[quote=“R. Daneel Olivaw”]Part of the contradictions we see in different human behavior comes from the existence of competing emotions- some learned and some most likely innate.
fear, self-preservation, a desire for power, a need to display manliness or compete, these all interfere with and affect our natural compassion. We generally turn off our compassion when our own well-being is threatened.[/quote]
Do women dispay manliness?
And how do you explain children who murder animals and other children? Those children have compassion but have turned it off? I should experiment with this in class.
Compassion seems to me to the the next LOGICAL step in human SOCIAL evolution…
Every human being is born different, with varying amounts of “innate” characteristics and abilities. Does a child with a natural talent for music have this because they learned it? Did Mozart learn music from his upbringing? No, he was born with a prodigous talent for it. Some kids are born with the natural ability to be great athletes, or to draw well, or to pick up languages quickly. These are “innate” abilities, but obviously need to be developed to maximise their full potential.
Likewise, certain people are born with predispositions towards certain emotions or emotive responses. No one baby will react in exactly the same manner to various stimuli as another will. Certain people are born with large, or conversely, small “amounts” of, for example, shyness, aggression, patience, impatience and compassion, amongst other things.
Of course, anyone can try to learn these things, but if your innate qualities are lacking/dominant in what you are trying to learn, it will be very dificult. For example, someone who is born with a short fuse will have a very difficult time controlling his temper in certain situations despite all society’s efforts to educate him otherwise. In the same way, someone born with very little compassion will obviously do things like kill/torture animals or other children without much remorse. Serial killers, almost without fail, being their “careers” as children, deriving pleasure from the torturing and killing of small animals. Have they been “educated” in this? Have they learned this behaviour from somewhere? They may have certainly been influenced by what they have seen/experienced, but all that does is reinforce and strengthen something that has most likely been within their nature since birth.
All the more reason to treat compassion as a learned ability, not an innate one, and commence teaching it.[/quote]Agreed. My mamma always said “I can not” is dead and his little brother is called “TRY.”
All I know is my Grandpa use to smash kittens’ heads with a hammer (when there were too many.) Castrate pigs while they were alive and things like that.
I’m sure his father did that too and so on and it got passed down. I think it’s almost impossible to judge how much compassion “the average” human has when born. Different cultured are going to start feeding a baby different ideas from day one (with books, talking, imagery, etc.), with some giving killing animals the thumbs up and some the thumbs down.
And why is it going out to the forest and shooting deer is sport, but scooter hunting dogs is “horrible and says something pretty sad about human beings?”
What difference does it make whether we’re born with it or not? Kids also cry when their mummy leaves, but that’s something that (I think) should be grown out of. Maybe liking furry cute things is something else that should be grown out of (assuming kids do like furry cute things.)
I also think most people from almost any culture would choose to save a drowning child if given the choice between a child and a cute puppy (in some made up situation.) Animals are a peg lower. We eat them, kick them, run tests on them, lock them up, domesticate them, are “their masters”, etc.
Forget animals. Humans still have trouble showing other humans the “correct” amount of compassion. Besides, whether it’s innate or not, it definitely needs to be nurtured.
Compassion and any other virtues are taught. A child can be selfish if taught this way, but can change towards betterment if taught another way.
People can change and become better in ALL aspects of human behavior.
[quote=“miltownkid”]All I know is my Grandpa use to smash kittens’ heads with a hammer (when there were too many.) Castrate pigs while they were alive and things like that.
I’m sure his father did that too and so on and it got passed down. I think it’s almost impossible to judge how much compassion “the average” human has when born. Different cultured are going to start feeding a baby different ideas from day one (with books, talking, imagery, etc.), with some giving killing animals the thumbs up and some the thumbs down.[/quote]
A roommate of mine a while back was born and raised in some backwoods hunting/fur trapping town in Canada. He has been a vegetarian since he moved out at the age of 18 (about 15 years it was, I think), saying that from an early age, he just couldn’t stand to see the carcasses, blood, death etc. His family made him eat meat until he moved out. It’s definitely not all nurture. If that was so, he’d be hunting right now I’m sure.
