BANNED on SFCON

General discussion about Defcon

Moderator: Defcon moderators

User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:01 pm

kudayta wrote:I think Ace's point there was that because humans have a natural tendency towards aggression, then we need to teach morality in order to properly socialize humans. It's veneer theory

You're close. Humans have a natural tendency towards selfishness, which can lead to aggression. Laika even brought out nation states tendency towards this behavior. Remember, nowhere did I say people couldn't, or wouldn't be nice and giving, rather our most basic instinct is 100% 'me'. All other types of behavior are naturally subservient to 'self'.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
Laika
level5
level5
Posts: 1497
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:16 pm
Location: Moscow

Postby Laika » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:09 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote: rather our most basic instinct is 100% 'me'. All other types of behavior are naturally subservient to 'self'.


Is there any standard deinition of "self" ? What is human most basic instinct ?

Whatever it is, there are different judgements on what ways are better to fulfill that instinct. Those judgements are based on vast amount of factors, while having limited cognitive capacities, we can keep in mind only several of them. Then, those judgements lead to different actions. Selfish or generous and sacrificial, it depends on the situation.
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:53 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:
kudayta wrote:I think Ace's point there was that because humans have a natural tendency towards aggression, then we need to teach morality in order to properly socialize humans. It's veneer theory

You're close. Humans have a natural tendency towards selfishness, which can lead to aggression. Laika even brought out nation states tendency towards this behavior. Remember, nowhere did I say people couldn't, or wouldn't be nice and giving, rather our most basic instinct is 100% 'me'. All other types of behavior are naturally subservient to 'self'.


And if that's where you wish to begin your anthropological and biological studies, it's a fine place to start. But the primacy of selfishness is only true to a first approximation. Once you scratch the surface, you discover things like kin selection, green beard effects and what not. While you can view these genetic algorithms as being fundamentally selfish if you wish (Dawkins would largely agree with you), the reality of the situation is that we are "programmed" to behave altruistically as well as selfishly.

You'll also encounter some stiff resistance from the proponents of group selection. I'm not one of those guys, so if there's any around, I'll let them speak for themselves.
User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:07 pm

Let me preface what follows by saying I have very limited knowledge of formal fields of study...

I would certainly agree we are fundamentally selfish and would agree the models you mention show themselves as also being fundamentally selfish. I would disagree that we are "programed" to behave altruistically. Again, we don't live in a vacuum and other considerations must be made that affect our decision making process (outside forces such as the influence of peers).

I would be willing to gamble, given a 'proper' control group, that is humans who have never been influenced by other humans in any manner and allowed to mature, would have a very difficult time showing any signs of altruism.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:41 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:I would be willing to gamble, given a 'proper' control group, that is humans who have never been influenced by other humans in any manner and allowed to mature, would have a very difficult time showing any signs of altruism.


That wouldn't be a proper control group if we're seeking what humans would do naturally. Humans left to fend for themselves from infancy die because they don't get to breast feed. Even if we allow for things like breast milk and basic protection, the human will grow up to be severely mentally impaired (unable to learn language, neglect of personal hygiene, disinterest in human affairs, etc). Despite what you may see from American politics, the primeval state of humanity is not equivalent to that of a gibbering retard.

A better way to get a control group would be to see how a group of humans that have isolated themselves from modern culture behave. Tribes such as the Amish and the Piraha tend towards a strong sense of community, rooted in traditionalism (they can learn how to use new technologies, but they tend not to). They also tend to avoid things like strong, charismatic leaders, preferring a simpler collective arrangement. Leadership and policing aren't priorities though in communities that are less than or approach the Dunbar number.

Regarding your objection to being altruistically programmed, I'll refer you to Hamilton's Law (which describes how a gene for altruism could spread). We even see the behavior in foraging robots, robots that were not specifically programmed with altruism in mind (perhaps Hamilton's Law is more meme than gene in that case).
User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:53 pm

Obviously, assuming whatever means necessary to avoid mental defects and providing basic needs. Even language could be taught, perhaps through 'foraging robots' ;p

I disagree with the notion that humans cut off from civilization are immune to what we see as 'modern' behavior. All humanity came from the same source (regardless of evolution/creation) and all existing humans, most likely, have a least residual teachings, beliefs, traditions, whatever that modify behavior. The Amish are a very poor example, in the context we're talking about. :P

Edit: sure, it Wikipedia, but still:

Daniel Everett states that one of the strongest Pirahã values is no coercion; you simply don't tell other people what to do.[5] There appears to be no social hierarchy; the Pirahã have no formal leaders. Their social system can thus be labeled as primitive communism, in common with many other hunter-gatherer bands in the world, although rare in the Amazon because of a history of agriculture before Western contact (see history of the Amazon).

