Some have noted the way modern capitalism is understood. Through a manipulated legal fluke, corporations gained precedence as being treated as humans. However, as they’re not actually persons, they’re not treated according to social norms. The description of how a corporation is expected to behave most cloesly resembles that of a psycopath. In defining corporations this way, we set up a standard by which humans also should strive towards in being successful.
What is the essence of human nature? Flawed, say many theologians. Vicious and addicted to warfare, wrote Hobbes. Selfish and in need of considerable improvement, think many parents.
But biologists are beginning to form a generally sunnier view of humankind. Their conclusions are derived in part from testing very young children, and partly from comparing human children with those of chimpanzees, hoping that the differences will point to what is distinctively human.
The somewhat surprising answer at which some biologists have arrived is that babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Of course every animal must to some extent be selfish to survive. But the biologists also see in humans a natural willingness to help.
[...] “We’re preprogrammed to reach out,” Dr. de Waal writes. “Empathy is an automated response over which we have limited control.” The only people emotionally immune to another’s situation, he notes, are psychopaths.
Indeed, it is in our biological nature, not our political institutions, that we should put our trust, in his view. Our empathy is innate and cannot be changed or long suppressed. “In fact,” Dr. de Waal writes, “I’d argue that biology constitutes our greatest hope. One can only shudder at the thought that the humaneness of our societies would depend on the whims of politics, culture or religion.”
The basic sociability of human nature does not mean, of course, that people are nice to each other all the time. Social structure requires that things be done to maintain it, some of which involve negative attitudes toward others. The instinct for enforcing norms is powerful, as is the instinct for fairness. Experiments have shown that people will reject unfair distributions of money even it means they receive nothing.
As said in the article, “the only people emotionally immune to another’s situation, he notes, are psychopaths.” Well, maybe, in a strict sense (i.e. no internal reaction whatsoever), yet people are taught, are encouraged to be immune to the plight of others. And many of us buy it, whether we’ve ‘no time’, ‘not my business’, ‘nothing in it for me’, or simply ‘don’t care’.
Yes, we teach our children well: consume, hoard, and ignore; get yours while you can; it’s only wrong if you get caught; winning is everything.
Filed under: Christianity, Humanity, Philosophy, Psychology, religion, science, Sociopolitical | Tagged: altruism, Ayn Rand, Christianity, egotism, human nature, individuality, Nicholas Wade, Psychology, science, selfish, selfless, sinner, We May be Born With an Urge to Help | Leave a Comment »