Debate: Is Human Nature Inherently Good Or Evil? page 2 (locked)

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Originally posted by jjuanksta:


Where do we draw the line between responsibility and the excuse, “my genes made me do it”?
And by no means take what I’m saying as a personal attack, I merely want understanding.

Genetic impulse is what you want to do; responsibility concerns the methodology of indoctrinated practice. That nagging sensation in the back of your conscience is what prevents you from everything that you want to do. Nonetheless, those urges do remain, in the chaotic whitenoise of the background apprehension. What you think is the brainchild of chemical reactions whereas the actualization of those feelings is the case for responsibility or lackof thereof.

I’ll let vika handle the rest.

EDIT: Rather tired, so I won’t go to the trouble of fully amending the start of this dispute, but I will attempt to mitigate the distortion of my charge. I didn’t intend to connote that we absolutely have no say in matters of personal responsibility nor that we are truly absolved of civil obligation, as I denied in the aforementioned posts. I was stating that the crux of our desires is at the fingertips of a subconscious process. Metaphorical bombast has yet again betrayed and belied the elegance of its poetic license. My composure is the innuendo of flickering flames, but it shall have to enlighten the room.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:

That is an interesting theory. For the sake of better understanding where you are coming from, if you do not believe there is evil, do you believe in the existence of “good”?

Only to the same extent ‘evil’ exists – it is a completely subjective measurement. What is ‘good’ to one group, may very well be ‘evil’ to another. They are labels we apply that are relative to our own point of view only.

What do you mean by “society”?

The system of laws and governance an individual chooses to live under. there are so many countries in existence, and societies within countries but apart from them, that it has to be a choice. If you don’t like the way the society – the system around you – works, you are free to uproot and move to another one.

What authority does a “society” over the individual to be able to punish them for doing something “undesirable”? where does this authority come from?

Depends on the society. For some it comes from the texts the society follows. For others it comes from the collective will of the people in general. For still others it comes from the leadership put in place by the people in general to govern them and make laws on their behalf.

For those interacting with members off this society, affecting them, laws are put in -place to be followed. If those laws are broken, the society as a collective has the authority to inflict punishment according to the system of governance it uses.

Where do we draw the line between responsibility and the excuse, “my genes made me do it”?

Irrelevant.

Your genes are unlikely to ‘make’ you do anything from a thought or action point of view. They may predispose you to a certain path yes, but ultimately your brain chooses to act on that predisposition whether or not you yourself actually do.

If in a freak case it is the genes, then gene therapy can be used to turn those specific gene sequences off.

In all other cases, the mind can be reconditioned away from that response cycle. After all, it is remarkably plastic – extremely flexable and capable of self-restructuring.

Do you believe the assertions and statements you made and answers to the above questions are all absolutely true?

To the extent of my knowledge of the science of group psychology and my knowledge of neurocomputation and neuroanatomy, yes. In particular, my knowledge of the last two, is extremely close to the bleeding edge for the scientific knowledge we have on the subject (and in a few cases, actually overlaps it).

I don’t debate too heavilly into philosophy unless we’re looking at future trends. My strength tends to come from the science. Knowing how things work, and why they work that way, I find tends to be more productive than aimless wandering about how they might work based on philosophy alone. Using the science as the foundation and go from there, rather than using the philosophy as a foundation and trying to make the science fit.

Side note: It would be fascinating to compare the Nature Vs. Nurture and to what extent those play a role in the mind as far as decisions and morality go.

Nature doesn’t play a great part. When you are born your brain is pretty much a blank slate. The autonomic systems are in place, as are the ‘memory circuits’ if you will, sensory systems are in place but we haven’t learnt how to use most of them yet. Control over our locomotive systems is poor at best, and the ‘hard drive’ is blank.

Memories and the associated actions to take with events that bear a similarity to them, form throughout nurture. For the first 35 years of life, the brain is still developing new structures, yes, but these structures deal with how information is processed. They do not create the associations themselves. Only nurture can do that.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:

If you openly accept that there really is no absolute moral law and that our actions are just chemical reactions inside of us that are unchangeable

If you accept those things, you’ve made a change to the electrochemical reactions going on inside of you.

In other news, I’m getting tired of hearing about that sort of fatalism. And I don’t even hear about it that often.

Originally posted by jjuanksta:

[…] he had no choice because it’s what the chemicals in his body made him do.

Equivalent ways of phrasing that sentence:

“The chemicals in his body had no choice because it’s what he made the chemicals in his body do.”
“The chemicals in his body had no choice because it’s what the chemicals in his body made the chemicals in his body do.”
“He had no choice because it’s what he made himself do.”

