Jump to content
Miro

Boston Bombing

Recommended Posts

Human nature does exist, it's just mediated by culture. Examples of parts of human nature: if you poke people in the eye they cry, if you kill their family they are mad, if you give them certain foods they will eat them and enjoy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Human nature does exist, it's just mediated by culture. Examples of parts of human nature: if you poke people in the eye they cry, if you kill their family they are mad, if you give them certain foods they will eat them and enjoy them.

Crying is socially constructed, food preference is constructed, response to death is constructed, and the presumption that one's particular cultural norms are universal is unethical, false, and exclusionary.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those articles are bad and don't say what you claim. The first is an unsourced claim that African babies don't cry, and it provides a noncultural explanation within it which is that African mothers breastfeed more. The second doesn't work, but probably ignores that humans like fats and sugars because of evolution. All humans have similar tastes because certain things are edible/nutritious and others aren't. The third I don't have access to, but doesn't seem to be examining cultural norms at all. If you want to assert that culture is all powerful, it would be nice if you'd provide an explanation of how that came to be so. I'll defend evolution as the mechanism that made both biology and culture important, I'm not sure what mechanism is open for you to defend if you perceive human nature to be a myth.

The fourth was irrelevant because I wasn't making false assumptions. It might not be universal that people dislike having family members murdered or enjoy eating certain things more than others in that a couple outliers might exist, but it's close enough that human nature makes sense as a rough conceptualization. Having some idea of "what people are like" is necessary to function within the world. You can't just shut off your brain and force it to treat each individual or culture as a total blank slate - you necessarily have to generalize from past experience or else give up the possibility of interacting with others. Some generalizations are sloppy and false, and those should be opposed, but the general principle is still sound.

Also, you're wrong. Some cultural norms are universal. Here's an excellent and interesting example. Possibly the best social-psych article I've ever read http://pps.sagepub.com/content/6/5/428.short

 

Relevant passages quoted below.
 

 
People across the world like to perceive themselves and their groups in a positive light, allowing them to feel that they are of value and worth (e.g., Alicke & Sedikides, 2009; Steele, 1988; Yamaguchi et al., 2007). People perceive themselves as especially virtuous and moral, predicting that they would be more likely to act in a more virtuous way than the average person (Balcetis, Dunning, & Miller, 2008; Epley & Dunning, 2000). Similarly, morality is the characteristic most important to positive group evaluation (Leach, Ellemers, & Barreto, 2007), and people are prone to view their own groups more positively (Tajfel & Turner, 1986), more valuable (Cikara, Farnsworth, Harris, & Fiske, 2010; Pratto & Glasford, 2008), and more human (Cortes, Demoulin, Rodriguez, Rodriguez, & Leyens, 2005; Leyens et al., 2000, 2001; Viki et al., 2006) than outgroups. Moreover, people more strongly link outgroups (in comparison with ingroups) with animal images (Boccato, Capozza, Falvo, & Durante, 2008) and more quickly discriminate between ambiguous ingroup and animal images than ambiguous outgroup and animal images (Capozza, Boccato, Andrighetto, & Falvo, 2009). 

...

Just as the motivation to understand and interact effectively with the environment may lead to humanizing animals, objects, and gods, the inverse of effectance motivation—a decrease in the need to interact effectively and an increase in independence—should predict dehumanization (Waytz, Epley, & Cacioppo, 2010). People who are in positions of power are more likely to act independently and are less likely to rely on interacting effectively with others (e.g., Galinsky, Magee, Gruenfeld, Whitson, & Liljenquist, 2008). Thus, powerful individuals should be less likely to consider the humanness of other people. For example, people in high-power positions were more likely to dehumanize other people than were people in low-power positions (Lammers & Stapel, 2010). These results further suggest that a similar, but inverse, motivation underlies both anthropomorphism and dehumanization (see also Waytz, Epley, & Cacioppo, 2010).

...

