July 9, 2021
In this bonus episode, Wendy speaks with evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson. This episode is being released in conjunction with Mind & Life’s new film, Evolution of the Heart — a short documentary covering conversations between the Dalai Lama, David Sloan Wilson, and social scientist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela from a 2019 Mind & Life event in Dharamsala, India. The theme of that gathering was Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation. David’s work extends beyond genetics to include personal and cultural evolution, and sheds light on how we can move forward as a global community. In this conversation, they discuss many topics, including:
- the role of competition, cooperation, and prosocial behavior in human evolution;
- how evolutionary pressure operates at both individual and group levels (multilevel selection);
- the possibility of conscious evolution;
- what it means to be part of a group;
- expanding the notion of the self;
- becoming “bilingual” in scientific and spiritual perspectives;
- the need to create a system of ethics for the whole world;
- and core design principles for creating more egalitarian and compassionate communities.
David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He has made foundational contributions to Darwin’s theory of evolution by expanding the horizon of evolutionary thinking beyond genetic evolution to include all of the fast-paced changes taking place around us (cultural evolution) and within us (each individual as an evolving entity). David is co-founder and past president of The Evolution Institute, which works to apply science-based solutions and use evidence-based best practices to solve pressing social issues to improve quality of life. He is also co-founder and current president of Prosocial World, a non-profit organization that seeks to “consciously evolve a world that works for all.” Inspired by scientists, it bases its methods on the most recent developments in evolutionary, complex systems, and contextual behavioral science to enhance cooperation and inspire positive change for the well-being of others.
David’s books include Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives, and The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time and Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others.
- Documentary with the Dalai Lama: Evolution of the Heart
- Books: This View of Life and many others
- Podcast with Jim Coan on Circle of Willis