• Proximate1
    24
    People at birth are inherently good.
    Chloé Zhao
    This is a current meme by the director of the film Nomadland.
    I would contend that at birth there are no moral inclinations. What ever our moral values become are a result of environment and personal development- of which a newborn has little. Quips like the one above are hopeless underthought and better seen as a mechanism to garner a 'feelgood' vibe for the author. Right or wrong?
  • James Riley
    765
    When I look upon a blob of clay, I see good; not because I see potential for it to be molded into something good (for it could just as well be molded into something bad) but because a blob of clay is good in and of itself, regardless of what we do to it, or what it might become later. Man is not the measure of all things.
  • Proximate1
    24
    Isn't the concept of 'good' a judgement inherent to the observer? The starving cat finds its encounter with the mouse to be 'good', the mouse has reason to see things otherwise.
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    People at birth are inherently good.
    Chloé Zhao
    Proximate1
    Yeah, maybe; but at which "birth"...
    And "good" – for what? to whom?
    Ms. Zhao's (congrats, btw! :clap:) statement is just as ambiguous (as most versions of) "the golden rule". All that can be said factually about people at any stage of life is that 'we're all suffers dependent on one another as suffers for brief respites from suffering'.
  • Apollodorus
    531
    Isn't the concept of 'good' a judgement inherent to the observer?Proximate1

    That may be so. However, it doesn't mean that "at birth there are no moral inclinations". A new-born lion cub may look cute and cuddly and inclined to do only good, but deep inside it may already dream of the day it is big and strong enough to have you for breakfast. The inclinations may be already present at birth in latent form.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    I would contend that at birth there are no moral inclinations. What ever our moral values become are a result of environment and personal development- of which a newborn has little.Proximate1

    That may be so. However, it doesn't mean that "at birth there are no moral inclinations". A new-born lion cub may look cute and cuddly and inclined to do only good, but deep inside it may already dream of the day it is big and strong enough to have you for breakfast. The inclinations may be already present at birth in latent form.Apollodorus

    There are studies that show that human children start making what we would call "moral" distinctions at a very early age - two or three months. Here's a link to an episode of 60 Minutes. It's about 13 minutes long with 2 minutes of ads. I've never seen a psychological study that impresses me or has influenced my views of human nature more. I always think of this when someone disparages psychology as a science. What could be more important than this?

    https://www.cbs.com/shows/60_minutes/video/msGw1iFHLOXlVdeZtfO9KBW9Kffq3VUl/born-good-babies-help-unlock-the-origins-of-morality/
  • Apollodorus
    531
    There are studies that show that human children start making what we would call "moral" distinctions at a very early age - two or three months.T Clark

    Correct. And this would suggest that moral inclinations are present at birth in some latent form. Thanks for the link.
  • Proximate1
    24

    There may be hard wired inclinations for sure- but the eating me part is my interpretation of 'good', the lion is just being a lion.
  • Proximate1
    24
    Ah, yes the deeper insight thing. Language can lead to many (mis)interpretations. Unless we know the rules of the game and agree to the field of play we are just having a pick-up game in the park. I am more interested in the meme and its widespread appeal amid the hazy meaning that can be so derived. These rhetorical statements by media leaders have been known to morph in many directions.
  • Proximate1
    24
    So they are developmental traits. It is totally possible to derail what could be through neglect or abuse in those formative weeks- maybe this is an opportunity to act before we put mom in a taxi and send her on her way with baby,
  • Apollodorus
    531
    There may be hard wired inclinations for sure- but the eating me part is my interpretation of 'good', the lion is just being a lion.Proximate1

    If an agent's actions affect somebody else, then the person or creature at the receiving end is entitled to make a moral judgement in regard to those actions. If a lion decided to eat me, I wouldn't be inclined to see that as "good". I don't care if it's in the lion's nature to eat people. That's why some animals are generally regarded as pests i.e. "bad" for you.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    People at birth are inherently good.Proximate1

    Haha. I read the title as inherently "good at birth." Like Octomom, who gave birth to octuplets.

    I think this is the old philosophical question of whether we're all born innocent and corrupted by the world; or if some people pop out fully evil. Like The Bad Seed.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    Right or wrong?Proximate1

    I just listened to a street preacher earier today. He INSISTED that we are horrible creatures when we get born, and we are sinners, and never get rid of that rap.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    I don't care if it's in the lion's nature to eat people. That's why some animals are generally regarded as pests i.e. "bad" for you.Apollodorus

    Right.

