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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust3a: A Leap of Trust ...

For starters let's make it clear that in exploring trust I talk of a Giver and a Receiver. In a normal  relationship, these roles are alternating. Sometimes you give trust, sometimes you receive it.

When the Receiver is present, or at least communicating or 'delivering' [sounds horrible, but OK] ,trust can be reinforced easily. Especially when both parties prove to be trustworthy whenever they play the role of receiver. Their mutual trust will grow stronger and stronger, like becoming a diamond.

What happens in a relationship where there is little or no physical presence or communication? To name some very different situations:
- Trusting in a person who works far away from home and who cannot communicatie often?
- Trusting ... in your own life's fulfillment, your own worthiness, your ... name it. Your future being the thing that you believe in.
- Trusting in a God

That's where Trust has to be like Blind Faith. I'm not the only one who sees faith like that: from Collins reverso online dictionary: 
FAITH: strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp. without proof or evidence.
Faith is a leap in the dark. Or, if your belief IS unshakeable , a leap into a cloudy world? A walk on water.

What lacks is the feedback, the reinforcement. You don't rely on the others for current feedback, you rely on your previous experience with the other, counting on her constancy. Or on your own worthiness, being worth the loyalty of the other. -Yes: high self esteem is handy, even in faith.-

Now where have I heard about feedback mechanisms and reinforcement before?  I remember! During my study. I have studied medical biology and population biology (application of evolutionary models on plant or animal populations). Both disciplines work with models in which feedback is crucial for finetuning. Starting something is easy, but how do you make the action, the release of energy,  fit to its original prompt? By taking in the new signals from the one who gave uttered your cue... after you started your action.  With a positvie reaction, a stimulus, you continu what you were doing.  After a negative, inhibiting, message you'll decrease your activity, or cease it all together.

But how does one keep on having faith? There is no feedback to determine the wisdom of what you're undertaking... (or is taking under?). Without finetuning feedback it might stop or run out of hand?
Yet it exists and doesn't always cease or go out of control.


Trust can be fitted nicely in a biological model, whereas faith does not. This reminds me of a parallel that I ran into, when I was a student. The statement, the assumption: “Altruism does not exist.”
Or at least, altruism defined as “unselfish concern for the welfare of others” does not exist.

In evolutionary models the individual with the most fit genes [best adapted to its environment] gets the highest number of healthy, reproducing, desendants. Over the course of time, this genetic variant becomes the dominant fenotype [the outer form by which we recognise a species] within a population. This process is called selection.
Behaviour, which also has a genetic base, is under the same selective pressure. The female grasshopper that eats her mate after copulation, builds up reserves to produce strong healthy eggs. This increases the chances of survival of the offspring. Any male that 'sacrifices' himself, will have more offspring than the quick men* that escape from being the 'bridal cake'. Serving as a meal is not altruism, it is fitness!

Pure altruism does not fit into this model, hence biologists deny its existence. Altruism in biology is often reserved for kin selection: behaviour that at first glance may seem altruistic, since there is no clear relation to the survival of one's own direct descendants.
Helpful behaviour, from a natural selection viewpoint, should lead to survival of the own gene-variant.  (Genes are 'selfish'). Helping your children (50% of your own genes) is not altruistic behaviour, its selfishness of the genes. But your nieces and nephews still have a 25% share of your genes.  So do your grandchildren... helping them is not altruism either. That's what Haldane meant when he said  "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins". It is the kin selection theory.
I'm not behaving altruistic if I give food and clothes to my nephews or maybe one day to my grandchildren.

It is altruisim, when I walk out of the front door doubled up, so I won't harm the spider's web that occupies half the doorway. Altruism does exist, but it has no place in biological models.


As it happens we, living creatures, are not just machines, functioning as described by some flow chart. We are bodies immersed with a soul. Or, as I feel at times, a soul stuck in a rather crummy body. (Not the one I would have picked myself).

Our bodies are subject to natural laws, including those of natural selection, and our behaviour is influenced by that. If you feel threatened you either flee or fight, to make your genes survive and give them a chance to propagate. That is behaviour at the animal level: a primitive, selfish way of coping with difficult situations. No one will blame you for that.
But if you feel threatened and look at your adversary with a forgiving look, trying to find out what makes him behave like that, wanting to help him, your behaviour rises above the animal level: you become altruistic. Not fleeing or fighting, but helping. At your own risk, pure altruism.
At such a moment your behaviour has reached a higher, spiritual, level.
This level is not acknowledged in academic, biological circles. That doesn't mean it's not there. Have faith in me!

-to be continued ….

*Finally, I have proven that physical fitness does not guarantee fitness for life! Away with all fitness machines and workouts ...

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