Society versus the individual in animal evolution

  • V. C. Wynne-Edwards


We were taught in our earliest childhood that we ought to respect the rights and feelings of others. By the same token, the oldest code of human morals that has come down to us, the Ten Commandments of Moses, is chiefly concerned with obligations that are to be observed between people. Only the first three commandments relate to something different, enjoining reverence for the deity. The last seven all have to do with proper relationships between individuals in society; keeping holy the sabbath day the same as everybody else, honouring one’s father and mother, doing no murder, not committing adultery, not stealing nor bearing false witness nor coveting one’s neighbour’s possessions. To make the rules simple, Moses picked out a few particular obligations for mention, and many others, scarcely less important, are covered by the broader social virtues of being generous, temperate, just, honest, dutiful and brave.


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