Tuesday, December 11, 2012

444: The Art Not to be an Egoist 9

I hope you have all watched the TED lecture of Frans de Waal. If not I'll give you the URL at the end of the lecture again.

Capuchin monkeys are not our closest relatives. Nevertheless, they can give us some insights. Even monkeys, it seems, cherish certain social expectations. 

And they have a sense of how others should treat them. Learning of capuchins means to see, that the creatures that have a rough idea of a Self, have expectations and demands about how they ought be treated.

And it means to see how the highly developed sense of justice of the human being might have taken its start somewhere there and that the Self is the logical place where you should look for its origin. 

If  the self-centered form is just there, then it is possible that it can be expanded so that it includes other individuals.

The ability to be fair, and that is the point here, is not a product of culture or an exclusively human consensus. It is deeply rooted into the animal kingdom. 

But is the sense of unfairness that overcame the unfairly treaded Capuchin monkey, already the same as a sense of fairness?

You can doubt that. When the other Capuchin monkey had been really "fair' he might have had the option to share his grape with his so unfairly treated colleague.

From this point of view it would not be proper to speak of a sense of justice in Capuchin monkey, but at least of an elementary sense of unfairness.

De Waal's theory of morality has a friendly face: The germ of the Good in man is an old story from the animal kingdom, which emerged from social behavior. 

Conflict resolution was the beginning, compassion and fairness were added later. From social to moral animal  it is just a small step, or rather a series of small steps.

To understand the baboons or even more the great apes means to discover the roots of our morality: in cooperation and comforting, gratitude and a sense of community.

De Waals model of morality is a kind of layered one:  Hidden in the heart is the emotional reflex, triggered by the behavior of others.

You find this just about anywhere in the higher animals. In the middle is the empathy, the ability to assess the emotions of another, including their reasons. Great apes appear to be capable of doing so like humans.

The outermost layer is the art of taking full account of the perspective of another. Only this is exclusively human. 

This is according to de Waal the evolutionary history of our morality, as revealed in the behavior of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

So morality has an origin in emotional responses and is not primarily under control of our rationality. That came only later, where moral intuitions went over into moral rules.

So we may conclude, that there is evidence, that our morality is not just a layer of thin veneer on a bestial and uncontrolled human nature.

John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) recognized this basic intuition and called it our sense of justice. And its flip side is the need to punish those who violate this feeling.

Our brain even  activates our reward center in the mesolimbic system, when we see how other people are punished for their unfairness, regardless it was unfairness towards us or to some other person.

Our ability to moral behavior, as we have seen, has deep and old roots. It is not a thin veneer created by culture. But how strong is our moral intuition?

In other words, what part does our Ratio play in all this?

