Wednesday, March 11, 2020

834: How bad are we.....?

The conviction that Hobbes was right and that man by nature was not OK is so deeply engraved in our mind, that we are easily willing to take it as a scientific fact.
The best source to prove, that this conviction is correct are the media.
We have a TV program named "Opsporing verzocht" (Investigation Requested). It shows the public shocking recordings of security cameras.
You see thieves, robberies, violence etc. and the viewer is asked: "Do you recognize these men", "have you seen this car" and so on.
After  a 40 minutes you hardly can escape the feeling of fear and sadness. What a bad world we live in! But it is a totally disproportional feeling.
Here you can say to  yourself: Come was just one person of the 17 million Dutchies, who robbed the cashier. So 17 million minus one are really OK!
Right, such TV programs zoom in on single events and put the world under a looking glass. What they show us is a disproportional version of reality.
However, it is not that easy to come to  the conclusion, that it is a misconception, that we are bad people living in a bad world.
Take, for instance the next example. I was reading an interview with Paul Preston in my newspaper.
Sir Paul Preston CBE (born 21 July 1946 in Liverpool) is an English historian and Hispanist, biographer of Franco, specialist in Spanish history, 
in particular the Spanish Civil War, which he has studied for more than 30 years. He is the winner of multiple awards for his books on the Spanish Civil War.
Professor at the London School of Economics, Oxford education and here talking about corruption in Spain today. I'll quote:
-quote-The explanation for corruption in Spain, just like in other countries, lies in human nature. Many people are greedy. When the political system gives room to it, they try to make use of the situation. -end quote-
We hardly would question his words. He is a professor and yeah ...yeah... it sounds so obvious. My father already said it years ago, too.
Bingo: "Many people are greedy." A plain prejudice and opinion and nobody asks for the research and scientific evidence for this statement. 
But in this project it is our main goal to question this opinion about man seriously, 
for a conclusion deduced from this opinion easily could be, that altruism is an aberration. Ayn Rand came to this conclusion, for instance.
Let's put the greed-axiom in another perspective.
The primordial emotion of man is FEAR, not greed, Fear for dangerous animals, enemies, accidents and illness, pain, starvation, losing something, the unknown, darkness...just name it.
It is a brilliant emotion in helping to survive. This emotion has been with man since the beginnings of time and we share the emotion with many other organisms, if not all.
From this observation you may conclude, that a lot if not all actions of man are focused on undoing the fear,
In other words, we'll do everything to achieve certainty and safety of the prolongation of our existence.

Thence I disagree with Paul Preston. Greed is not an element of human nature, but a possible behavioral consequence of human nature,
which is dominated by existential fear. Because it. is existential we can't get rid of fear, but it is very wel possible to change behavior, which we qualify as greed.
Thank you for your attention.......

