Nothing in Chomsky's account acknowledges the difference between intending to kill a child, because of the effect you hope to produce on its parents (we call this “terrorism”), and inadvertently killing a child in an attempt to capture or kill an avowed child murderer (we call this “collateral damage”). In both cases a child has died, and in both cases it is a tragedy. But the ethical status of the perpetrators, be they individuals or states, could not be more distinct For Chomsky, intentions do not seem to matter. Body count is all.
Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
Much more than our other needs and endeavors, it is sexuality that puts us on an even footing with our kind: the more we practice it, the more we become like everyone else: it is in the performance of a reputedly bestial function that we prove our status as citizens: nothing is more public than the sexual act.
If our need for status is fundamental, this discomfort we feel about admitting it may seem surprising. But we tend to believe the brain’s heroic story, not the subconscious realpolitik of the game. To admit to being motivated by improving our rank risks making others think less of us, which loses us rank. Even admitting it to ourselves can make us feel reduced. So our awareness of our desire for status eats itself. We readily recognise it in rivals and even use it as a method of insult – which, ironically, is status play: an attempt to downgrade others and thereby raise ourselves up.