I don’t consider hunting “sport”, and neither do many people. The difference, whether one likes it or not, is that hunters (claim) that they give the animal a quick death, are contributing to conservation, and use the meat of the deer when they are done. I don’t agree with it at all, but you can see that it is justifiable to some. Kicking a dog whilst driving past it on a scooter achieves nothing, and is done purely for the enjoyment of inflicting pain on an animal which is in no way threatening your own life. When a person enjoys inflicting pain for the sake of it, isn’t it logical to assume that he’d eventually get bored of kicking dogs and want to move up to beating his wife, kids, whatever? Do you think that getting joy from inflicting pain is something positive??
That’s the OP and people are answering that question. If you don’t think it matters, why bother posting?
So you’re placing caring about animals on par with infantile mother-clinging urges? That it’s something that “should be grown out of”? For what purpose, exactly? Why is it childish to have compassion for other living creatures? According to Ghandi, “the moral progress of a nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals.” If you’d prefer that society have no moral progression whatsoever, and think that the world is in a fine and dandy state as it is, then perhaps you’re right. Don’t give two shits about any other creatures.
If you think that all of this is OK, just because “it’s the way it is”, “God gives us the right to do it”, “we’re stronger/smarter than them” or whatever justification you feel is best, then sorry pal but YOU SUCK. People have used this to justify all sorts of horrors and oppression throughout the centuries. Slavery, genocide, etc etc… were all justified and sanctioned by arguments such as these.
There is a great quote that I can’t remember exactly but goes along the lines of “if man cannot learn to treat animals with respect, how can ever learn to treat his fellow human beings with respect?”. It’s the first step. I hate it when people assume that anyone who cares about animals and has compassion for them therefore has no feelings towards fellow human beings. I completely disagree with your line of thinking. Surely, if we can learn to treat animals, these “lower beings” than us “mighty” humans, with the respect and dignity that they deserve, then surely all mistreatment of other humans, our brothers, would be utterly inconceivable.
Nurture compassion towards all living things, and we have the building blocks for a far better society.
I kind of just spouted off a bunch of “random” thoughts. I never stated where I stand (and rarely do.)
I personally think it’s a healthy combination of both nature and nurture (like most things related to this.) I think some people are born with a predisposition to be more compassionate (like your none beef eating friend above) and others were born to be stone cold killers. People with the I-don’t-like-blood-and-death could probably be nurtured to like it (even your friend above with the “right kind” of nurturing.) And people with the stone-cold-killer gene could probably be nurtured to like pink bunny rabbits.
My question about what difference does it make was meant to point out that even if we are born compassionate, what does that tell us? Are you saying that compassion is the “right” way? Are you saying that people who kick dogs for fun are wrong?
I’m sure many will answer yes to both of those questions. You wouldn’t catch me going either way (yes or no.) But I would not condone kicking dogs. I’d be dead set against it. Maybe if I saw that while having a bad day you’d find me kicking a human for fun.
Take a second to think about the most disgusting, revolting thing someone could do. Whatever came to mind, I don’t think it’s wrong (nor do I think it’s right.) But I do feel sorry about what ever happened or didn’t happen to that person to bring them to do something like that.
I enjoying discussing things like this. I guess I’m asking what happens when you find an/the answer (to the OPs question) and how does it help with dog kicking for fun reduction?
It would also be nice for someone to “Google up” these studies. I’d honestly like to learn more about this.
Note: Written in a hurry (like my other post) and still doesn’t feel right. Ah well. submits
Why is understanding whether compassion is nurture or nature (or in what combination of both) important?
I believe that goes to the heart of what the OP is after-- instilling compassion and courtesy in people.
If we can teach people to feel compassion for others, we should do so. But if compassion is not something that can be taught through behavioral psychology, but instead the focus needs to be on increasing awareness and reducing selfishness, then the approach to instructing them will be different.
More importantly, how do you explain it? Where do they learn this behavior?
I think trapjaw’s response did a good job explaining the general idea. Some people are born with more love of causing pain, more need to have power over others, etc.
They lack compassion, or perhaps the capacity to empathize with anyone or anything outside of their own organism. It’s possible that they possess compassion, and would be deeply compassionate for anyone or anything they manage to gain an understanding or love of.
I’d argue for social consciousness and awareness rather than compassion.
I have yet to find any articles that talk about infants showing compassion, but I have found things that suggest infants show facial expressions and other indicators of emotion (I assume they mean smiling, frowning and shit like that.)