All content copyright © 2010-2019 Frank Revelo
Reductionist "beefsteak" philosophy, to the effect that humans have the same crude motivations as animals, such as the desire to eat beefsteaks instead of bread and water, and all human behavior can ultimately be explained by these crude motivations, is ultimately the most profound of explanations for human behavior. It is only an illusion that most humans are far removed from the level of animals and their primitive struggle for food. Part of this illusion is due to our technology, but most is due to the technique of bluffing. Fanatics who are willing to die for their religious beliefs, let's say, will always be able to intimidate supposedly more rational persons, and thus the war will be over before it even begins. The fanatics will live off the fat of the land, while the rationalists will become their slaves. Bluffing is not unique to humans, of course—animals do it all the time. Humans simply advanced the technique of bluffing far beyond the level of less intelligent animals. Bluffing is most effective when it is done sincerely—someone who pretends to be a fanatic will usually lose to someone who truly is a fanatic. And there is the ultimate explanation of why we evolved such a powerful spiritual nature.
Behavior typically follows inevitably given the realities of an animal's body and the surrounding environment. Given a human body, walking upright and using the hands to make tools for obtaining food is inevitable. Given a cat's body, hunting alone, by stalking and then attacking prey with a single jump, is inevitable. Given a dog's body, hunting in packs, working as a team to run prey into the ground and then attack from all sides, is inevitable. Configuration of body and soul is mostly determined by genes, while configuration of spirit is learned, but the learning is often inevitable, given the realities of the material world.
Higher social behaviors are also inevitable to some extent. All groups must benefit all members of the group, otherwise members would abandon the group (some humans and ants keep slaves, but this is impractical for most animals). All groups must allocate food unevenly, otherwise the strong would have no reason to allow the weak into their group. All groups will have a hierarchy, determined ultimately by strength, since it is wasteful to constantly constantly fight for food. And so on. It may take a human intelligence to articulate these inevitable rules of group behavior in language, but it takes very little intelligence to derive and practice these same principles via a process of trial-and-error.