In addition to managing the fear of death by humanizing the self, people can also defend against death by humanizing important ingroups. Building on research showing that people identify with ingroups to manage death related thoughts (Castano, Yzerbyt, Paladino, & Sacchi, 2002), Vaes, Heflick, and Goldenberg (2010) theorized that people may also view the ingroup as especially human compared with an outgroup when mortality concerns are made salient. In three studies across two cultures, these researchers found that people attributed more uniquely human traits to their ingroup following mortality salience than did those in a control condition, and they found that attributing humanness to an ingroup actively buffers against death-thought accessibility. Finally, although not measuring dehumanization directly, TMT has demonstrated that violence and extreme derogation toward members of worldview-violating groups helps people cope with the threat of death (McGregor et al., 1998; Pyszczynski et al., 2006). Overall, these studies demonstrate that perceiving people who violate one’s cultural worldview as lower on the SCCB and thus unworthy of moral care and concern can provide people with a sense of meaning and purpose that buffers the anxiety of eventual death. 

...

Akin to the original conceptualization of the chain of being (Bynum, 1975; Lovejoy, 1936/1964; Russell, 1988), the SCCB represents a vertical moral continuum that ranges from the most immoral and evil of social targets to the most virtuous and good. We predict that this vertical moral hierarchy is used to rank all of the social targets we perceive throughout our lives (including ourselves) in an effort to understand our sociomoral universe and to guide our moral responses to its occupants. The metaphor that “up†is associated with the divine and “down†is associated with evil is ancient and has persisted across time and cultures (Haidt, 2003a; Haidt & Algoe, 2004; Russell, 1988). This metaphor may help map the abstract concept of morality onto the concrete representation of vertical space (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, 1999). As a result, morality can become socially situated and embodied via visual and spatial experience. Although other social dimensions (e.g., power and authority) can also be associated with verticality (e.g., Schubert, 2005), the SCCB specifically focuses on the vertical nature of morality. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still don't think it's possible to do "human nature algebra" though. It's like: take 30 people from that many different cultures or time periods, subtract all their socio-cultural differences, find the "remainder" that you could call "human nature." ... that doesn't seem real. If you're just going to refer to biological things, then okay sure, we're all human and we're similar insofar as we have the same biological necessities or responses... but that's not really as important as the social institutions and behaviors that I think we're all talking about. Or at least that level of "human nature" is too basic to really be useful for any kind of social analysis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still don't think it's possible to do "human nature algebra" though. It's like: take 30 people from that many different cultures or time periods, subtract all their socio-cultural differences, find the "remainder" that you could call "human nature." ... that doesn't seem real. If you're just going to refer to biological things, then okay sure, we're all human and we're similar insofar as we have the same biological necessities or responses... but that's not really as important as the social institutions and behaviors that I think we're all talking about. Or at least that level of "human nature" is too basic to really be useful for any kind of social analysis.

I think you're perceiving a harder division between culture and biology than there really is. Humans are social creatures. Humans are in large part built so that they are shaped by their cultures. That fact is an aspect of human nature. To the extent that culture matters, nature must also. I don't think we can separate the two. In addition to that, I think taking the obvious biological facts as our starting point makes it easier for us to see ourselves and others fully, because we've changed the paradigm to one that we don't have as many preconceived notions within.

 

I agree that we can't do algebra, but I think we can make rough estimates that work moderately well. For example, all else being equal, I think most people don't like being insulted. I'm pretty sure also that hypocrisy is universally considered bad. People don't trust those who lie to them. People lie. People have similar sets of biases - like they sometimes believe what they want to be true over what they think to be true. People all use some degree of empiricism within their thought processes. People have a tendency to invent deities. People are naturally bad at math - conceptualizing everyday life in terms of probabilities is extremely rare. People are almost always overconfident in their own judgments. Individual people are both selfish and altruistic at various times. People usually stay in groups, hermits are the exception rather than the rule. People tell stories (with similar themes!). People sing songs. There are tons of similarities across cultures. (Even if you're skeptical about a couple of those, I think the overall point stands.)

 

I think that when we think of culture there's a tendency to focus on difference, which then of course leads us to say that cultures are incredibly different from each other. But they're not, and that's obviously true because otherwise people wouldn't be able to transition from one culture to another and different cultures would be unable to interact or combine, which they do all the time.

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you're perceiving a harder division between culture and biology than there really is. Humans are social creatures. Humans are in large part built so that they are shaped by their cultures. That fact is an aspect of human nature. To the extent that culture matters, nature must also. I don't think we can separate the two. In addition to that, I think taking the obvious biological facts as our starting point makes it easier for us to see ourselves and others fully, because we've changed the paradigm to one that we don't have as many preconceived notions within.

