Biology, Evolution, and Love

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  • Post published:February 19, 2021
  • Reading time:2 mins read
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I watched “My Octopus Teacher” last night. It was so moving.

John Bowlby theorized that Humans like other primates and mammals seek out proximity to the mother for evolutionary reasons, namely to seek safety. This makes perfect sense. You can build a theory of love, connection, and affection solely on the basis of the evolutionary benefits of proximity explained by attachment theory.

In the film, Craig Foster the main protagonist, states that the highlighted kind of octopus has no relationship with mother or father. They are solitary creatures. The only contact with other life is either hunting or reproducing – a one time occurrence. So, from an evolutionary lens, there seems to be no need for the octopus to have attachment or the related behaviors of affection, love, kindness, or even interest in other life forms.
However, the octopus and Craig develop a relationship! The octopus seems genuinely to be affectionate towards Craig. Pause and let that sink in.
Based on this apparent affection of the octopus towards Craig, it seems clear that love is something even more primary and inherent to life beyond the mere biological imperatives for survival that serve as sufficient to explain attachment behaviors’ origins.
The love of life towards life seems somehow primary and before the fact. This struck me as a mystical insight.

It was so moving. It brought up the allusions from the advaita traditions of “life recognizing life”, of seeing how there is no difference between us other than the simple perception that there is difference.

The film brought up a sweet compassion and appreciation for the vulnerability of all of sentient life.

Two Advaita swans

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