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Thread: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

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    Grandmaster RascalPuff's Avatar
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    Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    Is conscience an inherent animal instinct or a cultivated quality, unique to sentient beings?

    A related issue is human consciousness without conscience (refer 'egosyntonic' - a symptom of nazism, for example).

    An exemplary definition for 'good', for example, is:
    'that which benefits the most number of persons for the longest period of time'.

    A definition for 'bad', is:
    'that which causes undue harm to a person or people.'

    These - conscience related, 'good & bad' - issues are wide spectrum subjects with various focal points.

    May this discussion include the related panoramic - as well as the pinpointed - considerations.

    What are the differences, similiarities and relationships involving values of 'good', 'bad', and 'conscience' (the facility of knowing 'right' from 'wrong')
    (George Berkeley, 1710) ... lay the beginning in a distinct explication of what is meant by thing, reality, existence: for in vain shall we dispute concerning the real existence of things, or pretend to any knowledge thereof, so long as we have not fixed the meaning of those words.

    "All things come out of the one and the one out of all things." - Heraclitus
    "Reality is an illusion - albeit a persistent one." - Einstein
    "Particles give me a headache." - Ibid

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    Grandmaster Mikal's Avatar
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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    RascalPuff....I think conscience is an inherent POSSIBILITY within sentience being and I think it has a cultivated quality possible to be gained through an internal emotional struggle within the self.

    Your reference to egosyntronic and its referral to Nazi consciousness is also explainable as a demoralized person or society. When society deadens any concept of a higher intelligence beyond us we see the actions of those who play God which is most certainly action without conscience.

    I think good and bad issues are not connected to conscience, they are simply concepts conditioned in by parents and others who contribute to forming and shaping a sense of morality. I believe conscience functions at a higher level than any conditioned morality because it lies inherently possible to be reached at a higher level of our nature through internal struggle.

    Knowing right from wrong is complex for example the issue of figuring out if a man steals a loaf of bread because he is hungry it is paradoxical that it is a wrong action because his need to survive is involved. Another example is to be polite to someone's face and in your mind to hate that person. The concept of right and wrong gets very complex when we believe that the invisible stuff in our head cannot be seen so is therefore not wrong.

    To me to possess conscience is to use the ability to measure words and expected actions to weigh the possibility that what I might consider doing or saying would possibly harm the life of someone else and if I have to struggle to prevent that harm from happening then I believe that is conscience....



    Peace Mikal

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    Grandmaster mkirkpatrick's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    Conscience is an inner monitor,that arises from within the human soul,but as with any
    monitor it barely functions when man is at the beastial level.




    rwegards michael.
    Humilty,coupled with boldness,surprises truth to
    reveal herself?

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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    Michael....I like your statement that conscience is within the human soul and according to my experience I had to battle with myself in a big internal emotional struggle to experience it rising....


    Peace Mikal

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    Re: Conscience...

    Quote Originally Posted by RascalPuff View Post

    edited....
    Is conscience an inherent animal instinct or a cultivated quality, unique to sentient beings?
    'Conscience', in my opinion, is an emergent trait (via evolution) that 'emerges' from consciousness.
    It is reasonable to hypothesize that 'conscience' is a trait that expresses through 'higher' life-forms; or, in other words, 'life forms' that have attained the ability to 'reason' (Man and some primates).

    As an 'emergent trait' it (conscience) is not, as yet, apparent in all humans (gene pool stuff). Howsoever, human society imposes a 'conscience' (fear of punishment, guilt, etc.) upon its members and often 'punishes' those who exhibit a lack of conscience. However, human laws (in evolved societies) usually do not 'punish' a person for apparent breaches of conscience if it can be proven that an accused individual did not possess the ability (at the time of the alleged offense) to distinguish between right and wrong.

    So, I suppose that the key issue is, 'does Man, in the state of nature (absent societal pressures, etc.), possess a conscience'? My answer to this question is 'no'. In nature, the primary law is 'survival of the fittest' and, typically, 'survival needs' act without the necessity (unbridled) of a conscience.

    Personal conclusion: Conscience is an 'emerging / emergent trait' of an evolved consciousness. For some, 'conscience' is inherent and for many others it is introduced (imposed) by society and culture.

    The notion of 'good and evil' becomes murky. The laws of 'civilized societies' make a distinction between actions that are 'inherently bad' (i.e., violence) and acts that are 'taboo' but which may not be 'bad' naturally (i.e., income tax evasion). The more severe breaches of conscience are punished more severely (a deterent).

