Thursday, January 12, 2017

635: Morality comes from within...

In my previous lecture I said that Spinoza was mistaken in emphasizing the basic self-interest of man as his driving power. You can not blame him for that.
The negative self image of man has been pushed upon us for centuries by various religions. Aren’t we all sinners?
We live in a time of increasing acceptance of our kinship with the apes. This are insights, which were far beyond Spinoza’s horizon.
True, humanity never runs out of claims of what sets it apart, but it is a rare uniqueness claim. 
If we consider our species without letting ourselves be blinded by the technical advances of the last few millennia, 
we see a creature of flesh and blood with a brain that, albeit three times larger than a chimpanzee’s, doesn’t contain any new parts.
Even our vaunted prefrontal cortex turns out to be of rather typical size compared with that of other primates. 
No one doubts the superiority of our intellect, but we have no basic wants or needs that are not also present in our close relatives. 
The view of morality as a set of immutable principles, or laws, that are ours to discover ultimately comes from religion. 
It doesn’t really matter whether it is God, human reason, or science that formulates these laws.
All of these approaches share a top-down orientation, their chief premise being that humans don’t know how to behave and that someone must tell them. 
But what if morality is created in day-to-day social interaction, not at some abstract mental level? 
What if it is grounded in the emotions, which most of the time escape the neat categorizations that science is fond of?
A good example is what we call “Altruism”. The typical argument against it runs as follows: (1) natural selection is a selfish, nasty process, 
(2) this automatically produces selfish and nasty individuals, and (3) only romantics with flowers in their hair would think otherwise.
Up to recent times, say the year 2000, the altruistic impulse was downplayed, ridiculed even. 
We were only slightly better than social insects. Human kindness was seen as a charade and morality as a thin veneer over a cauldron of nasty tendencies. 
However, anthropologists demonstrated a sense of fairness in people across the world, 
economists found humans to be more cooperative and altruistic than the Homo economicus view would allow, 
experiments with children and primates found altruism in the absence of incentives, six-month-old babies were said to know the difference between “naughty” and “nice,” 
and neuroscientists found our brains to be hardwired to feel the pain of others. If you have watched the videos, you know what I mean.
As Frans de Waal concludes: It is now widely assumed that we are designed in body and mind to live together 
and take care of each other, and that humans have a natural tendency to judge others in moral terms. 
Instead of being a thin veneer, morality comes from within. It’s part of our biology, a view supported by the many parallels found in other animals.
Don’t blame Spinoza for not knowing this. He still has a lot of interesting thoughts to offer…
Thank you… ^_^

