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Guyver

Are People Basically Good or Basically Evil?

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Anne Frank, famous author of Diary of a Young Girl suffered terribly at the hands of Nazi policy during WWII. She eventually died in a Nazi concentration camp. Her most famous quote, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are basically good."

Jesus Christ, undoubtedly the most famous person/philosopher/religious figure of all time, said people are basically evil. He went on to explain that for this reason one must be "born again" or receive a new spiritual nature in order to "see" the kingdom of heaven.

Which viewpoint do you think is correct?

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Both. God and other religious paths want to uplift us from the natural state. Anne Frank was speaking about the end product after religion and other ethical systems were done with us. You can see an infant walking and walk away saying I can teach them to walk. Then again you can see someone running already and walk away saying wow they are fast and do not crawl. It depends in which moment of that life one is to comment on.

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Anne Frank, famous author of Diary of a Young Girl suffered terribly at the hands of Nazi policy during WWII. She eventually died in a Nazi concentration camp. Her most famous quote, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are basically good."

Jesus Christ, undoubtedly the most famous person/philosopher/religious figure of all time, said people are basically evil. He went on to explain that for this reason one must be "born again" or receive a new spiritual nature in order to "see" the kingdom of heaven.

Which viewpoint do you think is correct?

Neither. The concepts of good and evil are completely relative depending on social, political and historical situations.

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Neither. People are basically bags of meat and water.

Outside influences cause a behavior which is then judged by society as either good or evil.

HN

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Humans are neutral i believe. It's outside forces of good and evil that set the motions. It's up to us to decide who to listen to.

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Good/Evil so outdated.

People do what they do simply because they can. People are wired to see what they can do. So naturally we seek the paths that fulfil this need.

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I would also like to add that Anne Frank wrote that before her ordeal in the concentration camps. However, i dont think her opinion of people changed because her mother and sister who had the oportunity to leave her for better conditions when she was placed in a lice infected quarantine didn't. They stayed with her. If you have read The Diary of Anne Frank you will understand this significant event.

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People are self preserving. they will be "good" or altruistic when it costs them less than it gains them (including the positive feelings altruism produces in some) and when there is an end net benefit to them.

At a fundamental and basic level, you stop to help the stranded motorist becuase you want someone to stop and help you.

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If you want a scientific answer, it would have to be "good".

There is an evolutionary reason for morals to exist - in lab tests, a monkey was given an electric shock every time a second monkey ate food. The second one very quickly refused to eat anything, seeing the trauma its actions were causing, whether or not it understood the process.

Being "good" to each other can help a species to survive.

But I'm not sure thats what the OP was getting at.

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If you want a scientific answer, it would have to be "good".

There is an evolutionary reason for morals to exist - in lab tests, a monkey was given an electric shock every time a second monkey ate food. The second one very quickly refused to eat anything, seeing the trauma its actions were causing, whether or not it understood the process.

Being "good" to each other can help a species to survive.

But I'm not sure thats what the OP was getting at.

Indeed we have only survived as a species because of cooperation which most would define as good.

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Indeed we have only survived as a species because of cooperation which most would define as good.

But the thing is, many species survive because they have an inbuilt co-operation instinct - you wouldn't say ants are "good" to each other. Its all relative.

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Good or Evil, neither one is right but neither one is wrong. They're both based a point of view. Let's say that you kill someone in self defense in order to save your life and possibly someone else that you care for. Some people in the world would view it as murder while you viewed it as the right thing to do. Or better yet, you steal food from a grocery store because you and your family are on the streets, so that loaf of bread and meat helps you survive another night. Some might say stealing is still stealing and you should go to jail for it, but others might say that letting them go and live is the better choice. So it's all a matter of decision and point of view from an individual and other people in society. Just remember that no matter what you do, it's neither the right thing, nor is it the wrong thing to choose. Live life the way you want and choose which path you take. Either one leads to success.

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If you want a scientific answer, it would have to be "good".

There is an evolutionary reason for morals to exist - in lab tests, a monkey was given an electric shock every time a second monkey ate food. The second one very quickly refused to eat anything, seeing the trauma its actions were causing, whether or not it understood the process.

Being "good" to each other can help a species to survive.

But I'm not sure thats what the OP was getting at.

That's fascinating. I'd love to read that. Do you think you could post a link?

It reminds me of another scientific study from the 80's. College students were asked to administer an electric shock to convicts who answered incorrectly. This experiment was designed to examine how people could have done what the Nazi's did - if I remember correctly. Anyway, each time the inmate answered incorrectly the college student was instructed to turn up the amperage. They wanted to see if the person would administer a lethal shock in the presence of an authority figure. They did. This messed with their heads and at the conclusion most of the participants had to receive counseling in order to deal with the internal conflict.