The Discussion 

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:20] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:20] herman Bergson: for those who missed de Waal...
[13:20] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman
[13:20] herman Bergson: The long version of de Waal
[13:20] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): interesting Herman
[13:21] herman Bergson: if you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-))
[13:21] Jane Fossett: "Justice" and "Fairness" are very different concepts.
[13:21] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i will watch the video later
[13:21] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): what is the difference between moral behavior and moral intuition?
[13:21] herman Bergson: Yes Jane....
[13:22] herman Bergson: Maybe that is the role of our Ratio...
[13:22] Qwark Allen: we are talking about animals in general? or just primates?
[13:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): By the way, for the record, that parable I mentioned last time is Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Matthew 20:1-16.
[13:22] herman Bergson: Inndeed merlin...
[13:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :)
[13:23] herman Bergson: Mainly we talk about the higher animals and esp. primates here Qwark....
[13:23] Qwark Allen: i agree, mamels in general
[13:23] herman Bergson: And moral intuition causes moral behavior...
[13:23] herman Bergson: or like the moneys showed....
[13:24] herman Bergson: they have an intuition of fairness which causes the way they behaved
[13:24] Qwark Allen: probably we``ll see it even more, in the aquatic ones
[13:24] Qwark Allen: like dolphins and whales
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: How would you define the word intuition Herman?
[13:24] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I thought in the second video the co-operation of the chimps might be self-motivated in order to maintain social relationships.
[13:25] herman Bergson: intuition is for me a kind of how the brain is programmed to respond Lizzy
[13:25] Jane Fossett: And Moral intuition may well be ingrained, but not always for the good. There is likely an evolved sense of self protection and 'group identity' to the exclusion of others. The old testament is full of atrocities in the name of God. So is Revelation.
[13:25] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): ok that is acceptable, because moral is also changing in societies
[13:25] Jane Fossett: My group is good so you must die.
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Jane....We and the others....
[13:26] herman Bergson: We'll discuss that issue in future lectures....
[13:26] herman Bergson: on the other hand....
[13:26] Jane Fossett: Chimps do that too.
[13:26] herman Bergson: the intuition I am talking about has developed far before the Old Testemental humans....
[13:27] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:27] Qwark Allen: testameqntal humans are related to what? 6 - 10000 years ago?
[13:27] Qwark Allen: ehhehe
[13:27] herman Bergson: One characteristic is the cooperative attitude in social beings....like Kropotkin showed
[13:27] Qwark Allen: i see your point hermann
[13:27] herman Bergson: harly Qwark,,,,
[13:28] Qwark Allen: like this kind of behavior is innate
[13:28] herman Bergson: 4500 years ago or less I would say..
[13:28] herman Bergson: Moses lived among the Egyptians
[13:28] Qwark Allen: probalby comes from millions years ago
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): are you going back to adam and eve?
[13:29] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): hehe
[13:29] Qwark Allen: much far back then those 2
[13:29] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:29] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well look at the table at the wall to my left...
[13:29] Jane Fossett: (Kropotkin was a communist.... :-) )
[13:29] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:29] herman Bergson: Like I said in another lecture....
[13:30] herman Bergson: there seems to be a relation to the political view and the view on human nature Jane
[13:30] Jane Fossett: true.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Like Hobbes therefore could never be a communist :-))
[13:30] Lizzy Pleides: do people from different cultures have different intuitions in certain respects?
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): good question
[13:30] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): they have
[13:31] herman Bergson: Maybe not Lizzy....
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i think so since it is based on different experiences
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in their lives
[13:31] herman Bergson: If you thing of mutual care, honesty, friendship, gratitude...feelings like that
[13:31] Qwark Allen: probably what is fair to a new guinea man, is not fair to me
[13:31] herman Bergson: They seem to have a universal character
[13:31] Qwark Allen: even both have fairness judgement
[13:32] Jane Fossett: but only in the 'group'
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Oh by the way. BBC Radio4 In Our Time today is about Russell.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Indeed Jane....
[13:32] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): and what is the group
[13:32] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): depends on interests
[13:32] herman Bergson: Teh group is the context Wittgenstein referred to...
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): And they even mention Wittgenstein briefly too
[13:33] herman Bergson: The truth of an emperical statement is not given as such...it is elated to a context....
[13:33] herman Bergson: Liek the example I gave...
[13:33] herman Bergson: A give B money....
[13:33] herman Bergson: tat seems to be the empirical fact
[13:33] herman Bergson: But what is the proposition to describe it...
[13:34] herman Bergson: A pays B
[13:34] herman Bergson: A loans money to B
[13:34] herman Bergson: A pays a debt to B
[13:34] herman Bergson: All seem to refer to the same empirical situation...
[13:34] herman Bergson: yet you need the context to establish the truth value of the statement
[13:35] herman Bergson: Is it isn a store, in a bar, in a bank...etc.
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: i am wondering what the difference between intuition and instinct is
[13:35] Catt (catt.gable): nods
[13:35] Jane Fossett: Logic defines 'truth' not context, correct?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well...so far we dare say that there is a biological and evolutionary explanation of the origin of morality....
[13:36] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): but seems to be very basic only
[13:36] Qwark Allen: fair enough
[13:36] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): why morality is off in wars as an example?
[13:36] herman Bergson: intuition and instinct....
[13:37] herman Bergson: I would say that they are two words looking at the same ting from a different angle
[13:37] herman Bergson: intuition comes from psychology....instinct comes from biology
[13:38] Lizzy Pleides: ty for the definition Herman
[13:38] herman Bergson: I think our next chapter will be to investigate how our rationality handles the intuitions we just discussed....
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:38] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: But that will be a subject for future lectures....
[13:39] Qwark Allen: will be interesting for sure
[13:39] herman Bergson: So thank you all for your interest and participation again....
[13:39] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:39] Qwark Allen: its not fair
[13:39] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:39] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): yes will be interesting
[13:39] Qwark Allen: class just ended
[13:39] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): ty herman
[13:39] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:39] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:40] Jane Fossett: thank you!
[13:40] Vadaman: Thanks Herman.
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[13:40] Guestboook van tipjar stand: bergfrau Apfelbaum donated L$100. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty, herman
[13:40] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:40] herman Bergson: My pleasure...
[13:40] Qwark Allen: :-)))

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