Tuesday, January 15, 2013

449: The Art Not to Be an Egoist 14

What interests us here is the question what is the quintessence of human nature. Do we live in a world of greedy egoists, which is a popular belief these day, 

or is the quintessence of human nature not mere self-interest, but more…a capability to go beyond self-interest?

Gradually we develop here the view, that, describing the human being as a by 100% self-interest motivated organism,  is a hard to defend position.

However, this doesn't mean that we have a clear view of the balance between self-interest and altruism in our behavior and by what principles this is controlled.

The human being is the only organism on earth, which is capable of introspection, which means being able to observe and judge itself.

The standards used to judge our behavior and actions are not innate. We have to learn them. But how? At least we can say, that there must be areas in the brain which enables us to learn moral behavior. So maybe something is innate yet.

In the introduction of his book "Empathy and Moral Development" (2000) Martin Hoffman,  emeritus professor of developmental psychology at New York University writes"

"When I tell people my interest is people's consideration for others, they perk up at first but then say something like it must be frustrating to study that because everybody is interested in themselves; who cares about anyone else, except maybe their family? 

But when I say humans could not have survived as a species if everyone cared only about himself, they pause, think about it, and then say something like "You might be right." 

The evolution argument carries weight, as though it were self-evident that hunters and gatherers had to help each other to survive, so humans must have helping genes.

In any case, it is in this end-of-millennium, first-world context of competitive individualism and little caring for others that some of us study presocial moral behavior

knowing full well that however much a person cares about others, when the chips are down, the individual thinks of himself first: He or she is not the other. (…)

Philosophy and religion have various answers to the dilemma between egoistic needs and social obligations, and their answers have parallels in contemporary psychological theory. 

One answer, the "doctrine of original sin," which assumes people are born egoistic and acquire a moral sense through socialization, that controls egoism
is paralleled in early Freudian and social learning theories that stressed the importance for moral development of reward and punishment by parents, especially giving and withholding affection

The diametrically opposed and more interesting "doctrine of innate purity," associated with Rousseau who viewed children as innately good (sensitive to others) but vulnerable to corruption by society, 

has a rough parallel in Piaget' s theory, not that children are innately pure but that their relation to adults produces a heteronomous respect for rules and authority which interferes with moral development. - END QUOTE -

Like Piaget (1896 - 1980)  Hoffman to developed a multi-stage development:  from imitation to empathy and then to compassion. And from the compassion to self-correction to responsibility and finally to concept of fairness.