People aren’t just impartial observers, cut off from reality, sitting back and watching chemicals make decisions. They are in the thick of things: they are the chemicals that make decisions.

 
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I missed this when I answered before. This argument addressed to simeng, I’ll tackle.

Originally posted by jjuanksta:

Care to support your statement that thinking is a controlled flourishing chemical reaction? I disagree. In Newsweek recently there was an interview with a Harvard scientist with the same view as you… until he died temporarily until he was brought back with a defibrillator. Clinically dead, and yet he had visions and was conscience and aware while in a coma. J.P. Moreland, and even several Atheist believe and argue convincingly that there is an immaterial part of us, and thus your assertion that thinking is strictly a controlled flourishing of chemical reactions is highly contested.

I’m glad it is ‘highly contested’ because it happens to be untrue. Our neurology is electrochemical in nature. What does this mean? Well, put simply, it means there are two different types of processes going on, that heavilly interact and reinforce one another.

There is a chemical exchange going on between the dendrites (of both neurons and gila cells). However that is only half the process. There is also an electrical exchange going on, with ions travelling up the axons and extremely complex electrical interactions spanning multiple frequencies taking place between the dendrites.

The brain does actually produce a highly complex, multilayered electromagnetic field. It’s what EEG picks up on – the brainwaves eminating from the brain, corresponding to what the brain is actually doing at that moment. The skull actually blocks a lot of it out. If we perform an EEG under the skull on or above the surface of the brain (an ECoG interface) the signal is over an order of magnitude stronger.

So yes, an ‘immaterial’ part of us has been known to exist for some time, and is increasingly being interfaced with. Most BMI devices (Brain Machine Integration) tap into the electrical signals, not the chemical. All neuroprosthetics including DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) devices certainly tap solely into the electrical fields.

If a soul does exist, we’re far more likely to find it in the electrical aspects than the chemical.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:

Secondly, you admit relativism is an imposition of self-forfeiture, so my question for you sir is weather you believe in absolute truth?
Because truth and morality are inter-connected.
If there is no truth, then what is good or evil is undecipherable because we have no standard to measure it by.
However if there is absolute truth, than it can be used as a standard by which to measure morality.
The argument evolves here to what is the source of truth?
You cannot separate Truth and morality because they are interconnected.
For example If it is absolutely true that it is wrong to molest children and beat them, then an offender is clearly committing an act of “evil”
The offender has gone against what is true, and thus is the guilty party.
Broken down if absolute truth exists then: truth is good and non-truth is evil by definition.
It is purely an epistemological argument because morality is based on epistemology.

No, the standard of good does not lie in the essence of epistemology. Rather, I consider the good to be that which benefits the most people at the least expense and evil, conversely, to be the alternative that leaves the nations bereft and bankrupt, without an ounce of dilatory recovery. The balance of product and cause, constituting the scale of judgement, is the anvil upon which to lower the lawful hammer and litigate a solemn decree. In here, I judge benefit and loss as objective states of chemical reaction. If something causes a generally positive state of chemical reaction, it is good and vice versa. So, it would seem that what is `Good`and what is `Bad`is determined by the effects if its utility, as juxtaposed and contrasted by the grindstone of the other possibilities, whereas the philosophical principles of epistemology only tend to the fostering of a secondary analysis. If something benefits me, then I can say it is `Good`and if something hurts me, then I can say it is `Bad`. Even if the evil is justified, it comes as no surprise that it is not something that can be attributed to `Good`. The crown of thorns to which I delegate the nestling of ideation is that the twin cofactors of `Good`and `Bad`, although philosophically defined, are simplistic creatures at most and do not conjure the confusion you seem to allude to – they are two sides of the same coin. Nonetheless, I concede that one is required to uphold an objective edifice of identification – one of scientific method. All of this senseless bickering is driving us ever further from the fountain of understanding up yonder stream; we need to turn tails and head for another solution than mere philosophy. The vehicle of establishment is rather the objective means of statistical allocation and collective consummation. For example, if I give you X dollars and you take it to a bank, and, at the end of 20 years, we split the riches in a fair referendum, then we both gain something, although I also lose something in return.

I think that relativism (postmodernism) is wrong. However, they are not all backwards. There is a hint of truth to what they say. What you detract and what you admit are dependent on your school of philosophical reflection; should I adhere to utilitarianism or deontology? What about hedonism, when it is in conflict with altruism? The list stretches to the ends of the earth and then follows a recursive trail, wrapping many times over before the roll arrives at a standstill. The problem is that all these schools of thought are internally justified, but some of them are also in conflict with one another. Then, some are rendered inapplicable due to external incompatibility. We have need to establish a coherent and overlapping masterkey that will link all these branches together, lest the grand tree split of a fissure, owing to excessive strain of its overhanging traces.