The Discussion

[13:22] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): silence...
[13:22] CB Axel: In this past year it seems to me that the "altruistic impulse" is being "downplayed, ridiculed" again.
[13:22] herman Bergson: Morality is our ability to think about our that sense we differe from other animals
[13:23] herman Bergson: It needs a president to do that
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but human beings is the only animal that attacks his own 'soort '
[13:23] herman Bergson: oh no...Beertje
[13:24] CB Axel: To become a president, there must be others who feel like him.
[13:24] herman Bergson: Chimps are very aggressive too and can kill eachother
[13:24] CB Axel: All animals attack their own sort. They fight all the time.
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Donald Trump having moral? hmmmm doesnt go together
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but thats him
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there are other presidents
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): not in a way we as human do
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the scale ia much larger
[13:25] CB Axel: Yes, but apparently Trump is the president admired by enough people that he got elected.
[13:25] herman Bergson: The problem is that we are told for centuries now wthat we should ponder about the fact that we are selfish creatures....that is what we are..
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): for some reason but im not into their election system
[13:26] herman Bergson: our culture is soaked with that self image of man....and it is definitely a misconception
[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if one hears that one is selfish, we believe that
[13:26] CB Axel: You're right, Beertje. I can't think offhand of another animal that organizes armies to fight others.
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we become selfish when we ae influenced that way
[13:26] herman Bergson: ants do
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i dont think thats in us from start
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm indeed all bloody wars
[13:27] herman Bergson: chimps use sticks to beat
[13:27] herman Bergson: but I agree we are the best in waging war
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that is what I ment to say
[13:28] herman Bergson: however, this doesn’t change the fact that we also are social animals....
[13:28] CB Axel: But do the chimps organize as a group to invade and kill other groups? Or is it just individuals beating one another up?
[13:28] herman Bergson: They organize themselves to beat up one individual
[13:28] CB Axel: Ah
[13:29] herman Bergson: They do that yes
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:29] herman Bergson: Chimps have that same duality in their behavior as we have....
[13:29] CB Axel: It seems to me that Trump and his supporters are all selfish but their selfishness has different origins.
[13:29] herman Bergson: on the one hand we are killers and on the other hand we are social and caring creatures....
[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we should be smarter than a chimp
[13:30] herman Bergson: We are in the sense that we develop moral rules Beertje
[13:30] herman Bergson: Chimps act on their instincts....
[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): some people do too
[13:30] herman Bergson: We can step back and reconsider our planned actions
[13:31] CB Axel: It's my opinion that we are hardwired to mistrust those who are different from ourselves. That arises from our need in our primitive past to protect ourselves from invaders.
[13:31] herman Bergson: But keep in mind that we are hardly evolved from the animal kingdom...
[13:31] CB Axel: We banded together with family and others like us to protect ourselves from those who would take our food, our shelter, and our lives.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes CB...this is based on the hardwired feeling of FEAR....
[13:32] herman Bergson: What we do not know scares us
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one really sad thing i saw recently was that a clothes store had a picture of a really cute nice dark skinned guy dressed as lucia, imediatley hate and racism flooded the comment sections
[13:32] herman Bergson: SO we have this basic feeling of WE and the OTHERS
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i mean why?
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he looked great like that and seemed a such happy nice guy
[13:33] CB Axel: I would like to think that we are smart enough to recognize that in ourselves, understand that we cannot continue to live like that, and overcome our instinctual tendencies toward prejudice.
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): isn't Lucia a woman?
[13:33] CB Axel: It's like that here, Bejiita, with Santa Claus.
[13:33] CB Axel: Everyone wants Santa to look like themselves.
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes but is that so important nowadays, i think he looked great like that
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): time is changing , to me it diesnt matter, the important thing is that it is a nice cozy event and that there is something nice to eat
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): if the lucia is guy or girl black or white doesnt matter
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its the event itself thats the important thing
[13:35] CB Axel: True, Bejiita.
[13:36] herman Bergson: A lot of responses are based on fear.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: fear for the unknown,  they take our jobs....rape our women etc...
[13:36] CB Axel: What we need is a big space alien invasion to bring us all together.
[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's not only fear I think. Lucia is a tradition, people like to keep their own traditions
[13:37] herman Bergson: They fear to loose their own culture Beertje...
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there however also were lots of people just loving the guy and taking clear distance from the hate
[13:37] herman Bergson: Like nationalism, the ultimate WE feeling...
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes, but what is wrong with to keep your own identity?
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): in the end the store felt they needed to pull the image however
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hate won
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): :(
[13:38] CB Axel: That's too bad. :(
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): feel sad for the boy
[13:38] CB Axel: I feel sad for everyone who didn't like him.
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i don’t get how some people can be so cruel and unfeeling
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just spewing hate around
[13:39] herman Bergson: Same happens here in theNetherlands, Bejiita
[13:39] CB Axel: Perhaps they feel that having a black boy as Lucia was being cruel and unfeeling towards themselves and their traditions.
[13:39] herman Bergson: A bakery dared to put pictures of Black Peter, the helper of Sinterklaas in the window....
[13:40] herman Bergson: Next day big texts on his windows....racist !
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): pff
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Zwarte Piet has nothing to do with rasicism
[13:40] herman Bergson: Go an tellthat such people, Beertje
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed have nothing with racism to do
[13:41] herman Bergson: Since 1986 they are already complaining about this fellow being depicted as black
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they wouyldn't listen..they have a black wooden plank for their eyes
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): here in sweden there was even talk of banning gingerbread man, i just WTF
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita....
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): today everything is connected to hate and racism
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its crazy
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes true Bejiita
[13:43] CB Axel: Do they object to him being black or to white people putting on blackface to portray him?
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): speaking of i wish it was possible to change skin color rl, i think id look kind of cool rl dark skinned
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): change after your current mood
[13:43] herman Bergson: They object to him being refers acoording to the opponents, to the slavery of black people
[13:44] herman Bergson: and that hurts, they say
[13:44] CB Axel: Ah
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it has nothing to do with rasisism CB,, Zwarte Piet is an honour name
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's a bringer of joy
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:44] CB Axel: Yes. I understand.
[13:45] CB Axel: And it's spelled racism. °͜°
[13:45] herman Bergson: All of a sudden black people have become so sensitive :-)
[13:45] CB Axel: The English language sucks. LOL
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's an honour of being Zwarte Piet, to help Sinterklaas, bringing joy to the childeren
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): like the elves of your Santa Claus
[13:45] CB Axel: I don't think they've become sensitive. I think they now have the freedom to speak up about their sensitivities.
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): people who hate Zwarte Piet are frustrated
[13:46] herman Bergson: Indeed CB.....we live in a free country has its consequences
[13:46] CB Axel: I guess elves don't feel free to speak up. °͜°
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why not?
[13:47] herman Bergson: are they all white or do there exist black elves too CB?
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): do little people feel discriminated?
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): slaves of Santa?
[13:48] CB Axel: Yes, they do. That's why we call them little people and not dwarfs or midgets any more.
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i didn't know the word for dwarfs:)
[13:48] herman Bergson: step further andd all fairytales with dwarfs in them have to be forbidden...because the discriminate little people
[13:49] herman Bergson: midget
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ok:)
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i was unknowing politiek correct:)
[13:49] CB Axel: Midgets are not the same as dwarfs, I don't believe.
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we have another example, they had to edit out a part in the Disney Christmas program they send here in sweden, the part where a africal looking doll tries to scare santa by screaming MAMIII instead of Mama when asked to
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): was labeled as racist just recently and edited out, have watched that show all my live and not seen anything like this about it
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): omg.....
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it leaves a huge jump in the video
[13:51] herman Bergson: the clash of cultures, Bejiita
[13:52] herman Bergson: I think we better leave it by this for today.....
[13:52] herman Bergson: Otherwise there will be an action committee in no time ppleading for political correct fairytales
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hmm
[13:53] CB Axel: That has already happened.
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): gone with the diversity
[13:53] herman Bergson: Oh dear...
[13:53] herman Bergson: Well...thank you anyway for your participation again toady....
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice once again
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and interesting
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): your welcome, graag gedaan, Herman
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu thursday then
[13:53] CB Axel:
[13:54] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman. Good discussion.
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:54] CB Axel: It did nothing to change my opinion that humans suck, but interesting nonetheless. °͜°
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:55] CB Axel: See you all Thursday. °͜°
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): till thursday :)
[13:55] herman Bergson: I'd say, some humans suck, CB...not all humans suck
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): back to decorate my house a bit more
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least finishing the lamp
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight with politic correct dreams:)
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:56] herman Bergson: Bye CB

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