Next lecture we'll look into this developmental process.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:23] Bejiita Imako:
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there are those who would say about evolution it is the survival of the fittest
[13:23] Velvet (velvet.braham): gotta read up on this Piaget guy.
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): especial among those who are self centered
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:24] herman Bergson: That is a common mistake Gemma....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm survival of the fittest ive heard sometimes indeed
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i know
[13:24] herman Bergson: Fittest means best adapted to the situation....
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not in their minds :_)
[13:25] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): I guess she is pointing to nature selection
[13:25] herman Bergson: and we being social animals.....we kick out the self centered individuals...
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: heheheh
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): would be a lot less people around then
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is no problem...we got plenty ^_^
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i know
[13:26] herman Bergson: The basic problem we are facing here is the Nature - Nurture problem
[13:26] Mick Nerido: they end up in jail or dead
[13:26] herman Bergson: Or basically the question....
[13:26] herman Bergson: is a human being born with a moral sense
[13:27] herman Bergson: and if so..in what way....
[13:27] herman Bergson: Hoffman emphasizes EMPATHY....
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): Well, we all hate loneliness.
[13:27] herman Bergson: that is a basic natural feature of the human being....
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): so maybe the first requirement is friendship... and then loyalty and morals
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes something alone those lines Debbie
[13:28] Velvet (velvet.braham): I think empathy is a basic thing.
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: I hate be alone, nice i have so many friends around me
[13:28] Velvet (velvet.braham): intrinsic.
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Velvet....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: thats a basic drive for me for sure
[13:28] herman Bergson: The most funny thing are a bunch of babies....say 9 months old...
[13:29] herman Bergson: when one begins to cry....all take over
[13:29] Velvet (velvet.braham): lol. That is so true.
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:29] Catt (catt.gable): misery loves company
[13:29] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:29] Bejiita Imako:
[13:29] Velvet (velvet.braham): same with laughter
[13:29] herman Bergson: But this is regarded as a first sign of empathy....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: yes that's true
[13:29] Mick Nerido: like yawning imitation?
[13:29] Debbie Dee (framdor): Its like the boys in the pub watching football - one gets drunk antd they all take over ;)
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hahahahahah
[13:30] herman Bergson: Oh there is more to observe here among adults
[13:30] Fred123 Aiten: lol
[13:30] herman Bergson: Just keep a close eye on it...
[13:30] Velvet (velvet.braham): when I interact with people who do not show empathy, I figure something is broken in them.
[13:30] herman Bergson: and you'll see that people will imitate each others gestures...
[13:31] herman Bergson: a couple talking....
[13:31] Catt (catt.gable): mirror
[13:31] herman Bergson: he touches his face....
[13:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): some of this reminds me of 'herd instincts'
[13:31] herman Bergson: the other does the same
[13:31] Debbie Dee (framdor): And yawning is a good example - it is an empathetic gesture...
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:31] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): and herd instincts are followed by lower animals
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Fans in sporting events...
[13:32] herman Bergson: That is even more basic Merlin....
[13:32] herman Bergson: A panic in a stadion
[13:32] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes Herman, perhaps because it is instinct not logical
[13:32] herman Bergson: There is no logic there, believe me :-)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: rather chaos
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Shoals of fish are interesting too....
[13:33] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): and mass flocks of birds
[13:33] herman Bergson: ok...so we are born with a certain capability....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: and often unfortunately with tragic results
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: like recently new years over 60 people trampled to death due to panic
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: dont remember where
[13:34] herman Bergson: Now we have to figure out how that capability...the capability of empathy can lead to moral standards....
[13:34] herman Bergson: That still is a long way to go.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: But to give you an indication.....
[13:35] Debbie Dee (framdor): It involves feedback ;)
[13:35] herman Bergson: an experiment with kids between 6 and 8....