Not everything is relative, but one can draw different conclusions from a closed loop of axiomatized premises.

If one’s school of thought regards the eating of children as good and promotes it whereas another goes the contrary layout, then both are, in some sense, correct. No, I think that the objective of the two philosophies is the same – to achieve the greatest good. On the other hand, good is a matter of what is greatest for a certain populace over that of another – the tug-of-war paradigm. One party has to lose something in order for profit to be made. I think it its the misidentification of these localities that causes protests among the council of thinkers. The issue is not that one is morally corrupt or wretchedly benighted, but rather that some have misplaced their priorities while others have been dumbfounded altogether, having lost or forgone their methods of categorizing and classifying. That is how society, in its fundamentals, works as a productive machine. The differences corner us in times of distress, but in the world, even that of metaphysics, there is much sophistication and, at times, sophistry as well.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:


Where do we draw the line between responsibility and the excuse, “my genes made me do it”?

This comes from the belief that there needs to be a line. Even though thats not the case. I will use some examples to showcase how its possible to not draw the line between the two.

1. I own a dog and it bites someone. Now this dog never bit anyone before and i never did anything to encourage such behavior. Still I am held responsible for the actions of the dog and might have to pay for damages the person bitten suffered.

2. I own a car. While i am driving a part of the car breaks, causing it to crash and damage other people and/or their property. Unless i can make someone else responsible for the breaking of the car, i will be held liable for the damages caused by the car accident to other people and their property.

As such the fact that people and their choices are just links in causation chains, that they where caused by other links/chains which themselves where also caused by other links and chains an ultimately endless line of chains, does not mean that we can not assign a link in such a chain responsibility for anything. It just means that the common reasoning its responsible because its because its the free=first cause is false.
The actual incentives for holding someone responsible and rewarding or punishing them remain and make a pretty long list. For example personal satisfaction(pride and revenge), making an example for others to follow or not follow, reinforcing or dissuading the behavior they are awarded/punished for, or just removing or increasing their ability to continue their behavior.

 
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Human nature is inherently niether good or evil but neutral. A simple explanation is; everyone is neutral until they make a decision to do good or bad. Everyone is different.

 
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There will always be evil, but there will always be good. There will always be more good than evil.

 
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Evil; the malicious intent of destroying another persons livelihood. This could perhaps be simplified as “super-competition.”

Good; The wish to provide benefit to yourself, or perhaps also others, and not destroy more livelihood than you create. (IE; War is to benefit a “greater good” than the “evil” it deals; this can clearly be, and is, controlled by an objective viewpoint.)

Perhaps anyone would steal if they could get away with it without consequence or fear of a “God.” Evil is an inherent thing in humanity.

 
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What is good for one is bad for another.
If such a thing as (general) ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (the same for everyone*) is possible,
everything* is developing towards ‘good’ (though very slowly’)

*not just humans, but everything the concept of good/evil (do want/do not want) matters to, like animals, plants, parts of them (leaves, cells..), groups of them, souls, spirits, ideas, thoughts, feelings..

In the world they (we) all share with each other at least. (reality)
Everything has to reduce itself to fit greater good there.
The rest will remain banned to their own (dream) worlds.
Or limited to the worlds of similar entities, where they cannot harm each other seriously.

Everything exists, and you can learn to ‘travel to’ (or create, if playing god is your thing) the worlds youre most content in. (by changing your viewpoint/definition of yourself*)
You cannot totally escape reality though. (the always changing and dying shared world)
- seems like we’re not supposed to exclude anything for too long..

but whatever.. just some thoughts of my confused mind

*maybe finding the ‘best’ one is the whole point

 
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How does self sacrifice play a role in evolution? What motivates a person to risk their lives to save the life of a complete stranger. What about giving a burger to a homeless person you will never see again, or helping an old lady across the street.

How do we account for self sacrifices, big and small, especially when they go unnoticed and unrewarded?

 
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You’re right. Evolution must be a lie.

 
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Human Nature is little about biological evolution, the body – even the universe nothing but a machine. Life as a whole is eternal and good. Death, evil, everything else is temporary.
So there’s nothing to worry about :)

 
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Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

You’re right. Evolution must be a lie.

I’m not debating the undeniable evidence of evolution. Why are you so keen to project an ignorant and negative stereotype on me?

I am however suggesting that there are human qualities that go beyond our genetic programming.

 
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Originally posted by Azolf:

I am however suggesting that there are human qualities that go beyond our genetic programming.

