Charles Darwin observed in humans a "capacity for bonding, cooperation and altruism" that he viewed as "an essential factor in our successful evolution." His seminal survival-of-the-fittest research and writing referred not just [to] survival of the biggest, strongest, and most aggressive, but also survival of those [...] most capable of forming mutually-protective, mutually-supportive relationships. However, the latter dimension of his research is lesser known to general audiences.
I start teaching a Mediation Skills class at Seattle University Law School today, which means that I have been reading my mediation textbooks a lot lately. In the introduction to one of the books that are assigned for the class, former SU Law Professor Melinda Branscomb quotes Charles Darwin:
We tend to emphasize and define success as survival of the strongest and most aggressive - in business, law, and many other aspects of our social interactions - while neglecting our species' particular aptitude for cooperation and collaboration. In both my teaching and my mediation practice, I hope to demonstrate that a cooperative problem-solving approach can lead to better communication and greater understanding, as well as to more powerful and more durable agreements.
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