    Tapeworms and polio bacili are seldom referred to a cuddly little creatures. I have yet to see a four-year-old girl who loves her blonde, blue-eyed, fashionable looking thing from the movie "Alien".
  • Apollodorus
    531
    Tapeworms and polio bacili are seldom referred to a cuddly little creatures.god must be atheist

    That's what I'm saying. Bat viruses like Covid-19 may or may not have evil intentions at birth, but what if they develop some later or if someone releases them on the world as a form of biological weapon?
  • Outlander
    1.1k
    When I look upon a blob of clay, I see good; not because I see potential for it to be molded into something good (for it could just as well be molded into something bad) but because a blob of clay is good in and of itself, regardless of what we do to it, or what it might become later. Man is not the measure of all things.James Riley

    This is a good analogy. Hm, what to add? I suppose based on the savage and chaotic environment in which we live (violent collisions of rock and dust creating planets, among other things), perhaps those who remain good are in fact excellent and those who turn bad aren't completely terrible. Hard to say. Depending on whose grave you stand on to speak, of course.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.3k
    polio baciligod must be atheist

    Polio is caused by a virus, not a bacilli. Not much good about it, and it has almost been stamped out. Tapeworms, on the other hand, have one benefit: people who have severe allergies suffer less if they have tapeworms, because the worms suppress the immune reaction--to protect their wormy selves.

    Not sure that I would sign up for worm therapy if I had bad allergies.

    23
    People at birth are inherently good.
    Chloé Zhao
    This is a current meme by the director of the film Nomadland.
    Proximate1

    It isn't like Ms. Zhao is the first one to have that thought -- the goodness of the new-born has been a topic of much discussion for a long time.

    We are so constituted that there probably IS a moral inclination at birth -- not a preference for moral vs. immoral, but rather a brain structure (and species habit) that will lead to people having fear, guilt, and comfort connected to their behavior. How does this work?

    Young children depend on caregivers. Caregivers reward good behavior and punish bad behavior (however good and bad are defined, and however you think of reward and punishment). Where are fear, guilt, and comfort situated? In the limbic system. Where is the part of the brain that tries to please caregivers? It's in the frontal cortex. There are (normally) strong neural connections between the two parts. As the child develops, the rules and regulations, fear, guilt, comfort, and joy are internalized. The person will tend to behave morally ever after. Perfect system? No -- good people can manage to do bad things.

    The worst outcome for this system is when the connections between the frontal cortex and limbic system fail to develop. The result is a psychopathic person who doesn't feel much guilt or joy, and has no internalized moral code.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    When I look upon a blob of clay, I see good; not because I see potential for it to be molded into something good (for it could just as well be molded into something bad) but because a blob of clay is good in and of itself, regardless of what we do to it, or what it might become later. Man is not the measure of all things.James Riley

    By saying "good" of something, James Riley inadvertently made man the measure of all things.

    How one can shoot himself on the foot in one easy step.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    Polio is caused by a virus, not a bacilli.Bitter Crank

    Polio is caused by a bacilus that carries the polio virus and gets into a human's body.

    Joking. I stand corrected.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    We are so constituted that there probably IS a moral inclination at birth -- not a preference for moral vs. immoral, but rather a brain structure (and species habit) that will lead to people having fear, guilt, and comfort connected to their behavior. How does this work?Bitter Crank

    As I noted in a previous post on this thread, there is strong evidence that babies as young as three months can make clear choices that it makes sense to call "moral," and others that it makes sense to call "biased." I think that shows that human moral judgements are strongly built-in. That doesn't negate the importance of learning and socialization as children grow older.
  • James Riley
    765
    When I look upon a blob of clay, I see good; not because I see potential for it to be molded into something good (for it could just as well be molded into something bad) but because a blob of clay is good in and of itself, regardless of what we do to it, or what it might become later. Man is not the measure of all things.
    — James Riley

    By saying "good" of something, James Riley inadvertently made man the measure of all things.

    How one can shoot himself on the foot in one easy step.
    god must be atheist

    How can anyone's reasoning be so faulty? I did not make man the measure of all things when I said I found a blob of clay to be good. I am not the measure of all things, nor do I speak for All.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    How can anyone's reasoning be so faulty?James Riley

    You mean, "how can someone not agree with me?"

    By dividing ALL things into being good and not good, you give all things a measure of goodness or badness. And good and bad are qualities that are humano-centric; without humans (or equivalents) the terms "good" and "bad" would be meaningless.

    It's true that language itself also would not exist; but you use the language to translate your judgment of things (good or bad) into human-understood information. Language is a transfer element; the "good" and "bad" are primary judgments, the measure of man, and only of man.
  • James Riley
    765
    You mean, "how can someone not agree with me?"god must be atheist

    Another demonstration of your faulty reasoning is when you tell someone else what they meant.

    By dividing ALL things into being good and not good, you give all things a measure of goodness or badness.god must be atheist

    I did not divide ALL things into being good and not good.

    And good and bad are qualities that are humano-centric; without humans (or equivalents) the terms "good" and "bad" would be meaningless.god must be atheist

    First, good and bad are not qualities that are humano-centric. Second, to find "meaninglessness" is your subjective opinion. All may find an objective good or bad (or something else) in spite of us.

    It's true that language itself also would not exist; but you use the language to translate your judgment of things (good or bad) into human-understood information.god must be atheist

    My judgement is not the measure of all things. And my use of language to translate my judgement into human-understood information says nothing more than I am human. It does not make man the measure of all things. And being "human-understood" is not necessary to All.

    Language is a transfer element; the "good" and "bad" are primary judgments, the measure of man, and only of man.god must be atheist

    Other creatures have language and transfer judgements of good and bad all the time.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    I did not divide ALL things into being good and not good.James Riley

    Sorry, then I take back my post. Sorry.

