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“Sympathy is our strongest instinct, stronger than self-preservation.” –Charles Darwin


Surprising words from the father of “survival of the fittest?” The quick assumption is that superior cognitive, hunting, creative, or communication abilities are more valuable instincts for breeding the stronger or “fittest” species.

Yet out of any species, human babies are the most vulnerable, dependent, and most ill-adapted to self-care at birth.

To compensate for this weakness, humans built elaborate cooperative caretaking structures. But we haven’t evolved away from this system.

In this five-minute excerpt clip from Dacher Keltner, of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, talks about the evolutionary roots of compassion and how it takes human babies “between 7 and 49 years to reach independence.”