our common humanity

In the book Blueprint, Nicholas Christakis identified a ‘social suite’ — a range of eight traits that are common among all human societies, though not always manifested in the same way — based on broad historical and anthropological research.

  1. Individual identity
  2. Family love
  3. In-group bias
  4. Friendship
  5. Cooperation
  6. Egalitarianism
  7. Social networks
  8. Social learning

A similar ethnographic study which examined ethics from 60 societies, across over 600 sources found seven universal rules of morality.

  1. Help your family
  2. Help your group
  3. Return favors
  4. Be brave
  5. Defer to superiors
  6. Divide resources fairly
  7. Respect others’ property

Compare these with the nine noble virtues of Nordic society.

  1. Courage
  2. Truth
  3. Honour
  4. Fidelity
  5. Discipline
  6. Hospitality
  7. Self-reliance
  8. Industriousness
  9. Perseverance

The social suite is the broadest of these lists, and is a good way to understand why we do certain things. The moral rules show how different societies have more in common than differences, when you look at core values. The Nordic (Viking) virtues demonstrate how timeless our sense of what is good can be. We are derived from the same DNA, a common history and ancestry, and very similar ways of looking at our world. Unfortunately, we are even better at finding minute differences and inflating them to be important distinctions. We share a common humanity, and any society, culture, government, or religion that says differently is not worthy of being called human.

Image: Tom Gauld


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