[13:35] herman Bergson: they got a bunch of candy.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: and the instruction that they could ...it would eb nice to.....share it with another kid, they didn't know...
[13:36] herman Bergson: But that other kid was not present in the room....only a photo....
[13:36] herman Bergson: what happened was amazing....
[13:37] herman Bergson: Half of the kids split their stack of candies in two....half half
[13:37] herman Bergson: This leads to the fairness principle...
[13:37] herman Bergson: There was a same experiment with adults....
[13:38] herman Bergson: one person got 50 dollars....
[13:38] herman Bergson: He had to share it with someone else...
[13:38] herman Bergson: he was allowed to make only one offer to the other person....
[13:38] herman Bergson: If the other person would decline the offer the first person had to return the 50 dollars...
[13:39] herman Bergson: it is called the Ultimatum experiment...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:39] herman Bergson: result....
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: share or get nothing at all i guess
[13:39] herman Bergson: the majority split the money 25 - 25....half half
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): good experiment - expected result.
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is what you say so easily Debbie
[13:40] herman Bergson: Expected result
[13:40] Velvet (velvet.braham): that makes my heart feel good
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes ...I would say so too....
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Velvet..I had the same experience about this
[13:41] herman Bergson: These are interesting things about the species homo sapiens...:-)
[13:41] Catt (catt.gable): why the ultimatum? did they think the subjects would not try as hard to share without that incentive?
[13:41] herman Bergson: But there is something other interesting thing....
[13:42] Velvet (velvet.braham): Catt, I think the subjects were forced to "bet" on how empathetic others were.
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): did those people get the money from someone else to experience..or..did they use their own money?
[13:42] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes catt has a point. what if the experiment were repeated without the threst?
[13:42] herman Bergson: No Catt ...was just the title of the experiment...because any offer to split was in fact an ultimatum for the other...take it or leave it
[13:43] herman Bergson: We'll get back to this experimant...because there have been tested variations too
[13:43] Catt (catt.gable): I thought I understood you to say the subjects couldn't keep the 50 if turned down by the other. Maybe I misunderstood you
[13:43] Catt (catt.gable): ok
[13:43] herman Bergson: But in the literature it is named the Ultimatum experiment...
[13:44] herman Bergson: One thing I still want to tell you....
[13:44] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): .
[13:44] herman Bergson: the Chimp has always been regarded as THE closest relative to the human...
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well..They discovered another ape..the Bonobo....
[13:45] herman Bergson: as smart and social as the chimp...
[13:45] Debbie Dee (framdor): There are some down the road from me - in a primate reserve.
[13:45] herman Bergson: That Bonobo is even more social and non aggressive...
[13:45] Debbie Dee (framdor): they look quite human...
[13:45] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): yes Debbie, me too
[13:46] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): or about 80 miles away anyway
[13:46] herman Bergson: chimps are very aggressive agiants apes from outside their group...
[13:46] herman Bergson: even go at war against another group and kill
[13:46] Catt (catt.gable): and as they age, apparently
[13:46] herman Bergson: Bonobos dont...
[13:46] herman Bergson: We'll get to that later, but the funny thing is...
[13:47] herman Bergson: you get the impression  that we are a mix of chimp and bonobo in our behavior :-)
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): and some have a tiny bit of Neandertaler in them...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: some are chimps and some are bonoboos
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well good for a next lecture...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Class dismissed and thank you all
[13:48] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: speaking of sharing
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: here u go herman
[13:48] herman Bergson: My apologies for the rough reception Afro....
[[13:48] Bejiita Imako:
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): thanks Herman....
[13:48] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman
[13:48] Debbie Dee (framdor): that was a great lecture.
[13:48] Mick Nerido: thanks!
[13:48] Catt (catt.gable): TY Herman
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): always
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: this was really interesting
[13:49] Velvet (velvet.braham): Thank you, Herman!
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: this we have to investigate further for sure
[13:49] herman Bergson: But you are always welcome fro, but you'd better be in time next time :-)
[13:49] Debbie Dee (framdor): btw - there is a lovely subject in New Scientist this week herman
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): the Hologenome theory of evolution...
[13:50] herman Bergson: ok Debbie?!