    The philosophical debate regarding the nature of 'good and evil' is longstanding. There are too many variables.... what is good or bad for an individual, or for a society, or, from a spiritual/religious perspective, what type of activities advance or complicate one's 'spirit' (?).

    Is Man naturally 'ethical'? I do not believe so. There is simply too much energy expended (law enforcement, etc.) attempting to try to get people to behave ethically. Something that comes 'naturally' should not require so much 'social maintenance' (police, prisons, peer pressure, imposed guilt, laws, statutes, regulations, etc.) to hmmmm maintain.

    Tests done on primates and on some human children demostrate that 'caring for the group' is a function of higher intelligence (problem solving abilities), compared with 'self interest' without regard for 'the group'.

    Typically, 'Laws' (as in 'laws of nature') cannot easily be disobeyed.... i.e., the law of gravity. I believe that if 'ethics' (decisions regarding good and bad) were 'hardwired' into (ALL of us) our genes, then the 'ethical laws' would be as difficult to breach as the physical laws of nature. ..... enter 'free will'.
    So... perhaps ethics is introduced by 'consciousness' (a natural process) and can then be disregarded or embraced according to the overriding law of 'survival of the fittest'. If so, then does ethical conduct enhance 'survival'? Do 'ethics' work hand in hand with nature?

    more questions than answers.....
    .

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    Smile Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikal View Post
    Michael....I like your statement that conscience is within the human soul and according to my experience I had to battle with myself in a big internal emotional struggle to experience it rising....


    Peace Mikal

    Thanks Mikal,we all have our battles to fight,I pray yours have lessoned for a while.





    regards michael.
    Humilty,coupled with boldness,surprises truth to
    reveal herself?

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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    I hope not to offend if you feel that concience occurs exclusively in the human domain but I think that it's an aspect of conciousness, the brighter the conciousness, the more interesting and complex the concience. I'm pretty sure that my dog has flashes of guilt when she knowingly does something wrong. It's a neural feedback mechanism for optimizing future behavior. The mind of Lilikoi the dog is not too complicated and not too intelligent even by canine standards but even so, an awareness of, at least, wrong ... I like the term "monitor" - an aspect of conciousness to evaluate the consequences of decisions.

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    Grandmaster austintorn@aol.com's Avatar
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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    Perhaps both nature and nurture, since some seem to catch on at an early age.

    Conscience may be the ability to think things through into the future. Those prone to anger or anxiety may just blurt hurtful things out, all thinking having halted.

    Others may have been brought up to always be able to have what they want.

    Others may have brain imbalances and perhaps feel no guilt at all, during or after.

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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    One thing I notice about Lilikoi (hound) - there is not much persistence to any notions of regret...

    Back to concience in humans, it has something to do with harnessing memory in some beneficial way to temper behavior through rewards and punishments - apparently of a neural/chemical nature in the brain. I think there is an organic basis for it. The wetware required for a "concience" is built into us, part of the genetic package, very much integrated into what one of my daughter's wonderful teachers called the "giant pulsating brains" of her students.

    However, I am of the school that nurture is indispensable in teaching the child to live in harmonious and rewarding relationships with others. We teach because we are convinced the results are better than allowing trial and error to do the teaching. I think you can make powerful case for nurture with arguments along those lines. It takes nurture, love, family, caring. It requires language to express sophisticated and complex ideas, and for those things to exist, takes generations of cultural development. At the same time, evidence mounts that injuries to the developing child can impair the operation of what we call a conscience, for example, ingestion of lead in early childhood or in the womb. And emotional traumas can likewise subvert whatever it is that governs normal human behavior. As nurture, love, can care brings our children to full flower, "injury" of various kinds to the body, the mind/body, our soul if you will, can be our undoing and therein lies the root of evil when the thread binding behavior to conscience are broken.

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    Re: Conscience: Nature or nurture? (The issues of 'good' and 'bad'.)

    I believe conscience more or less has like two substations. One substation occurs and grows through nurturing and healthy discipline in connection to what we as a society determine as right and wrong through the creation of social moral laws we structure. The other substation is higher, of the higher mind and entails inner struggle with one's own life passage to contribute to inner character development so is self-nourishing and connected more to inner moral laws which govern the universe and our participation in it.




    Mikal

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