Cooperation versus competition in nature and society: The contribution of Piotr Kropotkin to evolutionary theory

Urbano Fra Paleo

Abstract


[from the introduction]

Concepts usually have multiple lives, yet in their revival they occur in a changed context, due to the time passed or to their application within a different disciplinary approach. Mutual aid, in its contemporary avenues, seems to be one of them.

In 1902 Piotr Alekseevich Kropotkin published the seminal text Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, proposing the principle of mutual support both as a law of nature and a factor of evolution. The volume is, actually, a compilation of an earlier series of articles published in The Nineteenth Century from September 1890 to June 1896. The alleged motivation for writing was the publication in the same periodical in 1888 by Darwinist Thomas Henry Huxley of the opus Struggle for Existence and its Bearing upon Man. The emphasis placed by Huxley on translating struggle for life as competition to explain one of the three pillars of the theory of evolution—survival of the fittest—pushed Kropotkin to react. He not only was supporting his social theory but was also contributing the results obtained from his exploring expeditions.


Keywords


Evolution; Kropotkin; co-operation; competition; Darwin

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References


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