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.

Weekly choice: a winner, orgasm and lost time

Is There a Gene for Winning Gold Medals?

“The 10,000-hour rule is the idea, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, that you can attain mastery in any field if you just devote 10,000 hours to it. Whether you want to be a chess grandmaster, the next Jimi Hendrix, or the next Tiger Woods, natural talent is basically irrelevant. All you need is 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. Unsurprisingly, it ain’t quite so simple. The rule does have its origins in some perfectly good research. But this research doesn’t show that anyone can master anything in 10,000 hours. For one thing, 10,000 hours is an average, and there’s a huge range of variation on either side of the average – enough that it’s misleading to say even that approximately 10,000 hours is what it takes. (…) But what exactly is talent? If we define it loosely as anything other than practice, then it includes a very wide range of factors. One of these factors is body type. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and some shapes and sizes are better for certain sports than others. Body type is so important that, according to Epstein, if we had a list of the heights and weights of all Olympic competitors, and even if we knew nothing else about them, we could correctly guess their events in almost every case.
Other Interesting Tidbits

The relative importance of nature vs. nurture varies from event to event. Football coaches say “You can’t train speed.” Epstein agrees. Slow children will never be fast adults. On the other hand, given six months, any healthy adult could probably train to run a marathon (albeit not in 2 hours and 10 minutes).

We tend to think of talent as something distinct from training, but that’s not the best way to construe it. According to Epstein, talent is about how rapidly training pays off within a given domain. Some people (like Donald Thomas) profit from training much more rapidly than others. Still, even with all the talent in the world, no one can reach the top rungs of the sporting ladder without training.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201402/your-best-performance-ever/the-gold-medal-gene?tr=HomeColItem

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Rationalism and Animal Ethics

“Firstly, we should note that most countries are still in some way opposed to a rational worldview. Even where I write from, in the UK, secularisation has gone from strength to strength and yet it would be right to label anti-theism a minority view. Many here see the problems with violent extremism, but not the links with faith or religion per se. So it is legitimate to raise concern that this cause is already enough on its own. (…) Suppose we lived in a different world: one where human beings were wired very differently and the pursuit of reason had very different effects. One doesn’t need to flesh out the details too succinctly as it is merely a thought experiment, but suppose that promoting reason and science in this strange world actually led directly to lower technological development, lower levels of education and increased violence. We might describe this world as one where human beings were negatively influenced by understanding: the more they know about anything, the less they care for everything.“

http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/2/13/rationalism-and-animal-ethics

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33 Powerful And Creative Print Ads That’ll Make You Look Twice

“Most ads out there are annoying, but given the amount of professionals working in the marketing and advertising industries, they’re bound to come up with something cool and creative sooner or later. We’ve searched the web and collected some of the most creative print ads we could find.

Some of them feature clever tongue-in-cheek jokes that make us laugh, others have clever puns that make us think, and some even make us react emotionally. The Crisis Relief ads especially excel at this last point. It’s nice of these companies to respect us by appealing to our intellect or sense of humor rather than simply trying to catch our attention with a simple low-cut neckline or flashy colors.

creative-print-ads-104

Most of these ads don’t just advertise the company or cause behind them, they also make an actual point. So if you don’t understand the angle at first, give it some time and think about it.”

http://www.boredpanda.com/creative-print-ads/?fb_action_ids=3999982174500&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B1419776121600902%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.likes%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

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Ted’s Best Of The Week! Mary Roach: 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm

“Freelance writer and humorist turned accidental science journalist Mary Roach likes to ask the questions we all wonder about but are usually too polite to mention. What happens after we die, anyway? How fast do cadavers rot? Can a corpse have an orgasm?

In her talk «10 things you didn’t know about orgasm», Roach digs deep into scientific research in sexuality — much of it recent, much of it ancient — and shares several hilarious and disturbing thoughts.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/mary_roach_10_things_you_didn_t_know_about_orgasm.html

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Writer Of The Week! Marcel Proust!

Proust is many things, but among them, he is a comic novelist, alert to the absurdity of human nature and behavior.

ProustValentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, critic, and essayist. His monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) is, to this day, an appreciated unique work of art. It is a seven-volume novel based on Proust’s life told psychologically and allegorically. Proust is many things, but chief among them, he is a comic novelist, alert to the absurdity of human nature and behavior, keenly aware of the deceptions we practice on ourselves as well as on others, alive to the discrepancies between appearance and reality. There is comedy in most great novelists – in Scott and Stendhal, Austen, Dickens and Dostoevsky; all had a sense of the absurd; all were capable of taking delight, sometimes scornful delight, in the comedy of hypocrisy.

As a young man, Proust began by writing parodies of his contemporaries, and the writing of parody is an act of comic criticism.

À la recherche made a decisive break with the 19th century realist and plot-driven novel, populated by people of action and people representing social and cultural groups or morals. Although parts of the novel could be read as an exploration of snobbism, deceit, jealousy and suffering and although it contains a multitude of realistic details, the focus is not on the development of a tight plot or of a coherent evolution but on a multiplicity of perspectives and on the formation of experience. The protagonists of the first volume (the narrator as a boy and Swann) are by the standards of 19th century novels, remarkably introspective and passive, nor do they trigger action from other leading characters; to contemporary readers, reared on Balzac, Hugo and Tolstoy, they would not function as centers of a plot. While there is an array of symbolism in the work, it is rarely defined through explicit “keys” leading to moral, romantic or philosophical ideas. The significance of what is happening is often placed within the memory or in the inner contemplation of what is described. This focus on the relationship between experience, memory and writing and the radical de-emphasizing of the outward plot, have become staples of the modern novel but were almost unheard of in 1913.

“The bonds between ourselves and another person exists only in our minds. Memory as it grows fainter loosens them, and notwithstanding the illusion by which we want to be duped and which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we dupe other people, we exist alone. Man is the creature who cannot escape from himself, who knows other people only in himself, and when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.”

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time