Second Nature Home > Short Essays by Dan Bruiger >

Genetic Versus Somatic Interest

The interests of the individual organism coincide generally with those of the body, while the rules of the game are dictated by the interests of the genes. The interests of the individual human personality, however, are potentially independent of both. Humans suffer in awareness of their situation, therefore, to the degree that their actual purposes, visions, life plans, values, goals, actions, and experiences are at odds with the system of nature, thwarted by the body, or determined by forces outside themselves. From the point of view of the self-aware consciousness trapped within it, the system of nature is a mad machine, a kafkaesque bureaucracy without concern for individual welfare or happiness—except as that happens to favor success of the genes the individual harbors. Commitment to the game means obeying the dictates of genes. Besides the compulsion to eat fellow creatures, this commitment requires beating others of one’s kind in competition for mates and for the resources necessary to attract them and insure successful progeny. This implies further aggression and brutality, as well as a narrow organization of one’s interests, time and energies.

RELATED TAGS: [genetic/somatic interest, human condition, suffering and self-awareness, system of nature, against/struggle with nature, indifference of nature, genetic success/fitness/prison, dictatorial genes, dictatorship of the genes, horror of embodiment/nature]

© Copyright Dan Bruiger 2008. All rights reserved.