The Circle of Competition and Cooperation

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Photo credits: http://victorenglebertphotography.blogspot.com

The works of Bateson and JL Molina seem to share some similarities in the fact that they share an anthropological view on competition and the importance of cooperation as well as some theoretical references. However, they seem to make drastically different conclusions.

Bateson suggests a model of cooperation in her commentary ‘The Myths of Independence and Competition’ through references to Darwin’s theory of evolution suggesting that human beings are biologically dependent on each other, which I do not wholly agree with, as one can argue that competitiveness has been harboured through human evolution as well, which is a point I wish to address with JL Molina’s ‘Cooperation and competition in social anthropology’ as well. Although Molina does not suggest that cooperation is the only manner of focus in society, as seen through the article’s references to competition in society as well and its overall conclusion encouraging further research between cooperation and competition as two correlated dimensions as compared to opposites. However , the examples given are those of various societies like the hunter-gatherers, peasants and tribes. Although in depth views on how ‘regulation of competition’ is addressed in these groups, disagreements can be made for the same as although hunter-gatherers were cooperative, they competed at a much larger scale in the battle for survival, so one might say that although cooperation was much needed, the fundamental reason would be competition with other hunter-gatherers when it came to hunting a common food source, which they combated through strength in numbers. So although I can agree with the point of the correlation between cooperation and competition, the fostering of cooperation may often only be due to competition, however competition need not be fostered by cooperation. Coming to the viewpoint of the peasants, Molina mentions there is competition, however there is no motivation to the point of annihilation. This is easily argued with as even today, there are large scale disputes between farmers over land which many a times have lead to one farmer murdering or seriously maiming another, sometimes even a relative killing another. (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/relatives-kill-farmer-over-land-dispute-in-sankheda/articleshow/64640245.cms) So although there seems to be a correlation between competition and correlation, I wouldn’t say that any society is completely garnered through cooperation as the human nature of selfishness and greed would at some point foster unhealthy competition in situations where it would otherwise be unnecessary.

Coming to the paper itself, the use of the kin- selection theory was interesting as the assumption that cooperation is linked to humans at a genetic point was intriguing because of the fact that although genes and altruism are highly linked (as seen through the references to the grandma hypothesis), I couldn’t help but wonder, wouldn’t someones genetic predisposition be subjective too? The possibility that even through genetics one might be disenchanted by the thought of cooperation be possible as well?

Despite all these possibilities, the mentioning of various theories and empirical evidence throughout the paper as well as the clear goal, despite a few points that could be argued with, in my opinion, Molina’s articulation and goal was much better achieved than that of Bateson, as it provided empirical evidence like Werron as well and has established a clear point of relation between cooperation and competition to a point that they should be looked as related dimensions as compared to unrelated opposites.

##ASTU #Competition #Molina

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