Their culture is remarkably conservative. For example, they use canoes every day for fishing and for crossing the river that they live beside. However, when their canoes wear out, they simply use pieces of bark as temporary canoes. Everett brought in a master builder who taught and supervised the Pirahã in making a canoe, so that they could make their own. But when they needed another canoe, they said that "Pirahã do not make canoes" and told Everett that he should buy them a canoe.

Even these people have strong social order, which in and of itself is not altruistic, rather a simple means of 'you live your way so I can live mine' (i.e. selfish). Even the example given of the canoe "give us (me) something, even though I can do it myself". :P :P

I know I'm being overly simple, however I think the point is simple.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:24 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:Obviously, assuming whatever means necessary to avoid mental defects...


Whatever means necessary to avoid mental defects means being raised by other humans that care about the child though. Even the Romanian orphans under Ceausescu suffered from abnormal emotional disorders.

Ace Rimmer wrote:I disagree with the notion that humans cut off from civilization are immune to what we see as 'modern' behavior.


Well they're not immune, but those hunter-gatherer and Luddite agrarian cultures have maintained (we suspect) a much more primitive culture than the dominant cultures on the planet. Primitive being used in the technical sense here, meaning "more like the ancestor". There's simply no way to know with a high degree of accuracy what culture was like 200,000 years ago on the interpersonal scale. We can look to how Stone Age peoples lived though, through some circumstantial evidence (like flint tools, examining their trash and feces to determine their diet, observing cave paintings and speculating on their religious and/or entertainment significance and so on.)

Ace Rimmer wrote:Even these people have strong social order, which in and of itself is not altruistic, rather a simple means of 'you live your way so I can live mine' (i.e. selfish)


No, no, that's not what selfish means. Selfish means putting your own interests above the well-being of others. If asking for a canoe is selfish, then the lack of coercion is altruistic. You really should read Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle sometime, it's a fascinating account on the Piraha.
User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:37 pm

Ah, but there's only the appearance of lack of coercion.

What happens when one member tries to assert dominance? (coercion comes into play)
How do they teach the children? (coercion comes into play)


Ace Rimmer wrote:Even these people have strong social order, which in and of itself is not altruistic, rather a simple means of 'you live your way so I can live mine' (i.e. selfish)



kudayta wrote:No, no, that's not what selfish means. Selfish means putting your own interests above the well-being of others. If asking for a canoe is selfish, then the lack of coercion is altruistic. You really should read Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle sometime, it's a fascinating account on the Piraha.

You do realize the definition of selfish you put forth is exactly what I quoted, right? Putting your own interests (we want canoe), above the well-being of others (you buy one, we won't build one).
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:52 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:Ah, but there's only the appearance of lack of coercion.

What happens when one member tries to assert dominance? (coercion comes into play)
How do they teach the children? (coercion comes into play)


They don't have a very high opinion of "Big Men", guys that try to push others around. They're hunter gatherers, ambitious people tend to be shamed into going along with the tribe in those societies. So while shaming people can be considered coercion, it's reactive and ultimately altruistic in nature. As for their educational process, it's pretty simple as far as technology goes and you don't have to expend a lot of energy teaching a kid how to make a weapon or pointing out what to eat and what to avoid in the jungle. Primate children (not just humans) do that naturally. The Western style of education, where we have to cram a lot of knowledge into the heads of kids for years isn't necessary in smaller societies.


Ace Rimmer wrote:You do realize the definition of selfish you put forth is exactly what I quoted, right? Putting your own interests (we want canoe), above the well-being of others (you buy one, we won't build one).


Well, it appeared to me that you were describing a live and let live mentality. And these people don't really have a good grasp on capitalist economics. I think in that context, just asking for a canoe isn't selfish.
User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:06 pm

It might appear to be altruistic to push out or shame 'big men', however, it's ultimately selfish and certainly not altruistic towards the 'big man'. ;p Sure, one person comes in and upsets the applecart, the one you get your apples from, you're gonna defend it. :wink:

I didn't mean technological or even informational education, rather education with regard to living in society (theirs). Unlike animals, human beings must learn everything, except how to breath. :wink: In essence, an child's natural self interest must be reigned in by the parent/village. Their altruism, on the other hand, must be encouraged, except in rare cases.

