Gno(n)sis III: Conflict

I’ve talked about how Life is created and sustained. So, how living beings interact with each other?

The first thing to notice is that living beings consume resources to sustain themselves and reproduce. And because resources are scarce, a situation of conflict arises between different living beings.

Take groups A and B. A and B can be any kind of collection of living beings with the ability to reproduce themselves, from species to nuclear families.

A and B live in the same environment, which produces a limited amount of resources (and even in the case of unlimited resources, there is a limited amount of space).
At first, the two expand until they bump into each other. Then, conflict arises, because the new land that A has found, which would allow them to expand further, is occupied by B.

What will happen? Well, it depends on the relative characteristics of the two species in relation to one another. In each case, I will speculate on the most likely outcome based on self-preservation.

Case 1: One is stronger than the other (say, A is stronger than B)
This is generally the case with different species.

Case 1.1: Both compete for land and resources
A will squish B and take over their land. B dies out from lack of resources.

Case 1.2; Both compete for land but not for resources (they don’t eat the same things)
A will try to eat B. If B is inedible, see case 1. If B is edible for A, A will hunt B. This is the case of the food chain (carnivores eating herbivores eating plants)

Case 1.2.1: A has complex intelligence
A will domesticate B, since hunting B to extinction would be detrimental to both (B is exterminated and A loses a food source). This is the case with humans domesticating cattle.

Case 1.2.2: B has absolute or comparative advantages over A, and there is a certain level of compatibility between the two
A will assmilate B. This is the case with eukaryote cells assimilating mithochondria to produce energy for them, or fungi assimilating algae to feed them (creating lichens). In that case, B feeds A, and A guarantees B’s reproduction.
One could also draw parallels with the social stratification of human society, but let’s save it for another day.

Case 2: Both are comparable in strength
This is generally the case with groups within the same species.

Case 2.1: Both have absolute or comparative advantages over the other, and there is a certain level of compatibility between the two
If A marginally benefits more by trading with B than by taking over B’s land and vice-versa, an equilibrium is reached. In human relations this equilibrium is called peace.

Case 2.2: The pursuit of A’s interests is detrimental to B or vice-versa
Both groups will go to war until the costs of war in both groups exceed the benefits of taking over the other’s land, ponderated by the chance of success. In that case, an armistice is signed, which lasts until the conditions change. An armistice doesn’t end war, it merely punctuates it, and wars in this case only end with the complete wipeout of the enemy.


To tie back with the previous post, where do Gnon and Order fit in all of this?

I think that conflict is the result of an arrangement that does not befit Order, and therefore Gnon sows the seeds of conflict by giving incentives to agents to break it. That conflict reshuffles everyone’s positions, and doesn’t end until a stable equilibrium is reached, an orderly one. Until a significant enough variable change creates instability again, because life is in constant change, making conflict an inherent part of it.

Anyway, what to remember from all of this?
If you want to make it, you have three options: be the strongest, bend the knee to someone else, or make a strong friend happy.


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