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Cooperation is the process of groups of organisms working or acting together for their common/mutual benefit, as opposed to working in competition for selfish benefit. Many animal and plant species cooperate both with other members of their own species and with members of other species (symbiosis or mutualism). Language allows humans to cooperate on a very large scale.


  • Widely dispersed knowledge concerning the important role of basic cooperative processes among living beings may lead to the acceptance of cooperation as a guiding principle both in social theory and as a basis for human behavior. Such a development when it occurs will alter the course of human history.
    • W. C. Allee, Cooperation among Animals with Human Implications (1951), page 213 (cited in Lee Alan Dugatkin, "The Altruism Equation" (2006), p. 58).
  • I watched on TV when America sent men to the moon, and there were a lot of people whose names weren't given who helped make it possible. You don't have the names of those who run the computers and other things. But they worked together and this is what you have to have ... Chinese, American, Jewish, black and white, people working side by side. [...] We must all live together and work together no matter what race or nationality. If you have an opportunity to accomplish something that will make things better for someone coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.
    • Roberto Clemente, from his Tris Speaker Memorial Award acceptance speech, January 29, 1971, including both the bolded excerpt seen here and a lesser-known version of his famous "wasting your time on this earth" warning ; as quoted, respectively, in "800 Turn Out for Baseball Dinner" by Joe Heiling, in The Houston Post (January 30, 1971), p. 1-B, and "Standing Cheer for Roberto" by Houston Chronicle sportswriter John Wilson, in The Sporting News (February 20, 1971), p. 44
To access the other version, see Achievement.
  • In previous ages a nation's life and culture could be protected to some extent by the growth of armies in national competition. Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster.
    • Albert Einstein; reported in Michael Amrine, "The Real Problem is in the Hearts of Man", New York Times Magazine (23 June 1946).
  • It is evident that many great and useful objects can be attained in this world only by co-operation. It is equally evident that there cannot be efficient cooperation if men proceed on the principle that they must not cooperate for one object unless they agree about other objects.
  • All social cooperation on a larger scale than the most intimate social group requires a measure of coercion.
    • Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics 1932.
  • Cooperation is difficult in the absence of communication.
    • Joseph Nye, Understanding International Conflicts - An Introduction to Theory and History (Sixth Edition), Chapter 1, Is There an Enduring Logic of Conflict in World Politics?, p. 16.
  • Cooperation is an evolutionary riddle, as it defies the basic principles of natural selection. If during the course of evolution only the fittest survive, why should one sacrifice individual fitness for the benefit of unrelated others? Widespread cooperation in nature is indeed one of the most important challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. Understanding the evolution of cooperation means understanding also the main evolutionary transitions that led from single-cell organisms to complex animal and human societies, and it is therefore little surprising that the subject consistently attracts attention across large contingents of social and natural sciences.
    • Attila Szolnoki and Matjaz Perc, "Evolution of extortion in structured populations" (2014)

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