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=hologenome&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hologenome_theory_of_evolution&ei=FjfvUIeaMIKShgeb3oCgDQ&usg=AFQjCNHuAkEuBfcNUt3b_NnP5iQOHvdHNw&bvm=bv.1357700187,d.ZG4
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: Good night Herman, good night everybody!
[13:50] herman Bergson: ohhh!!!
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): heres a wikipedia link
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye   
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): lizzy
[13:50] herman Bergson: THNX!
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): qwarkk is afk
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hhehehe
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): will sit here till he gets back
[13:50] herman Bergson: poor Qwark...
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye   
[13:51] Bejiita Imako:
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): and on that note - night friends....
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I will look that up too Debbie
[13:51] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): Herman my RL roommate is philosopher, one day we were talking about one philosopher who had questioned do we exist in real?
[13:51] Catt (catt.gable): regarding the 50 dollar share test, would be interested in what the variations were sometime.
[13:51] herman Bergson: in fact that is a silly question.....
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): Afroze, I know you are a figment of my imagination ;)
[13:51] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye everyone
[13:52] Velvet (velvet.braham): me too, Catt
[13:52] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): Debbie that philosopher made a theory out of to explain we do exist
[13:52] Debbie Dee (framdor): me too catt
[13:52] herman Bergson: Yes Afroze this is a silly question and let me tell you why
[13:52] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): sure
[13:53] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): sorry i dunno much of philosophy so i asked
[13:53] herman Bergson: When someone asks ARE WE REAL he must already have the knowledge of the difference between real and unreal
[13:53] herman Bergson: But IF he has that knowledge....where did he get it from???
[13:53] Velvet (velvet.braham): ooooooo
[13:54] herman Bergson: So it is a silly question because it begs the question :-)
[13:54] Debbie Dee (framdor): Maybe we all exist in a giant computer simulation ?
[13:54] herman Bergson: Even Descartes ran into a wall....
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: Matrix
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:54] Velvet (velvet.braham): the matrix
[13:54] Velvet (velvet.braham): lol
[13:54] Catt (catt.gable): haha Bejiita, was thinking same
[13:54] herman Bergson: He even didn't ask ..are we real...
[13:54] Bejiita Imako:
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: at least i love those films
[13:54] herman Bergson: He just asked...AM I???
[13:55] Debbie Dee (framdor): I think therefore I am.
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: aha
[13:55] herman Bergson: which was in a way pretty stupid because you only can ask that when you ARE :-)
[13:55] Catt (catt.gable): lol
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:56] herman Bergson: ANd thus he believed he had found the golden egg of philosophy....I AM...whhooo hooo:-)
[13:56] Catt (catt.gable): I think the point isn't that it is or is not a silly question, but rather to pose it in order to arrive at something else...a sort of base position
[13:56] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): thanks for that Herman
[13:57] herman Bergson: The question is silly in the sense that is already presupposes the answer which makes asking the question meaningful
[13:57] herman Bergson: I mean
[13:57] herman Bergson: before asking about the unreal you also have to know the real
[13:57] Catt (catt.gable): I think the person posing it knew that but wanted to introduce the subject on the way to exploring existence
[13:58] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have to go..thanks Herman..
[13:58] Catt (catt.gable): just another view
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: cu Beertje
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:58] Debbie Dee (framdor): well, a lot of self - philosophy starts with trying to decipher the deeper meaning of words... and dealing with imprecision...
[13:59] herman Bergson: or even by asking how words get their meaning, Debbie
[13:59] Debbie Dee (framdor): Yes indeed Herman.
[13:59] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): science is pretty striaght forward…how would you define philosophy...I never understood that...
[13:59] Debbie Dee (framdor): philosophy is the science of thinking about who we are....
[14:00] Debbie Dee (framdor):  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[14:00] herman Bergson: The problem, Afroze, is here the use of a word....
[14:00] herman Bergson: first of all philosophy sois no science....
[14:00] herman Bergson: science is defined as certain knowledge
[14:01] herman Bergson: Like Bertrand Russell said....
[14:01] herman Bergson: as soon as you have a clear and definite answer to a question which was regarded as philosophical....the subject moves over to science
[14:01] Velvet (velvet.braham): indeed!
[14:02] herman Bergson: For instance dualism.....
[14:02] herman Bergson: is there a mind and a body....as two independent separately exisiting entities in this world
[14:02] Debbie Dee (framdor): Science is not certain knowledge - it is a method used to seek knowledge...
