June 22, 2011
This is Diogo commenting on an earlier post. His comments are intelligent and most welcome. In fact, I like putting up comments as full fledged posts.
Here is the comment -
I think it would be rather important that Mr. Wallace could read some of the works of Frans de Waal, or even Daniel Goleman. What’s interesting in Frans de Waal, a primatologist, is his experiences with bonobos, considered our greatest ancestors, along with the chimpazes. And while chimpazes are more, let’s say, self centered and violent, bonobos are much more social, being called by Frans de Waal the “make love, not war” primates. Another argument of paramount importance is the kind of conclusions that we can learn from neuroscience, where in some experiments showed that when we feel emphaty there’s an old area from our brain that makes a “click”. Another argument used by Daniel Goleman is that, and concerning the traffic example, when we deal with these kind of situations we are just centered on our goal: getting home. So it is usually a question of focus, rather than genetic.
What leads us to this: our empathy, moral, is a human thing, and that argument of self-centered and selfish individuals is just used to brainwash our society and, yes, is just used to “justify cruel and immoral policies and actions”. I totally agree on that. In fact, Margaret Tatcher and Ronald Reagan took great advantage of this misleading arguments to transform society in a jailed space where the more selfish you are, the strongest you’ll be.
The works of these 2 guys are really worth reading, beacuse they go straight to the point! To our past!
Long live to science!
May 18, 2011
I found this an interesting review with many references to morality. Take this quote below -
Everyone agrees that The Pale King enshrines boredom. What has been glossed over, however, is how fiercely and unrepentantly American these pages are. Yes, the book expounds upon the marvels of boredom and the “heroic” nature of doing a quiet but necessary task without audience or recognition, but juxtaposed are endless descriptions of bureaucracies, American culture at its most dysfunctional, and even extended Platonian dialogues about the decline of American society, complete with terms that never fail to surface in today’s news: “liberal individualism,” “corporations,” “conservatives,” “founding fathers,” “consumer capitalism,” etc. “Americans are crazy,” one character remarks to another: “We infantilize ourselves. We don’t think of ourselves as citizens—parts of something larger to which we have profound responsibilities. We think of ourselves as citizens when it comes to our rights but not our responsibilities.” The selfishness described here again harkens back to Wallace’s speech, in which he revealed that our “natural, hardwired default setting” is to be “deeply and literally self-centered.”
If the reference is to our ethical and moral responsibility, I quite agree. However, the “hard wired” setting to be deeply and literally self centered, is ridiculous, we are just as hard wired to be cooperative and self sacrificing. That being deeply and literally self centered is an American doctrine used to justify cruel and immoral policies and actions. If humans are self centered monsters salivating after every last moment of pleasure and every conceivable possession, than we can justify every kind of lie and cruelty in the name of social control.
Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the review and I would like you to read it.
My thanks to Patrick Nathan
via Patrick Nathan