.

It's a lofty social ideal to strive towards, but one we consider ourselves fundamentally incapable of achieving.

But cooperation isn't a human invention.

Cooperation is the manifestation in living things of a tendency so fundamental that we see it on every scale of the universe that we're able to perceive: from the subatomic to the intergalactic.

When we say that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" we are describing the same concept.

Only in the purely abstract realm of numbers do one and one make two. In all real world situations, when two things are combined, the resulting thing has characteristics that are different from its constituents.

Cooperation is the force by which complexity emerges from simplicity.

Cooperation is not the opposite of competition. Cooperation allows groups of atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, people to participate in higher order competitions.

In humans, cooperation is facilitated by empathy and language but hindered by free will and selfishness.