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019

The Discussion

[ [13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:24] herman Bergson: Take your time to think tis over ^_^
[13:26] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): is greed caused by fear?
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): was also thinking that
[13:26] herman Bergson: Maybe...but look at it like this.....
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): are they related?
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): related
[13:26] herman Bergson: as a caveman you fear you collect as much food as you can.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: and there is an other aspect.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: Gathering possessions , getting rich also means of power......
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: it reduces the fear for enemies for instance
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:28] herman Bergson: If you threaten me I can buy an army to attack don't
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): can we say that this behavior is "natural "?
[13:28] herman Bergson: Fear is definitely a basic natural behavior
[13:29] CB Axel: But is greed a natural reaction to fear?
[13:29] herman Bergson: the term 'greed' is a value judgement about certain behavior
[13:29] herman Bergson: fear is a biological quality....
[13:29] herman Bergson: that leads to certain behavior
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): greed is taking as much as u can with no care for others
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): all for yourself
[13:30] herman Bergson: but calling that behavior "greed" is a culturally colored value judgement, I'd say
[13:30] CB Axel: I see. Fear leads to taking as much as possible and we call that taking "greed."
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): seems not really connected to fear unless you are desperate
[13:30] herman Bergson: Indeed CB.....
[13:31] CB Axel: No wonder so many conservatives amass as much wealth as possible.
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that can be one reason
[13:31] herman Bergson: But as a caveman it also could be called wise behavior ...because it helps you to survive a winter
[13:31] CB Axel: Conservatives tend to be more fearful than liberals.
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): however most do it nowadays because they think it gives them status I think¨
[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed CB
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita...another example of fear..... status saves you from a low position in society
[13:32] herman Bergson: We don't like it when people look down on us
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well thats true
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but I look down on the greedy ones
[13:33] CB Axel: So instead of calling rich people greedy assholes we should be calling the scared little chicken shits?
[13:33] herman Bergson: But you also must keep in mind that this behavior is already present  in our genes for tens of thousands of years...
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's just a feeling
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehehe cb
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): meybee
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone is online.
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): is a chicken shit scared?
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well, CB, I guess we have lost sight on the underlying cause  or roots of certain behavior....
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i never saw one be scared
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:35] CB Axel: Well, frightened people are called chicken...
[13:35] CB Axel shrugs
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ah ok
[13:36] herman Bergson: But my point today is that you should analyse all kinds of behavior from a perspective of the attempt to escape fear or pain....
[13:36] herman Bergson: a basic drive of almost any organism
[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes, even plants
[13:36] herman Bergson: Indeed Beertje
[13:37] CB Axel: But being generous is also a way to fight fear.
[13:37] CB Axel: If you're generous to others, they will be less likely to attack you.
[13:37] herman Bergson: True
[13:37] CB Axel: If you share with others when they're in need, they are more likely to help you out when you're down.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very true
[13:38] herman Bergson: And that makes homo sapiens a social animal
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): be nice and ill like you, simple
[13:38] CB Axel: Banding together and sharing assets helps everyone.
[13:38] herman Bergson: Altruism isn't an aberration...
[13:39] herman Bergson: you can see.....most people are OK :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: Also today ^_^
[13:39] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): even today:)
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): oops..
[13:40] CB Axel: But how do we convince conservatives that sharing will make them safer?
[13:40] herman Bergson: even today.....:-)
[13:40] herman Bergson: Good question, CB :-)
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:41] herman Bergson: fact we already have reached that to some extend......
[13:41] herman Bergson: By sharing the costs of a fire department we all are safer
[13:42] herman Bergson: the costs of schools.....
[13:42] CB Axel: Police, too.
[13:42] CB Axel: Garbage collection
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:42] CB Axel: water and power
[13:42] herman Bergson: so we already do a lot of sharing
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:43] herman Bergson: The problem is simply that conservatives don't see how socialist they are ^_^
[13:43] CB Axel: That has been pointed out to conservatives, but they ignore it.
[13:43] herman Bergson: or actually....what a nonsense word "socialism" is in this modern context
[13:44] CB Axel: We need a word that isn't as feared as socialism.
[13:44] herman Bergson: Maybe there is another fear active here :-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: We love to think in terms of WE and THEM......
[13:44] CB Axel: Yes. The fear that one's money will be taken in taxes to help others.
[13:45] herman Bergson: So, conservatives become WE by ignoring what THEY say :-)
[13:45] herman Bergson: and visa versa I assume :-)
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's a matter of listening to each other i guess
[13:46] herman Bergson: Indeed Beertje.....
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that's a hard thing to do most of the times
[13:46] herman Bergson: and when you look at our society, we yet have come a good way....
[13:47] herman Bergson: We have schools, fire departments, hospitals, police.....
[13:47] herman Bergson: It isn't perfect....still work to do......but yet
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): still we have to do some social work
[13:49] herman Bergson: We have Amnesty International, Greenpeace...all kinds of charity NGOs.....
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:50] herman Bergson: The media often emphasize the bad side or reality......but do they show the real picture?
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe it's real...but there is missing a lot
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's just one side of the coin
[13:51] herman Bergson: Yes
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the bad side
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sells more
[13:52] herman Bergson: Indeed Bejiita :-)
[13:52] CB Axel: And that's because people want to think everyone else is bad.
[13:52] CB Axel: Bad news feeds the biases they already have.
[13:52] herman Bergson: So let's end our dicussion today with an optimistic feeling :-)
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you all again for your participation :-))
[13:54] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice again Herman
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:54] CB Axel: See you all Thursday!
[13:54] CB Axel: Bye.
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu around
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Bejiita
[13:54] herman Bergson: See you on Thursday ...same time



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