Auster has been on the rampage against evolutionary psychology, lately. Most recently, under the title "The Barrenness of Darwinism", he quotes with approval Carol Iannone's question, "When Thomas Edison spent months experimenting with hundreds of different materials in his quest to create a workable incandescent light bulb, why--according to the evolutionists--did he do it? In order to find more mates? In order to spread his genes? In order to gain status, so as to find more mates and spread his genes?"
Well, *sigh*, no, Carol & Larry. Most "evolutionists" would offer pretty much the same surface-level explanation for Edison's strange behavior as anybody else: among other things, he was very smart, very determined, very creative, and avid of wealth, fame & power.
It's at the next level down that "evolutionists" start saying something interesting & different:
Why are people smart? Why are they determined? Why are they creative? Why are they avid of wealth, fame & power (to the extent that they are)?
Because, up to a point, intelligence, determination, creativity, and the desire for wealth, fame & power were qualitites that tended to result, in the circumstances of human evolution, in greater inclusive fitness - I.e., genes that contributed to intelligence, determination, creativity, and the desire for wealth, fame & power tended to spread, while genes that detracted from same tended to die out.
It's a great puzzle to me why sharp gals & guys like Carol & Larry seem to find this rather obvious point so difficult to grasp.