We have come to realize, as a normative goal, that social hope is our common bond – the dilution of differences that divide and harm us. The path of human progress is frail; with glimmers of hope, the eternal seduction, the stoic nobility exists amidst the diffidence and difficulties in preserving a broad social compass in which many reach forms of meaningful human happiness rich in existential sensibility.
However, there is no panacea; the idea of progress that infused Darwin's conception of evolution and Jackson's and Spencer's conception of the nervous system has been modified. Corticalization of function does not necessarily mean social advance. Devolution of function is as paramount as times of war and crisis.
Prosocial sensibilities figure importantly and are a constant across cultures, but they compete with diverse motivations. Variation in expression is a constant, but social contact is also a factor across all cultures, and the formation of habits sets the conditions for meaningful lasting social contact (Jaspers, 1913/1997).
EVOLUTION AND ADAPTATION
At one fundamental level, little has changed: we search for the stable amidst the precarious (Dewey, 1925/1989). The search requires diverse cephalic and cultural resources, and results in punctuated and gradual cultural epicenters. The human condition remains more precarious, our weapons that much more dangerous, and the level of potential destruction that much greater. The precarious shifts towards the more stable by cephalic adaptation.