Australopithecine birth and midwifery

RDehaan237 (
Sat, 4 Apr 1998 07:21:17 EST

In a message dated 4/3/98 7:21:34 AM, (Glenn Morton)

<<From an evolutionary perspective one might make a case that there
is selective pressure for social cooperation because it makes death less
likely. >>

Hi Glenn. Good to see you back on line again. By "social cooperation", I
gather you mean midwifery? If so, why do you need an evolutionary perspective
to explain it? If you pose an evolutionary perspective, aren't you obliged to
provide a genetic basis for the behavior of midwifery (or any other social
cooperation) which can be modified by mutations, the phenotypes produced
thereby being selected for their survival or adaptive value? Or are you using
the term evolution in some undefined sense? It seems to me that any genetic
basis for midwifery, if it exists, is far too complex to have originated by
genetic mutations, then selected, and passed on by inheritance, as it must be
if it is evolutionary in origin. Is there any genealogical data for
midwifery? Is it inherited; does it run in families?

I suggest that a simpler explanation is that midwifery involves a process of
social learning, passed on from generation to generation by imitation,
apprenticeship, mentoring; and originating in the empathy of one woman for
another regarding the process of birthing, of bringing new life into being,
which I can only imagine must be a strong, elemental motivational feeling.

Theologically, I would relate midwifery ultimately, I mean as far back as you
can go, to the image of God in humans. Why? Because it requires imagination
and memory, the ability of one woman to imagine or remember what it is like
for another to bear a child. Imagination and memory are among the highest
mental functions, the ability to transcend the here and now, one's own
existential situation, and to enter into that of another.