Even those, are fundamentally based upon it.

There are benefits evolutionarily speaking, in traits that help the community around you grow and prosper, when you are a member of a species that lives in communities as opposed to solitary existence.

 
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How does self sacrifice play a role in evolution? What motivates a person to risk their lives to save the life of a complete stranger. What about giving a burger to a homeless person you will never see again, or helping an old lady across the street.
How do we account for self sacrifices, big and small, especially when they go unnoticed and unrewarded?

Well, group dynamics would be the first answer. Is fostering a tribe beneficial to survival? Then it stands to reason that such would be inherited. It need not be applicable to ever single example, but as a process at large.

My caveat would be that we have eclipsed evolutionary models. What determines survival and fitness have been drastically altered in the wake of our power. I would suggest that even if tribal behavior was an inherited survival trait that does not mean it is still doing us any good right now.

Anywho. We see group over individual priorities all throughout the animal kingdom – it seems dishonest to give that “divine grace” laurels when we consider it in ourselves, but see it as simple instincts in other species.

 
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It was meant to be good, but when sin entered the world it became bad, that’s why Jesus came to rescue us from our sins. So the point is that human nature can be perfected, but we choose not to do that because we are too easily pleased by our own desires and it leads us thinking about dumb questions such as that one.

 
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Originally posted by XxsamuroxX:

So the point is that human nature can be perfected, but we choose not to do that because we are too easily pleased by our own desires and it leads us thinking about dumb questions such as that one.

First strike.
I didn’t choose anything about my nature. If God made us that way he is the one responsible for us being evil.
Also, you would have to prove:

  • that there is a perfect human nature (good luck with that)
  • that human nature is inherently evil due to us not choosing to be perfect (whatever that is supposed to mean)
  • basically also that Jesus was in fact the son of God
  • basically also that he tried to rescue us from our sins
  • basically also that God exists and that he is the way you think he is.

So how many strikes does this make?
Enough to send you out.

 
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I’ll go for both.

Borrowing and paraphrasing from part of what I consider scripture there have to be opposites and part of being living beings is being enticed by both. Both appear desirable to us in different ways so that we can choose who we become and how much of joy or misery we want. There is enough evil in our natures that we can be accurately described as enemies to God unless and until we allow ourselves to be transformed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we have enough of good in us to also desire that healing and redemption, so that we repent and make use of the His invitation to come and be perfected in Christ.

 
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Mostly good and neutral. The reason why basic human nature is mostly good is because we are hardwired with a little cause and effect system, which prevents or impedes people from being evil due to the knowledge that someone stronger than them or a group of people can easily inflict harm if they commit evil, thus people are naturally good to avoid the punishment of evil. Still not being evil in the end. Some people also have a ridiculous amount of guilt over any crime, and thus do good becuase they would feel too bad if they were evil. Is also ‘To the eye of the beholder’, as some people honestly believe they are being good by being a serial killer killer, as they are in fact saving numerous innocent lives at the cost of criminal lives; or robbing Corruption Co.‘s bank to pay for an orphanage, which while it IS still theft, the robber isn’t going to take more than s/he needs to pay for the orphanage, and the megacorp will quickly regain what they lost through buisness, while the orphange will be able to hold it’s own.

Neutral in that they just mind their own buisness and don’t want to deal with doing anything that they have to go out of the way for. It’s cruel to the eyes of some, but they aren’t actually commiting evil, so they can’t really be called ‘evil’, but are definately not ‘good’ either. Also due to fear of fighting evil since that will land them into trouble.

The only ‘evil’ people are people with an overblown sense of pride and thus believe they are better than everyone else, or are downright sociopathic or psychopathic and just don’t care if people’s lives are ruined or destroyed.

 
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There is no such thing as ‘human nature’, all behavior is learned.

 
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Originally posted by jim_vierling:

There is no such thing as ‘human nature’, all behavior is learned.

Well maybe not all all, just some all.

 
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Originally posted by jim_vierling:

There is no such thing as ‘human nature’, all behavior is learned.

*leans back far*
I’d like to see you prove that.

 
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By using the normative definitions of good and evil, humans are inherently evil.

The argument is that humans are inherently selfish. For example, babies fake their cries to get fed; babies push their friends or even siblings for toys; and babies get really loud whenever they don’t feel like it. And, the norms of our society thinks “selfishness” as evil, so it’s it.

 
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Originally posted by EPR89:
Originally posted by jim_vierling:

There is no such thing as ‘human nature’, all behavior is learned.

*leans back far*
I’d like to see you prove that.

What did you know how to do at birth?