How does friendliness look as a long term strategy when uncooperative individuals can have so much impact? (it only takes one Julius Cesar to burn down the library of Alexandria, and it only takes one person ignoring restrictions to infect a new city)
Wouldn't evolutionary benefits only apply to social animals, and not necessarily to kind/friendly animals? - and doesn't the formation of tight-knit social groups only lead to larger conflicts between groups instead of individuals?
Excuse me for answering this but I wrote a couple (one a threw out 'cause bad sourcing wowee) papers on this subject, or something somewhat related to it: why do we have a need for warfare? Why would warfare be logical as an option for survival if it means killing a group?
Asocial behavior is punished; the gene pool is then no longer being supplied by them. Extremely asocial behavior does not reproduce, it tends to die. Individual acts of asocial behavior are nearly always outliers. Yes, an outlier can cause damage, but the temple of Alexandria only harmed our overall knowledge, not our ability to survive. It is not 'much damage'- note that the burning of Alexandria was a drop in the pool of disasters, and far more was happening in the world, especially in the east, than that.
This is all essentially evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology is a very
touchy field; it is related to eugenics, horrors, etc. Bad people. But understanding how our ideas came to be so commonplace is important. Sadly, it is misused by bigots.
I have to mention this because it can be taken the wrong way.
In any case, there are some strong arguments for why there were not larger conflicts until later on in human development. And yes, there were conflicts- and today in less developed nations there is an incredibly high rate of 'conflict' or bush warfare, reaching into the 90% chance per year for every village/tribe in those regions. The common explanation is 'for mates', but that is rather chauvinistic lobbying.
Consider there are two tribes of moderate size on an island. The island is large enough for them both. It is covered in dense jungle; they have tools, but not chainsaws. Clearing a section of the jungle is not a matter of manpower, but of the work of an entire generation. That generation will not see the fruits of their labor; they do it for their children's survival.
Consider the two tribes coexisted peacefully until they realize they are starting to run out of potable water, arable land, or resources in general- or simply they keep bumping into one another on patrols and causing shouting fights.
Paradoxically, the group which is most aggressive but also the most inclusive and tightknit wins this, as they will be the aggressors and decide that the time it takes to work land is not worth the time it takes to, say, take over their land. When your people are hungry, sometimes there is no other choice- you are doing an act of selflessness towards your family, but it is directed at an outgroup.
By then succeeding, the penchant for violence is potentially passed on, and especially the skill for organization, hunting, and tactical decision making ahead of time (presceint thought, sapient thought)
Survival of the fittest is a misnomer, and makes the implication of 'superior'. It is not survival of the strongest.
It is survival of the most appropriately adapted to its conflicted position. When it becomes a survival issue in not bashing in your neighbor's skull, being friendlier is naturally being nicer; the rest of your neighbors will come after you, next.
In war, we act this out in a very grandiose way- there is always a small belief that your actions are somehow protecting your family and people. Genghis Khan is the outlier of the outliers.
We are social animals, by the way.
Is wanting to build community instinctual or is it something we are taught?
Instinctual. Children do not see things like differences as quickly as we do; they make social groups independent of bias.
Racism is taught. As is classism, etc.