Wednesday, January 2, 2013

447: The Art Not to be an Egoist 12

Probably the most important difference between man and ape  is easy to identify: it is the ability of humans to establish norms. 

Apes only make the difference accepted and not-accepted. They obviously do not make the distinction between acceptable and non-acceptable. 

In short, they do not translate their judgment into a  standard, a custom or rule. As far as we know, apes do not derive abstract rules of behavior from their actual behavior.

The ability to universal norms, rules and maxims is an impressive human achievement. We are able to reason from the singular to the universal, the generalization.

But where does that come from? If our feelings, our social intuition guides our actions, why would we then need a reasonable general maxim? 

Why imprinted evolution in our minds the ability to formulate abstract norms and abstract value and judge ourselves and others by them? In other words: how in an empire of Willing came Ought into the world?

Where does the Ought come from. Regarding to this question it seems that biologists, psychologists and philosophers are pretty much in agreement.

To be able to play the social chess we play we need the ability to put ourselves in the place of the other. What would the other expect me to do? 

Because of this ability it could have helped our ancestors to develop the simple rule: What you don't want to happen to you, don't make it happen to your neighbor either.

From the ability of compassion and the basic sense of unfairness developed a first an unspoken and later verbalized rule.

When you analyze the protection against unfair treatment,  you run into feelings like decency, shame and taboo. Feelings which are absolutely necessary in a society to function.

So we could say that our morality developed from our social intuition and later our evolving brain translated this into rules, norms and standards of behavior? Is it really that simple?

At least one question has to answered yet: When we all use the same social intuition, then how can it be that people often act so differently individually? Why don't we all have the same moral reflexes?

When you look  at a cultural level you run into the same question. When all people have the same basic feeling of unfairness like the Capuzine monkeys seem to have too, why then are in some cultures women oppressed for centuries?

And where was the intuitive sense of decency and shame in the guards of concentration camps or for instance a prison in Iraq?

Brain damage of the prefrontal lobe leads to immoral and uncontrolled behavior, like we have seen with the famous Phineas Gage from 1848.

But it would be a bridge too far to claim that al our common immoral behavior like cheating, lying, speeding and so on, it the result of brain damage.

Our complex social life is only possible because we have moral standards. But at the same time there is a constant battle going on between our prehistoric social intuition and our ratio, as guardian of norms and standards.

When you and your group are hiding for a bunch of murdering soldiers and a baby starts crying so loud, that it will  reveal your hiding place….would you choke the baby? The death of one in exchange for the life of 15 others?

When you think about an answer you might conclude that our intuition or feeling isn't worse than our reason, where social intuition says "NO",while reason may say "YES". 

A second point is that our rational judgements are never void of feelings.

And the third point is, that what leads to the final decision, our social intuition or our ratio, is different in every individual person.

Morality is a social tool. It makes our complex way of social life possible. To grasp the whole picture we have to take our thoughts one step further.

Whether social intuition or rational deliberation is at the basis of our action, we will always be asked to JUSTIFY our action, give reasons.

This ability and need to justify our actions may be the essence of our morality. Our next point of interest and investigation.

