the proximal ones and the distal ones

the proximal ones and the distal ones

When we try to explain why we do what we do, why we like what we like, we usually use proximate explanations. For instance. Because like? Because I’m hungry. That is a forthcoming explanation. Why am I writing a book? Because I like to express my thoughts to others. Another upcoming explanation.

In general, the upcoming explanations have to do with explanations that take into account culture, learning, parenting, hormones, the brain, or a combination of all of these.


Ultimate or distal explanations

But there are other types of explanations, which, although they do not replace the next ones, allow us to add another layer of understanding: the final or distal explanations. These kinds of explanations take into account, for example, evolutionary psychology.

For instance, Why do I like fat and sugar better? Because in the past there was a shortage of food and those who had a predilection for fats and sugars, which were foods with the highest caloric density, were the ones that reproduced the most, genetically bequeathing their predilection for this kind of food.

Now there is no shortage of food, in the supermarket we can buy anything, but this predilection for foods that are more dense at a caloric level pose a problem: nothing less than an epidemic of obsedity in all rich countries.

If we apply the last or distal layer of explanation to the reason that we are attracted to beauty, we will discover that, in reality, it is very much like the reason that we are attracted to intelligence. That is, both preferences come from the same place: find the best partner to swap DNA segments. You can expand on all this in the following video:

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