An exploration of the balance between collaboration, and competition in human relations.
I was recently researching some of the writings of Ira Byock. an American physician, author, and advocate for palliative care. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medical caregiving approach aimed at optimizing the quality of life and mitigating suffering among people with serious, complex illness. The purpose of this approach is to improve the quality of individual experience in challenges with these types of illnesses.
In one of his articles, Byock was discussing the concept of culture and quoted anthropologist Margaret Mead.
This is the story he presents.
“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones. ‘But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.
A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery.’
As much as I like this story I do not agree with Dr. Mead’s idea of where culture begins.
In my own experience, it all begins with Robert Ardrey’s idea that culture begins with defining and claiming territory.
Here we have an administrative division, usually an area that is under the control of some group or tribal hierarchy. It is here where a person decides that another human being is part of a shared territory and feels a responsibility to take care of that person.
Byock’s point in using the Mead quote was to promote her idea that helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts. Byock adds, ‘We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.’
Whether I agree with Dr. Mead or not, the idea of caring and sharing for others is clearly a sound one.
This story was created from my seminar notes for Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. To follow all of my longer, Great Game Theory Guide postings and stories, check out the full Table of Contents at:
This posting is taken from a seminar I taught on applied game theory. Game theory has won numerous Nobel Prizes including the 2020 prize in Economics.
If you have an interest in learning more about applied game theory you can begin with this short introduction to the basics of game theory. Below is an article (a 6-minute read) as well as a more in-depth video embedded in the article. Both were created so they would be understood by 12-year-old.
Using all of the gaming skills you have learned from the sandbox, through Rubick’s Cube, and now into video games and sports will change your life in every way, for the better.
The Article: Click on the title ‘the Best Introduction…’ just below.
If you are still a bit confused about how to apply game theory in your daily life watch the 15-minute video interview with me below, Just click on the URL.
We also offer a course in Applied Game Theory.
Click on this URL link below and explore the course.