Monday, July 30, 2007

a sorry lot, indeed


consider the following:

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.

what motivates people to be good? is it fear? or is it truly a sense of what is right or wrong? and who decides what is right or wrong? is it a static decision or is it a subjective phenomenon? sorry to be so philosophical, but there you go.

8 comments:

Just Suzanne said...

I've thought about this question a lot, too, particularly as it pertains to me personally. I believe, after a lot of soul-searching and remembering of past events, that I have always had a "spark" of right and wrong inside. I don't believe I ever had to be taught (generally) the difference, nor did fear of punishment keep me from doing bad things. My own guilty conscience was all I needed, when it came to things that actually harmed others. However, I have been very curious lately about the hoopla surrounding mirror neurons -- could this be the key to right/wrong or good vs bad choices?

Vanda said...

When I was a young girl, you know back in the day, I just knew that if the policeman didn't get me my mum would, and if she didn't find out God would get me. That scared me to keep on the straight and narrow.

Now that I'm oh so much older, I think I always had a very strong personal sense what is right and what is wrong. It is very black and white, no room in there grey at all.

It isn't fear that make me like this, thats for sure. I don't believe in God anymore so I know that's not it.

It's just there alive and well inside me.

Um,opps sorry, I've rambled a bit trying to explain what I mean LOL.

daedalus2u said...

I think mirror neuons relate more to communication and following conventions rather than how people treat each other. Mirror neurons are disrupted in the autism spectrum disorders, and Einstein was on the spectrum.

I suspect that mirror neurons do relate to xenophobia, via the effect known as the "uncanny valley"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

I think if you are perceived too much as "other", it activates the xenophobia module.

What we consider good and bad depend on the circumstances.

I think there are states where fear of punishment has essentially no effect at all. I am writing a blog now about acute psychosis, which I think invokes a state where the "discount" rate to value future adverse consequences becomes infinite. This is analogous to the "running from a bear" state where any shortcut or injury is acceptable provided one escapes. I think this is what the stimulents of abuse invoke. An infinite discount rate where the only thing that matters is the next few minutes.

girl MD said...

just suzanne,
forgive my ignorance, but what is the hoopla around mirror neurons?

vanda,
isn't there a song about how if the preacher doesn't get you than the taxman will? (i've googled it and there are a lot of variations on that theme but i can't find the original.)

MY OWN WOMAN said...

In my humble opinion, right and wrong is static but the social situation and a person's reaction to that social situation is dynamic as to whether something is right or wrong.

For instance: Stealing is wrong. Mother has a hungry child. She steals to feed him. Is she wrong to steal? Yes. Has her perception of right and wrong changed due to her situation? I think it would have to have changed.

I guess sometimes it just boils down to whether you believe that man is born inherently evil or inherently good.

girl MD said...

call me naive, but i say inherently good.

daedalus2u said...

I agree, inherently good, but it is only a high level of NO and ATP that allows us the luxury of being good. When ATP levels drop, then the various survival paradigms kick-in, and desperate people will do desperate things. The stimulents of abuse induce low ATP and that induces euphoria, and the desperation that allows (requires) individuals to act in certain ways.

I think that low ATP can induce a state where anyone can do anything. I am working on a blog about postpartum psychosis and infanticide which I feel is a "normal" phsyiological response to a low ATP metabolic crisis in the postpartum period. A survival feature for the mother to shed metabolic load, survive, and maybe reproduce another time when conditions are better.

daedalus2u said...

I just posted a blog on postpartum psychosis in the context of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, child abuse and infanticide.

http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2007/08/low-nitric-oxide-acute-psychosis.html

I think it "explains" some of these effects via metabolic stress in the postpartum period, forcing a mother to make a "Sophie's choice". Continue down an unstainable metabolic path until she dies (and then her infant dies), or kill her infant, survive and maybe reproduce later.

What we think of as "good", and what our genes have programmed us to do under extreme situations are not necessarily the same.

Being "good" is a luxury that is allowed when times are easy.

If the conditions that women with small children find themselves are so harsh that the only thing that prevents infanticide is the mother's concern of harsh punishment, then society is broken, the mother/child unit has been destroyed and infanticide is one of the least of the problems society will be facing.