• Question: When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings? Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution, surely?

    Asked by ashleighlou to Betul, Bridget, Ceri-Wyn, Maria on 26 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Bridget Waller

      Bridget Waller answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      Great question! Why do you think that they wouldn’t evolve? I’m tumbling over myself to answer this one – this is exactly what I think about all day…

      Firstly, other animals seem to have emotions too, so they might have evolved a very long time ago – possibly even very old and primitive animals had some sort of positive or negative reactions to the world. More complex emotions like love, mercy and guilt might be much more recent, and possibly unique to humans. If so, they must have a purpose and have been selected for. They probably all have functions to help us interact with each other. Living in groups is difficult, and if we don’t know how each other is feeling it is even more diffiuclt not to make mistakes! So I think we use these emotions to help us communicate, and understand each other.

    • Photo: Ceri-Wyn Thomas

      Ceri-Wyn Thomas answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      Yes these emotions are the result of evolution! We are entirely the result of evolution!! Many other primates and indeed many other mammals feel these complex emotions too. the more we research animal behavior the more we realise that we are not so different from other animals! Humans are a very social species like dolphins, elephants and chimps etc. Evolving the ability to feel emotions like love and altruism promotes strong social bonds, amazing parental care, the ability to transfer information, the ability to feel pleasure and protect one another and these are all fantastic adaptations to living in a highly social environment. A group of social animals that did not evolve the ability to feel emotions and express them would probably fare less well. Emotions are an adaptation that have evolved in the same way all our other adaptations have evolved!