This is the last lecture before the Holidays. The next lecture will be Tuesday January 8.. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:26] herman Bergson: Thank you all ^_^
[13:26] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: Nice Herman .)
[13:26] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): *nice and interesting* Herman
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:26] Jane Fossett: woo, thank you
[13:26] Qwark Allen: very nice
[13:26] Qwark Allen: still digesting it
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:27] herman Bergson: I agree it wasn't easy today....
[13:27] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): thank you, herman :)
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that baby question is not an old one it is renewed lately
[13:27] herman Bergson: But the main point you should keep in mind it the idea of justification....
[13:27] Rik (diedo.loopen): ty herman
[13:28] herman Bergson: It was originaly invented by Jonathan Greene....harvard prof..
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i was listening to a syrian child talk to an interviewer
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the other day
[13:29] herman Bergson: and it demonstrates clearly how we respond....intuitively or rationally
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Something you said near the end Herman reminds me that I previously had an opinion about the chimps in the video
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: a thing i came to think about what u said before
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): is still going on
[13:29] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): That they were showing consideration for others in order to gain acceptance in their group
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i read an article in the news about why hitler could make an whole army of murderers, it seems that they were not blindly following orders as they have thought
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: but actually was made to believe that the jews were like cockroaches and that it was right thing to make them suffer
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: a bit worrying
[13:30] herman Bergson: No Bejiita...and I'll come to that in next lectures....
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: meaning that these terrible acts will always exist he ended the article with
[13:30] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): look at israel and gaza
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: however don't know about the expertise of the writer of the article
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: but made me think a bit
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well bejiita..he has some point...
[13:31] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): it has been always a method of the ruling party to discriminate a minority by comparing them with animals, so it had been easier for their soldiers to attack and kill them
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: i really hope it isn't the case that u can just reprogram someone to hate
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:31] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): not only for the soldiers
[13:32] herman Bergson: Indeed Oceana...
[13:32] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): for the people also
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well Bejita... it did look a bit like they could programme people then
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: also why are all women without rights in saudi arabia
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: also terrible
[13:32] Rik (diedo.loopen): maybe there is a god
[13:32] herman Bergson: It is the We or They issue...
[13:32] herman Bergson: We'll discuss that here too
[13:32] Jane Fossett: yes
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:32] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: But we need a New Year for that ^_^
[13:33] Rik (diedo.loopen): maybe it s not question yes or no
[13:33] Rik (diedo.loopen): yes right
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I think the Us and Them issue could get a lot worse with increasing population
[13:33] Rik (diedo.loopen): we can consider it
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: indeed this is very tricky subject
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: makes the head spinning sometimes hehe
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: but very interesting stuff that make u really think
[13:33] Rik (diedo.loopen): and pray for our loves ones
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well Merlin...think of the present financial crisis.....
[13:34] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): it is a worldwide game about might
[13:34] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes Herman?
[13:34] herman Bergson: the increasing gap between the rich and poor in this world....
[13:34] herman Bergson: Ready for an US or Them battle if this continues
[13:34] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): there is no real financial crisis, it is man made
[13:35] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): the financial leaders always win
[13:35] herman Bergson: Oh true Alegra...absolutely true...
[13:35] Rik (diedo.loopen): i think it always been this way about very rich and poor people
[13:35] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Well you could guess who would win such a battle
[13:35] herman Bergson: In fact there is no crisis at is just the way it is...
[13:35] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): yes, there´s is no outside of the imperium as one of the recent philosopher put it, all the markets are so interlinked, that it will come to something like a big bubble to explode one day ...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: the ones with the most money always seem to win
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: not fair
[13:36] herman Bergson: Look at history Merlin...lots of kings were decapitated
[13:36] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): look what they do withe the money to save a country ... they are saving banks
[13:36] Rik (diedo.loopen): than we need to define what a crisis is
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very true
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:36] herman Bergson: exactly Rik..^_^
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): My thoughts were as Bejiita, but 'yeah' also to Hermans point
[13:36] herman Bergson: that is the whole point!
[13:36] Jane Fossett: There are many levels of social interaction, many circumstances where 'us' and 'them' change. I think the conflict between those group interactions likely fuels in part the change in ethical paradigms.
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: feeding their own pockets instead of make the country work
[13:36] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:36] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): right
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: those bankers
[13:37] Rik (diedo.loopen): i can imagine some relay have a crisis losing jobs and not able to take their family
[13:37] herman Bergson: oops ..that was a difficult one Jane...:-)
[13:37] Rik (diedo.loopen): really
[13:37] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:37] Rik (diedo.loopen): sorry for my english i tend to type to fast sometimes
[13:37] herman Bergson: could you rephrase it a bit?
[13:37] Jane Fossett: I'll rephrase one part of my statement
[13:37] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): if ordinary citizens has to "support" their banks and get no interests for not risky savings, then something is entirely wrong with the market... this system increases the decay of the middle class
[13:38] herman Bergson: Dont worry Rik..we all understand typonees here
[13:38] Jane Fossett: conflict drives culture
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: indeed the people give but give nothing back
[13:38] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): the middle class has to pay all at least
[13:38] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): and the gap will become bigger
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: same with insurance companies paying high fees and then they make up a reason to not give u anything when an accident or similar happens
[13:38] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): the middle class is fading away ...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: u give but get nothing back
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Oceana...that is a problem...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: thats stealing i d say
[13:39] Jane Fossett: 'middle class' is ambiguous, its a group tag I think
[13:39] herman Bergson: The rise of culture and prosperity occurred when a middle class grew in a society..
[13:39] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I agree.. it is a kind of no-mans land
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:40] herman Bergson: bridging the gap between poor and rich...
[13:40] Jane Fossett: we split people up into groups...
[13:40] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): as bourdieu put it, how can we survive with our cultural capital... if the matrix conditions are changing...