Yes, as humans have such a large brain, we don't have to unconsciously rely on instincts that are encoded in our genome. We can change the 'wiring' of our brains and make conscience decisions. (Which is one of the reasons why we have consensual sex, and don't go about raping. We have even gone as far to contradict the biological imperative, with some humans wanting to decrease the human population.) Humans are social creature, as humans are found in groups and all of which have developed language. We have even evolved the fusiform gyrus, now simply looking at another human, and humans only, has a neuropsychological effect.

 

Also your body unconsciously responding to a stimulus (in this case getting poked [an irritant] in the eye, and responding by crying to get rid of the irritant) is not a social construct.

 

I agree that we can't do algebra, but I think we can make rough estimates that work moderately well. For example, all else being equal, I think most people don't like being insulted. I'm pretty sure also that hypocrisy is universally considered bad. People don't trust those who lie to them. People lie. People have similar sets of biases - like they sometimes believe what they want to be true over what they think to be true. People all use some degree of empiricism within their thought processes. People have a tendency to invent deities. People are naturally bad at math - conceptualizing everyday life in terms of probabilities is extremely rare. People are almost always overconfident in their own judgments. Individual people are both selfish and altruistic at various times. People usually stay in groups, hermits are the exception rather than the rule. People tell stories (with similar themes!). People sing songs. There are tons of similarities across cultures. (Even if you're skeptical about a couple of those, I think the overall point stands.)

 Well, we are bad at math, as we evolved foraging in the African Savannah, never had to do math, and limited to contemplating objects of human scale. People invented deities as a result of trying to answer questions that weren't answered, or just asking the wrong questions to begin with. Having no knowledge of gravity or celestial objects, one might be tempted to think that a celestial body is a god (as we learn more deities become more abstract). Humans cannot live alone in a Savannah, so naturally the people who lived together survived. Another reason that we are in groups of people is that humans are aware of other people's consciousness and want realize how valuable other people are are.

 

I think that when we think of culture there's a tendency to focus on difference, which then of course leads us to say that cultures are incredibly different from each other. But they're not, and that's obviously true because otherwise people wouldn't be able to transition from one culture to another and different cultures would be unable to interact or combine, which they do all the time.

Even though different cultures only have a small difference, it can have a big effect (somewhat analogous to the small difference of the genome of humans and chimps). A different culture being able to peacefully interact (for non-transaction purposes) with another culture is relatively new. People respecting other people's cultures while putting every culture, including their own, on the same level is a social construct and the morality of which is debatable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, as humans have such a large brain, we don't have to unconsciously rely on instincts that are encoded in our genome. We can change the 'wiring' of our brains and make conscience decisions. (Which is one of the reasons why we have consensual sex, and don't go about raping. We have even gone as far to contradict the biological imperative, with some humans wanting to decrease the human population.) Humans are social creature, as humans are found in groups and all of which have developed language. We have even evolved the fusiform gyrus, now simply looking at another human, and humans only, has a neuropsychological effect.

 

Also your body unconsciously responding to a stimulus (in this case getting poked [an irritant] in the eye, and responding by crying to get rid of the irritant) is not a social construct.

 

 

 Well, we are bad at math, as we evolved foraging in the African Savannah, never had to do math, and limited to contemplating objects of human scale. People invented deities as a result of trying to answer questions that weren't answered, or just asking the wrong questions to begin with. Having no knowledge of gravity or celestial objects, one might be tempted to think that a celestial body is a god (as we learn more deities become more abstract). Humans cannot live alone in a Savannah, so naturally the people who lived together survived. Another reason that we are in groups of people is that humans are aware of other people's consciousness and want realize how valuable other people are are.

 

 

Even though different cultures only have a small difference, it can have a big effect (somewhat analogous to the small difference of the genome of humans and chimps). A different culture being able to peacefully interact (for non-transaction purposes) with another culture is relatively new. People respecting other people's cultures while putting every culture, including their own, on the same level is a social construct and the morality of which is debatable.

I don't disagree with any of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/18/keep_calm_and_shut_the_bleep_up?page=0,0

Fair echo of my thoughts, with a more harshly worded title. She's a bit disrespectful.

Well, this thread is mostly people talking about how insignificant, compared to other world events, the 'Boston Bombing' was and some odd parts arguing about the existence of human nature.

 

No jingoism here...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...