Morality? Nature, Nurture or Straight from That

There is a continuous and rigorous conversation that for some reason which remains obscure to my mind is still an issue even today, and that is the question of the origin of Morals, Ethics, Valor (I deliberately clutter them together because they are being used haphazardly sometimes without distinction). Many, if not all, religious people claim special ownership on them saying it has descended from their God or gods, usually claiming them as human only gifts. Agnostics try to avoid this question but when confronted seems to be sporadically ambiguous about the issue (many relate them to higher being and the more naturalistic agnostics say it is nature depending upon their level of traditionalism). As for atheists, it is clear that Morals and Ethics are a natural system; though even with some city dwellers non-believers, it seems there is a distinction between human and animals when it comes to this issue.

I´ve been an animal lover ever since I remember. Moreover, I found the animal kingdom to be fascinating and cultivating in a way that no school can ever be able to teach. While many teenagers go through rebellious crisis and rivalries with their kin primates, I found solace talking to our dog, cats, an occasional bird, hen, snakes, spiders and every other animal I came across. I learned from their instinctive innocence about interaction and life. The truth of the matter is that although it didn´t replace human interaction, it certainly helped me a great deal understanding them.

So far throughout different past posts I was briefly mentioning human behavior and moral substance through reconnecting with nature and our fellow creatures of the earth, but what about animals as our co-habitats on this shrinking planet? I´m still amazed when I hear someone questioning the existence of emotions, morals and ethics in non-human animals. I feel even worse than that day when I first learned about the 1550-1551 Controversia de Valladolid (Valladolid debate) where Spanish scholars and represents of the church debated for quite some time whether or not Indians have soul and should be recognized as human being or as evolved apes. How long will it take for today’s common knowledge to end this self-proclaimed distinction and to cease to be wrongfully pronounced and used as an excuse to inflict upon them variety of cruelties and absurdities? Elephants, Orcas, Dolphins, Chimpanzees, Dogs, Horses, Cows, are today´s Indians, facing the abnormal egocentrism and vanity of men.

Thus, I want to clarify, this post is about the question whether or not Moral is some incredible quality exclusively for humans. For that exact reason I decided to propose a collection of short videos for your entertainment, where, as explicitly shown, and let me blunt about it, the answer is simple: It is not!

Moral is a word, invented by men to convey an idea of social conduct. As any amateur viewer of National Geographic will tell you, one does not even have to go to the wild to see that most animals maintain these principles of conduct in the most natural way; in many occasions, even far better than humans. Perhaps by the technological complexity of our life, and probably because of the sheer number of our specie, humans need a constant reminder of what all large animals already know: that empathy, social bonding, altruism and interdependence are essential for survival (just read Dawkins The Selfish Gene or any distinguished biologist and it will all make sense).

Enough talk, nothing like a living image of reality to stress a point:

Elephants are certainly the highlight of recent animal understanding, unfortunately, this fact is probably because of their rapidly diminishing numbers. This majestic large animal is not only full of emotions and care but also quite a lot of brains. In this video, we see Kandula solving some difficulties. While you watch it, ponder on the fact that human intellect also began with the food incentive.

As for cooperation, watch this next experiment:

To read the full article about the elephant, click here.

Chimps are quite strong for their size. We call Just and kind a strong man that helps a kin that tent to appear more fragile. Yet what is exactly the sense of Justice?

Humans call Just to despicable things making philosophical reasoning for a ‘Just genocide’ and other atrocities. While all creature have a sense of interaction from within the specie, only humans use there one ability: reasoning, in the stupidest way. In stead of overcoming instinctive behavior, we use our brain to excuse it.

And how moral expressed in a sense of equality? Will you mind that your unfriendly coworker make more money than you even though you are doing the exact same work? I dare say that you won´t like it. What about our fellow primates:

Emotions

Who can deny mother’s pain, either of a human mother outliving her child, or of a milking cow, separated from her calf, and much worse is of an elephant in a matriarchal structured society.

Sure, those are all cherry picking videos and they might not even represent 50% of the animal tested and filmed, but hey, how many real altruist can you sincerely say you know?  The fact that even 1 exists is already more than enough to acknowledge that something in today’s discourse is still terribly wrong.

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