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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Weekly choice, by peers

Passionless Sex – The American Ideal

A short post reviewing the latest films about sex with the omission of love.

“Americans don’t like dirty sex, to judge from recent popular films about sex. So why are French women so sexual, if you believe French cinema. In French films, people have affairs, cheat on their spouses, form passionate entanglements, and – for God’s sake – take their clothes off!”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201311/unmasking-asexuality/passionless-sex-the-american-ideal

ps

Masters-of-SexWhen it comes to Sex, there is a wonderful new series called Masters of Sex that inspired to give us the story of the beginning of the study of sex based on true life of William Masters and Virginia Johnson. As in any good show it also explores relationships. It is a fantastic exploration of human sexuallity, in a way that is honest and authentic, evocative and provocative mixed with good writing, excellent acting and fascinating subject matter.

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People Are More Moral in the Morning

Experts are alerting, please avoid making any life changing decisions in the afternoon, especially those with moral implications; you’re more likely to act immorally.

“The morning morality effect has notable implications for individuals and organizations, and it suggests that morally relevant tasks should be deliberately ordered throughout the day.”(Kouchaki & Smith, 2013)

http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/11/people-are-more-moral-in-the-morning.php

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Real Men Go to Sleep!

“Add it all up and roughly thirty percent of working Americans survive on less than six hours of unconscious rest a day. Unfortunately, a deeply embedded American cultural tradition dismisses sleep as a waste of time. As one corporate executive put it not long ago, Sleep is for sissies.”

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/real-men-go-to-sleep/

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Ted’s best for the week

Tempus fugit said the Romans many years ago, time flies, so stop procrastinating and make it count!  Meg Jay, clinical psychologist, tries to create a sense of urgency for twenty somethings so they won’t end up in their 30’s feeling like they wasted the past ten years of their lives. Nevertheless, if you are twenty, thirty or sixty, this is wonderful talk with a decisive inspiration to all ages.

20s decade

“Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital…  Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20.htm

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Person of the week, Stephen Hawking!

Stephen William Hawking was born in England on January 8th, 1942. Today, in the age of almost 72 years old, he is probably one of the most known man alive (right there with Maradona). No doubt he is one of the most intelligent men of his time, yet what is most inspirational about him, is that he didn’t let his physical condition keeping him from excelling in his field. Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general.