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): The middle class is the only one who finds raising children expensive
[13:40] Rik (diedo.loopen): i like the text ........nothing new under the sun ,maybe we need to look at it from a different way
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: yes maybe
[13:41] herman Bergson: get back to our point of focus....
[13:41] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): of course nothing new, in former times the kings now the bankers
[13:41] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: what we are studying here is the question after Human NAture...
[13:42] herman Bergson: So far we see a distinction between social intuition and rational judgement....
[13:42] herman Bergson: but the new issue now is....
[13:43] herman Bergson: that whether social intuition or rational deliberation guide our moral behavior...
[13:43] herman Bergson: we still have to JUSTIFY our actions.....
[13:43] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): only the conditions that lead to justification are very personally
[13:43] herman Bergson: That will be our concern for the new year...
[13:44] Jane Fossett: :-) and criteria for justification is another whole ball of wax.
[13:44] herman Bergson: That Alegra is the big question....
[13:44] Jane Fossett: :-)
[13:44] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): is your question more related to the old kantian question, how should we act?
[13:44] herman Bergson: Indeed Jane!
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we always have the questions :-)
[13:45] herman Bergson: But the demand of justification of moral behavior transcends social intuition or rational deliberation
[13:45] herman Bergson: at least at an individual level
[13:45] herman Bergson: The justification is some kind of public issue
[13:46] herman Bergson: Like you see today with all these greedy bankers....
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): isn't that why we have laws?
[13:46] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): hahaha yes
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: thats true
[13:46] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): I believe in certain moral standards to make life bearable for a great amount of people
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and a justice system?
[13:46] herman Bergson: Oh yes Oceana.....
[13:46] herman Bergson: that is what justification implies
[13:46] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): :)
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: i use to think, how can these bankers sleep well at night with no shame
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): to do it for a great amount of people who may not agree
[13:47] herman Bergson: For instance a Declaration of Human Rights
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): on ratio
[13:47] Jane Fossett: one issue is whether that 'demand' is internal or external... I think much cultural evolution is fueled by conflict and the need to change.
[13:47] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I don't know that word 'ratio' in this sense
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): individually we may never agree on something
[13:47] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): perhaps they old the use strategies of ignoring the suffering and poverty of a lot of people...
[13:48] herman Bergson: You are pretty conflict loving Jane ^_^
[13:48] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): old=use
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): so we create laws to cover that
[13:48] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): badly that law often is adapted to the wrong minority
[13:48] Jane Fossett: haha just practical
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma....Law is almost transcendental in this respect
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): but, to what kind of group does this laws apply.... are they for everyone... or are there for the people who are ruling a country and can get away with murder
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): lol
[13:49] Jane Fossett: grin
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): should be for everyone
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: but sometimes u wonder indeed
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): like the individual bankers who were in charge of the mess
[13:49] Qwark Allen: you should see what is happening in portugal then
[13:49] Jane Fossett: 'ethics' are in context to the group.
[13:49] herman Bergson: Indeed Oceana....we don't need to call names here
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:49] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Hmm there is news in Britain just now about that very thing... the murder of an Irishman
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and should be prosecuted
[13:50] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): look at regulation in copyright or somethings else .. ACTA
[13:50] Qwark Allen: all politicians at parlement have parlementary immunity
[13:50] Qwark Allen: its worst then in the time of monarchy there, when only the king has immunity
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark…Berlusconi is running for is like a rabbit
[13:50] Qwark Allen: haahha
[13:51] Qwark Allen: he is italian
[13:51] Qwark Allen: its kind of the same
[13:51] herman Bergson: twisted as spagetti
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol
[13:51] Jane Fossett: In the US, a very large number of congressmen became millionaires after they were elected. I guess that was a reward for their 'ethics.'
[13:51] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:51] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: i dont get how that swine can continue, now Berlu is soon back on the throne again even he have done so many nasty thing
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: he should be in jail by long
[13:52] herman Bergson: Weird observation Jane...
[13:52] Jane Fossett: haha
[13:52] Qwark Allen: tortelini you ment :-)))
[13:52] herman Bergson: Does congress pay that well?
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): no
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hahahah
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): nono
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[13:52] Jane Fossett: No sill :-)
[13:52] Jane Fossett: y
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they go speak
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: lol that ill start to cal him Berlusconi
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and get money
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: Tortelini
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): lots !!!
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:52] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): well, the common trust into the political caste seems to fail - so to what authority can we put trust in
[13:52] Qwark Allen: heheheh bejita
[13:52] herman Bergson: Wow...gonna apply for that job too....
[13:53] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): lol herman
[13:53] herman Bergson: Just look at all those Lindens in the new year !!!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: you have to learn how to be a good corrupt then hermann
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation again...
[13:53] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[13:53] Jane Fossett: woo!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: thank you :-)))
[13:53] herman Bergson: This was the last lecture of 2012..
[13:53] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): thank you for a great class, herman :)
[13:54] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): hahaha herman as new lobbyist for linden
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: but it is same with politicians here, even if they get fired even after being a very short while they still get millions in bonuses for years
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh no
[13:54] herman Bergson: in 2013 we may celebrate my 500th Lecture!!!!
[13:54] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): wow
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ahha
[13:54] herman Bergson: so Qwark...
[13:54] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): congrats
[13:54] Qwark Allen: we need to make a partyy that day
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you for all the wonderful lectures this year Herman!
[13:54] herman Bergson: Begin thinking about a big party...^_^
[13:54] Rik (diedo.loopen): ty herman
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): like graduation ?
[13:54] Alegra (hkalegre.koba): party?! oh yes for sure
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): never happens
[13:54] Rik (diedo.loopen): gemma see u soon fishing
[13:55] herman Bergson: It was a great pleasure again...
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): nice to see you
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in class
[13:55] Qwark Allen: was great lectures this year for sure
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: so its an endless misery spiral for these people
[13:55] herman Bergson: I thank you all and hope to see you in good health in January again

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