[14:03] Velvet (velvet.braham): well, that's science as a philosophy! :)
[14:03] herman Bergson: in 1650 till 1950...roughly....the answer was a philosophical answer
[14:03] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): Debbie best way to define science is nature and its rules
[14:03] herman Bergson: Well Debbie...I cant agree with that....
[14:03] Debbie Dee (framdor): Me, I do science ;)
[14:04] herman Bergson: Then I would say....pragmatically...
[14:04] Debbie Dee (framdor): what don't you agree with herman?
[14:04] herman Bergson: science is theories about reality that work
[14:04] Bejiita Imako: true
[14:04] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes - but they are all arrived at using scientific method....
[14:04] Catt (catt.gable): as far as they have gotten at at any given time
[14:04] Velvet (velvet.braham): I was a math major in college
[14:05] Velvet (velvet.braham): and I took a philosophy class
[14:05] Velvet (velvet.braham): the professor like to put me on the spot
[14:05] Velvet (velvet.braham): for entertainment value
[14:05] Debbie Dee (framdor): ie - hypothesis - experiment - new hypothesis.
[14:05] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): Debbie u are defining instruments but not science
[14:05] herman Bergson: yes Debbie..but any hypothesis is based on knowledge of facts
[14:05] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): i agree with herman definition
[14:05] Catt (catt.gable): new discovery new hypothesis new experiment newer hypothesis
[14:06] Debbie Dee (framdor): and scientists all know we may have to change hypotheses if new facts emerge
[14:06] Catt (catt.gable): yes
[14:06] herman Bergson: yes...but that is not what applies to philosophy....
[14:06] herman Bergson: Philosophy is not a science in that sense
[14:07] herman Bergson: far from that even....I would say
[14:07] Debbie Dee (framdor): I agree.
[14:07] herman Bergson: Philosophy is what comes before science
[14:07] Velvet (velvet.braham): deductive reasoning
[14:08] herman Bergson: you use that in philosophy too Velvet....
[14:08] herman Bergson: even more so...philosophy developed the methods of logic
[14:08] Debbie Dee (framdor): Science is not certain knowledge - it is a method used to seek knowledge... - I only disagreed with your statement on science
[14:08] herman Bergson: So before science comes LOGIC...
[14:08] Debbie Dee (framdor): sure
[14:08] Velvet (velvet.braham): yes
[14:08] Bejiita Imako: yes
[14:08] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): true
[14:09] Bejiita Imako: sounds right to e
[14:09] Bejiita Imako: me
[14:09] Bejiita Imako:
[14:09] herman Bergson: Not certain in an absolute sense Debbie...
[14:09] herman Bergson: in a pragmatic sense...it works...
[14:09] Debbie Dee (framdor): see - this is philosophy ;)
[14:09] Velvet (velvet.braham): :)
[14:09] herman Bergson: this pill with stuff this or that cures me...
[14:09] Debbie Dee (framdor): we deduce things from other things...
[14:09] Debbie Dee (framdor): and argue a lot ;))))
[14:09] herman Bergson: is that the best pill?
[14:10] herman Bergson: The best pill there is at the moment :-)
[14:10] Debbie Dee (framdor): Once you use scientific method and experiments in philosophy, it must be science.
[14:11] herman Bergson: A pretty odd statement Debbie :-)
[14:11] herman Bergson: It was philosophy that developed the scientific method....
[14:11] Catt (catt.gable): nods
[14:11] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): true
[14:11] herman Bergson: Think of Popper for instance
[14:11] herman Bergson: he showed that induction only leads to larger probability....
[14:12] herman Bergson: never to absolute certainty
[14:12] herman Bergson: so don't go and look for another white swan....
[14:12] Debbie Dee (framdor): ok ;)
[14:12] herman Bergson: put your energy in finding a black one!
[14:12] Catt (catt.gable): smiles
[14:12] Bejiita Imako:
[14:13] Debbie Dee (framdor): anyway... I really must be going... thanks for a great evening...
[14:13] herman Bergson: Then you know absolutely certain that the statement "All swans are white" is 100&% FALSE
[14:13] Catt (catt.gable): haha
[14:13] Debbie Dee (framdor): good induction advice.
[14:13] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[14:13] Velvet (velvet.braham): this is why I look forward to this class
[14:13] Velvet (velvet.braham): thanks, everyone
[14:13] Debbie Dee (framdor): till tuesday... byeeee
[14:13] herman Bergson: My pleasure Velvet
[14:13] Bejiita Imako:
[14:13] Bejiita Imako: cu then
[14:14] herman Bergson: Be Debbie
[14:14] Catt (catt.gable): Thanks again, herman
[14:14] Catt (catt.gable): I better push along too
[14:14] Bejiita Imako: bye all
[14:14] Catt (catt.gable): bye Bej
[14:14] Catt (catt.gable): Afroze, glad you could make it
[14:15] Catt (catt.gable): bye all
[14:15] herman Bergson: Bye CAtt
[14:15] herman Bergson: Again...sorry for the rough entrance Afroze
[14:15] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): it was nice class Herman
[14:15] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): its ok Herman
[14:15] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): I liked it very much
[14:15] herman Bergson: well thank you...
[14:16] herman Bergson: You are always welcome
[14:16] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): i'll attend next class
[14:16] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): thnks for having me
[14:16] αƒɾøʐε (afroze4all): have good day/night
[14:16] herman Bergson: You too :-)

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