Are we born knowing things or are we a blank slate? Do we have a predisposition to be good or evil? Are there innate factors that influence our life's path? There's a long history of philosophical debate going back to Mengzi and Xunzi and many others. What about science? Can it shed any light on these questions? Let's explore these ideas together.
Mencius (c. 372—289 B.C.E.) Chinese Philosopher
Mengzi believed that the nature of man is good and that all human beings possess four senses that we are born with; Feeling of compassion, shame, respect, and the ability to approve and disapprove which he called sprouts.In the same way a garden is tended to make it flourish, the sprout of human virtue also needs to be cultivated to reach full fruition.
Mencius’s Thought Experiments
The child and the well example says that anyone who saw a child about to fall into a well would have a feeling of alarm and compassion. It's a gut reaction, instinctual. It's hard-wired and reveals the sprout of benevolence in human nature.
Xunzi (Hsün Tzu, c. 310—c. 220 B.C.E.) Chinese Philosopher
Xunzi believed that the nature of man is evil. Followqing its "natural" path, humans fall into contention and disorder. To counter this evil predisposition, rituals are needed to help foster an orderly society, the Confucius Way.
Both of these philosophers believed that nurturing was necessary. Mencius to further nurture the predisposition to be good and Xunzi to correct man's natural tendency to evil.
Scientific Studies on babies
fear of falling - visual cliff experiment
fear of loud noises - acoustic startle reflex
these fears are also innate in other mammals
humans also have an innate fear of spiders
Chomsky believed that our language ability is hard wired into our brain, another innate characteristic.
I wanted to include this but couldn't find the source, so, from memory. I found a lot of info on the warrior gene, possible the same thing but what was said in the video I can't find was more than a little interesting.
Some people have it and some don't but everyone who has it has two outcomes.
- If they face no trauma in their life, they are actually less aggressive than those that don't have the gene at all.
- If they do experience trauma, the aggressor gene kicks in and they become more aggressive and even violent.
Imagine the implications and how designing "men" could use this against us for their own purposes. If the above is true, they know it, just a peak down the rabbit hole.
I remember a scene from the movie, Ghostbusters, when the green slime of negative emotions was taking over the city. The bigger it got, the more negative everyone became and the more negative everyone got, the more it grew, it was self-perpetuating. An awesome weapon in the wrong hands. Create constant fear and other negative emotions, keep everyone at each other's throats while behind the scenes something not in our best interests is played out.
Our remedy is love. I know.. corny. "Only love can turn an enemy into a friend." MLK JR
Do you know of anything else that can. rhetorical.
Maybe we could kill 'em with kindness.. would love to see them squirm.
I'm officially off the reservation now, so.. :) The End.
Peace and Love to all.
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