    By attributing a quality to a blob of wet clay, honestly I thought it was symbolic of all dead matter. I mean, how could I not think that?

    Okay, I take it back. So you think a blob of clay is good.

    Would you say that a piece of driftwood is bad, or good? or an old piece of tv part lying on the side of the road is good or bad? I mean, if a clay could be judged for being good, I don't see how we can stop at not going on with this.

    But you say, that the buck stops at blobs of clay. Fine, I accept that. You don't put everything into good and bad piles of judgment. Fine. Just clay.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    I did not make man the measure of all things when I said I found a blob of clay to be good. I am not the measure of all things, nor do I speak for All.James Riley

    Whether I am the measure of all things, it is a fundamental assumption of my philosophy that humanity is. Basic units for measurement are at human scale. We measure things in feet, horses in hands. Of course, we measure power in horsepower, so maybe humanity and equinity are the measures of all things. If you don't believe in an absolute moral standards, as I don't, human value is a product of human thinking and feeling. As I noted in posts earlier today in another thread, established science indicates that humans develop a moral sense at a very early age, as early as three months. This indicates that, to a large extent, our moral thinking and behavior is inborn. Something similar is also true of language and maybe number.

    Beyond that, it makes sense to me that our understanding of the world, reality itself, is a function of our particular human nervous system and perceptual organs. I'm not ready to defend that position at this point.
  • James Riley
    765
    By attributing a quality to a blob of wet clay, honestly I thought it was symbolic of all dead matter.god must be atheist

    You were correct, it is, but my saying so says nothing more than my subjective opinion is human. It does not make man the measure of it simply because a man acts like a man. It is my philosophy that All perceives itself through All it's parts. That would make clay, wood, whatever All would have it be. Not us. Not man.

    But you say, that the buck stops at blobs of clay.god must be atheist

    There you go again, telling me what I say. LOL!

    "In the preoccupation with doing things as they should be done - which is morality - there is a line past which we begin to think that what is purely our whim or mania is necessary. We fall, therefore, into a new immorality, into the worst of all, which is a matter of not not knowing those very conditions without which things cannot be. This is mans supreme and devastating pride, which tends not to accept limits on his desires and supposes that reality lacks any structure of it's own which may be opposed to his will. This sin is the worst of all, so much so that the question of whether the content of that will is good or bad completely loses importance in the face of it. If you believe you can do whatever you like - even, for example, the supreme good, then you are, irretrievably a villain. The preoccupation with what should be is estimable only when respect for what is has been exhausted." J.O. yGassett
  • James Riley
    765
    Beyond that, it makes sense to me that our understanding of the world, reality itself, is a function of our particular human nervous system and perceptual organs.T Clark

    What I see in your entire post (correct me if I am wrong) is that humans are humans; that humans are stuck being human. I can agree with that. But that does not transmogrify us into the measure of all that we measure.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    You were correct, it is, but my saying so says nothing more than my subjective opinion is human. It does not make man the measure of it simply because a man acts like a man. It is my philosophy that All perceives itself through All it's parts. That would make clay, wood, whatever All would have it be. Not us. Not man.

    But you say, that the buck stops at blobs of clay.
    — god must be atheist

    There you go again, telling me what I say. LOL!
    James Riley
    Well, on one hand you said it is not all things that are dead matter that you judge, and on the other hand, you agree it is all things that are dead matter you judge.

    it is easy to refute my point, when you contradict yourself, because no matter which of the two-part contradiction
    - I attribute to you
    - I disprove,

    you will say (and HAVE said) that I am wrong in doing so, by drawing my attention to the opposing side of your contradictive claims.
  • Tom Storm
    967
    Beyond that, it makes sense to me that our understanding of the world, reality itself, is a function of our particular human nervous system and perceptual organs. I'm not ready to defend that position at this point.T Clark

    TC I have always held this as an intuitive belief. Humans think like humans for human reasons - the world and us is to some extent 'created' by our corporeal strengths and limitations.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.3k
    Just my not-overly-erudite opinion, but I think quite a bit of "us" is factory pre-installed--don't take offense, Ma, at the factory metaphor. Every other animal seems to have built-in behavior patterns, and I don't see a way that we would NOT have built ins.
  • James Riley
    765
    Well, on one hand you said it is not all things that are dead matter that you judge, and on the other hand, you agree it is all things that are dead matter you judge.god must be atheist

    Slow yourself down, and try thinking before posting. In referencing clay, I talked of nothing else (i.e. not all dead things). Then, in explaining how man is not the measure of all things, I referenced All as the measure of the rest, good or bad. My humanity is not the measure. And that would not only include clay or "all dead things" (I don't know where you pulled that language from) but also living things.

    it is easy to refute my pointgod must be atheist

    It is easy to refute your point when you set up straw men and try to impose your measure of me on me by telling me what I mean or think or say.

    that I am wrong in doing so, by drawing my attention to the opposing side of your contradictive claims.god must be atheist

    There's were you fall down. My claims are not contradictive.
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