We’ve evolved with a craving for sugar because as hungry and starved hunters and gathereres it helped us gobble food sources rich in energy whenever they were available (which wasn’t often). I like icecream – particularly the ones with the edible cone, because I’ve evolved to like it. Now, for the alleged saliva stopper question. I’ve evolved to enjoy sugar?! It’s not really my free will?! Oh man! Does that mean my enjoyment of icecream diminishes in some way because I’ve realized this evolutionary reason?
Well, I do know the evolutionary reason and I stil enjoy icecream. So, hell no. Knowing does not diminish enjoyment. Now that I know, I don’t need to finish all the icecream right away like an ancient clueless hunter-gatherer. I’ll moderate my consumption and enjoy the icecream for many more days.
Anyway, the icecream is just a prelude. Here’s the real deal. I was talking to Ramya about the question of parenting. Kids are a bundle of joy (and dirt). We’ve evolved to feel extremely satisfied when our kids do or say something nice and loveable. Does this evolutionary reason for our happiness diminish our joy in some way? Hell, no. We will still love our children.
Of course, the notion of happiness due to kids is debatable as Professor Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness would tell you. Nevertheless, the notion that scientific understanding would undermine the joy and happiness in our personal non-scientific life is at best ignorant of the fundamental causes for happiness. Dawkins has written beautifully on this subject in Unweaving the Rainbow. (I sort of borrowed the title for this post from his other book, Climbing Mount Improbable.)