Anger – an Evolutionary Curse

Anger is an invention of the selfish gene, an evolutionary tool for the survival of the fittest.  Strength, fitness and anger – what better to equip the human genome to survive and prosper in the hideous brutality of nature.

Anger is an emotion, a subjective experience, a “quale” and something which any student of consciousness must by definition take an interest in.


I have noticed increasing anger and bitterness in myself over the past few years; it has become very noticeably expressed in my writing. But better “expressed” than “repressed”.

While it sometimes seems to me that my anger has external causes at a deeper level I know that it does not. I have no reason to be angry or bitter. Born into a prosperous, upper middle class British family and expensively educated by famous names I was given everything a child could expect.

And my inglorious career began at one of the City of London’s best known institutions and was continued at one of Basel’s.

And yet there was always anger. I like to think the anger was not and is not my fault and yet I know I must not shirk all responsibility.

As heart it’s mostly about nature and nurture but you certainly have some freedom to alter your own behaviour (unless you believe in strict determinism, which of course is not without its adherents).

Why does this post belong in “Science”? Because I am devoting much of my time to studying consciousness and have come to believe that humanity can and will be saved from brutality and misery by science and science alone. I want to be a part of that scientific endeavour, even if at a philosophical level only.

I know that anger and bitterness should be controlled; it is destructive and pointless in the modern age. It belongs to animals and cavemen.

If I could choose not to be angry I would.  And I believe one day that choice will be possible and easily achieved. In the meantime it requires steely self control and awareness and even then can only be partly contained in some of us.


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