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Old 07-22-2005, 03:26 AM   #1
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Violence and Compassion

Do you think we are inherently violent? (even though we may have been civilized out of violent action or learned to rechannel it in other ways such as FYM discussions )

And although we seem to be biologically protective and compassionate toward our young--up to say age 12 (which is an arbitrary number but about right), do we feel a natural compassion for other people or do we need to be trained to feel it? By this, I mean genuine compassion not necessarily the "feel good" expression of it.

(Understood that not all people are inherently violent or generally uncompassionate)

I get curious about this, because I know I have a violent side (though well trained to not act on it) and am not particularly naturally emotionally compassionate (although capable of performing compassionate acts)

Perhaps the ultimate question is humanity at its best inherent or trained?
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Old 07-22-2005, 10:22 AM   #2
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Hi there--I'd love to discuss this, as it's such an interesting topic that has so many implications for pretty much everything in public or private life. It's not a question, I don't think, that will every be settled.

That said, I've actually done a lot of reading at my conflict and peace studies program (it involves a lot of sociology, psych, anthro, and philosophy) and have tentatively concluded teh following.

I think there is indeed an 'inherent' human nature. Genes and hereedity are HUGH; I'm not a chemist or neurobiologist at all, but the science I am familiar with backs this up (twin studies, and similar studies). I think that evil/sin/aggression is a part of that nature. However, the best evidence that I've read suggests that those aspects of our human nature are only 'soft wired', not hard wired. That doesn't mean we can get rid of it exactly, but it does mean that aggression will only tend to come out in specific situations (usually as a result of a preceived threat or shame).

Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate" is a great (if WAY too long) book on the subject, as is James Gillian's "Violence" and this book called "Demonic Males." (NB Gentleman: sorry about the title--if it helps, the title is way more dramatic than the actual arguement they make ).

Anyway, some initial thoughts.
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:42 AM   #3
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"Perhaps the ultimate question is humanity at its best inherent or trained?"

Good question. Inherently I believe in two forces in this world.....good and evil....but humanity decides which "wave" to ride......some choose "good"....some choose "evil".

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Old 07-22-2005, 09:38 PM   #4
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Re: reply

Quote:
Originally posted by wizard2c
"Perhaps the ultimate question is humanity at its best inherent or trained?"

Good question. Inherently I believe in two forces in this world.....good and evil....but humanity decides which "wave" to ride......some choose "good"....some choose "evil".


Or do some choose altruistic and some choose selfish?

If you don't feel compassion, but act altruistically, are you a compassionate person? If you do not act on your violent feelings, are you not violent?
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Old 07-23-2005, 02:26 AM   #5
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Why worry too much about what is in people's heads and hearts? If someone is violent by nature but does not act on it, I'd say thank God (or just be thankful period) for that much. Real physical acts take place in the real world and that's where the harm (or good) is effected.
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Old 07-23-2005, 03:23 AM   #6
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I'm not so curious about what's in other people's heads and hearts. I'm curious about what's in mine.
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Old 07-23-2005, 05:33 AM   #7
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I think nearly everyone is capable of violence.

I also think compassion and humility is inherent.


I cant offer much without much more thought, lol.
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Old 07-23-2005, 05:48 AM   #8
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Fake it till you make it perhaps? I dunno. People generally respond in kind to how they are treated, so a compassionate act even if one feels nothing inside, can still have good consequences in time.
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