PS. The shocks were simulated, no one actually died.

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That's fascinating. I'd love to read that. Do you think you could post a link?

Think I read it in the New Scientist, will try and dig out an online copy over the wkend!

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But the thing is, many species survive because they have an inbuilt co-operation instinct - you wouldn't say ants are "good" to each other. Its all relative.

I concur with emma on all points... our cells seek altruism and cooperation it is built in to the system.... so from a sciency posit it does seem this is part of nature...

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Man is born as a selfish creature who'se main purpose is to support his own life at all costs. virtue must be learned

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Posted (edited)

Man is born as a fragile creature that needs the help of others to even make it past day one. Cooperation is hardwired into us and without it we will cease to exist as a species. Cooperate or perish! *said in a borg-like voice*

Edited by Rosewin

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Posted (edited)

@ guyver and emma

http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Milgram_experiment

for full article...

The Milgram experiment (Obedience to Authority Study) was a famous scientific experiment of social psychology. The experiment was first described by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University in an article titled Behavioral Study of Obedience published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in 1963, and later discussed at book length in his 1974 Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. It was intended to measure the willingness of a participant to obey an authority who instructs the participant to do something that may conflict with the participant's personal conscience.

The experiments began in July 1961, a year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiment to answer the question "Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?" (Milgram, 1974)

Milgram summed up in the article "The Perils of Obedience" (Milgram 1974), writing:

"The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous import, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation."

Edited by Tangerine Sheri

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I don't know that I think people are basically good or evil... but I do think that people can be basically lazy and selfish. It can be quite difficult to do the right thing, and we all often opt to do the easy or selfserving thing... it's human nature.

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I believe that is not human nature but society. Modern society not only contributes and encourages selfishness but it places us in positions that make us compete more than cooperate. Trust me six hundred years ago on a farm setting where you are forced to pull together as family and community or fail and starve it was in no ones best interest to be self serving or lazy. Of course once power structures are in place to disrupt the concept that we grow our own food, think serfdom, industrialization, etc...then we seek different ways of coping. The end result is happiness declines in such societies.

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basically good ........ but I do believe everything happens for a reason be it good , bad or indifferent.

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So far I agree with Emma and say neither also.

But I would also add it's partly genetic, temperaments are inheritable .

We see this with siblings raised in the same household, taught the same moral values, can turn out completely different from one another.

I think selfishness is caused by environment, a bit of apathy for others and the fact that our lives are so short. The short life puts people into panic mode and sadly it costs money to make some dreams come true. But people get irrational with selfishness.

And I think being "evil" is nothing but a mental illness/brain dysfunction. Think about it.

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Put me down for both on the original question.

I am unfamiliar with Emma Acid's monkey experiments, and look forward to her citation of them.

Let us suppose the monkey experiment is as Emma described it.

I think the humans' behavior is execrable. I suspect that both monkeys agree with me. And that influences how I interpret the monkeys' behavior.

The principle involved is that an inmate does not cooperate with his captors' schemes at the expense of another inmate. It is having the wit to see what's wrong with the idea that the other person's half of the boat is sinking, and to act accordingly when both of you are, as a matter of fact, in the same boat.

The main relevant difference between a monkey and me in that situation is I can curl all of my fingers except one, and point that uncurled one straight up, while extending my arm in the direction of the tormentor. Please consider it done.

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I believe that is not human nature but society. Modern society not only contributes and encourages selfishness but it places us in positions that make us compete more than cooperate. Trust me six hundred years ago on a farm setting where you are forced to pull together as family and community or fail and starve it was in no ones best interest to be self serving or lazy. Of course once power structures are in place to disrupt the concept that we grow our own food, think serfdom, industrialization, etc...then we seek different ways of coping. The end result is happiness declines in such societies.

oh people have been selfish since the dawn of man. it's no worse now than then , it's just that there are more people now.

Be it now or a half million years ago or anywhere in between. People will always want to be more comfortable . Communities in the past didn't pool farm resources. They bartered. bushels of wheat for a pig , ect........... if my farm was doing well enough to support my family through the winter and yours wasn't so be it. This isn't to say people didn't give , but most resources were limited. Especially if you understood how long it actually took to farm using only oxen. Farming is still a family affair for the most part. You don't have to pay an outside source if you can avoid it and you can take family working for you off your taxes. tax law and hiring family members for farms

Now plenty of ancient civilizations , like the Hebrews , lived in family communal settings. that made it easier than just one head of household. But no one gave anything away for free but took things to market . This is why widows , without family , on their own had such a hard time. there is no wonder why debtors were made slaves.

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Tom Ripley: Well, whatever you do, however terrible, however hurtful, it all makes sense, doesn't it, in your head. You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person.

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