They weren't 'just asking for a canoe'. They were attempting to gain something from another person, at his own expense, while refusing to provide it for themselves, even though they could have done so easily. Far cry from 'just asking'. ;p
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:47 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:It might appear to be altruistic to push out or shame 'big men', however, it's ultimately selfish and certainly not altruistic towards the 'big man'. ;p Sure, one person comes in and upsets the applecart, the one you get your apples from, you're gonna defend it. :wink:

I didn't mean technological or even informational education, rather education with regard to living in society (theirs). Unlike animals, human beings must learn everything, except how to breath. :wink: In essence, an child's natural self interest must be reigned in by the parent/village. Their altruism, on the other hand, must be encouraged, except in rare cases.

They weren't 'just asking for a canoe'. They were attempting to gain something from another person, at his own expense, while refusing to provide it for themselves, even though they could have done so easily. Far cry from 'just asking'. ;p


Well, no, humans have quite a few specific and innate (or universal in the case of cultures) behaviors. By this, I mean aside from the mundane behaviors like eating, sleeping, and pooping. I mean stuff that would interest a psychologist or sociologist. Pinker's The Blank Slate goes into much more detail on this, but it's things like language acquisition, playing, shame, even things like moral sentiments and farting in elevators correlate to genetic explanations. And as I stated before, altruistic behavior itself can have a genetic component to it. Parenting, another cultural universal, fills in a lot of the details. But the baseline is already present in human children.

Finally, to nitpick a bit here, you can't distinguish humans from the rest of the animals when biology is a topic at hand. :)
GHOSTofTOMBUSCH
level0
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 5:09 am

Postby GHOSTofTOMBUSCH » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:35 pm

Woooooooooooo!

But what is the basis for my unearthly moral sense?


*clanks his chains*
User avatar
Ace Rimmer
level5
level5
Posts: 10803
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: The Multiverse

Postby Ace Rimmer » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:35 pm

Ah! A ghost!

*runs away*

Edit: Just out of curiosity, let me pose a question:

Let's say we discover a tribe of heretofore unknown humans. For whatever reason, it's discovered this particular tribe carries a gland in their brain that will cure every single disease known to man. However, the only way to extract it will cause the death of the person involved. Would it be selfish to force death upon them for the sake of mankind? Conversely, would it be selfish to prevent the cure from being extracted, even though it means death?
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
User avatar
drmaxmore
level1
level1
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:55 pm

Postby drmaxmore » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:46 pm

i got a better one


your on a spaceship travelling to earth from the moon with your wife and baby.

However theirs only 2 days of oxygen (for 2 and a half people) but its 4 days back to earth.

A. do you kill your baby and wife and save yourself

B. attempt to inpregnate your wife and kill yourself (hoping your genes live on in your potential child)

C. all die together by self destructing the ship

D. kill the baby and hope you and your wife make it through
User avatar
kudayta
Introversion Staff
Introversion Staff
Posts: 945
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:25 pm

Postby kudayta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:49 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:Ah! A ghost!

*runs away*

Edit: Just out of curiosity, let me pose a question:

Let's say we discover a tribe of heretofore unknown humans. For whatever reason, it's discovered this particular tribe carries a gland in their brain that will cure every single disease known to man. However, the only way to extract it will cause the death of the person involved. Would it be selfish to force death upon them for the sake of mankind? Conversely, would it be selfish to prevent the cure from being extracted, even though it means death?


In that fantastic scenario, the answer is "No, you don't kill the humans with the gland for the same reason that you don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs." What you do is study the phenomena until you can replicate the gland and its wonderful properties in the lab. Your extreme solutions to the thought experiment would each be simultaneously selfish and altruistic. And like many extreme solutions, utterly stupid courses of action.

A similar scenario to the movie Never Let Me Go, which while a beautiful film, is one that I fucking hate because it advocated collaboration with the murderers.

Now, let me pose a counter question? What if they volunteered to die to save humanity? Would you accept that? Personally, I still wouldn't let them commit suicide if that were their only reason.

Return to “General”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests