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Philosophical Essay (1 Viewer)

Miscreant

Member
This is an essay on the origin of mankind:

".... Man is born with no conscience of his own being or of those around him, so his status on a scale of good and evil is indefinite, as there has been nothing to influence him otherwise. As man matures, his sense of himself and his purpose is developed, which varies depending on the level of influence the man is swayed by. Be it beneficial or malevolent, this influence will undoubtedly determine the content of his consciousness, and all he does will be based upon the root of this influence. Without it, a man knows not how to act but by instinct, which is the basic mental capacity he is born with. Man may survive on instinct, but will prosper with knowledge, and so it is only through many generations of influence that man could have reached his current status.

This is why discovery is so important. Without discovery, there is no eventual influence or advancement. Man will live with his instinct forever, but, thank the heavens, man has a brain that is capable of analyzing his world and making use of any and everything around him. In the animal world, this is adaptation. But, unlike humans, animals are born with their adaptations. Humans have the ability to dynamically adapt, and so are capable of discoveries, which lead to further discoveries, and the eventual influence or spreading of such discoveries.

Man discovered fire, and this discovery spread. (influence on others) Fire was valuable, fire helped adaptation, so this new technology (at the time) was able to spread quickly. It is the nature of man, and his adaptability that ultimately led to his status today. After fire, there was the furnace, the chimney, and all other adaptations and usages for fire. It could cook, it could light, and it could heat. We build upon its fundamental uses, and the end result is fire as it's used today. Man has the ability to take such discoveries and build upon them, which is highly responsible for his success.

So, how does this affect people? Are people born good or evil? The answer from me is no. Man was born with instinct and base personality. It is only through discovery and the influence of those discoveries that man changes.

(Tangent: But, then, what is base personality? Base personality is defined as your unique patterns of thinking, which adapt according to the idea or knowledge that is being analyzed. Without these patterns, we would all think and feel the same, which would result in a rather dull world. Are certain thinking patterns more malevolent than others? No, but approaches and routines are different. Suppose there is a conflict among a tribe of cavemen. One cavemen wants to kill his enemies, another prefers a diplomatic approach. Both of these approaches to the problem, although it may sound cruel, are efficient. The problem is solved either way, so why absolve one as good or evil?

Emotion is the answer. I'm sure man's savagery would never be considered good or evil if he was just like any other animal. Instead he has emotions, which are a unique counterpart of instinct only apparent in humans. Emotion, I am sure, created the labels of good and evil. Without emotions, man would just be a very analytical and generally intelligent animal, and his decisions and reasoning would be influenced by very little aside from cause and effect. )


With time, ideas spread quickly, like fire, and the manipulation of the mind begins. One's unique thinking patterns analyze the ideas, and use them according to the nature of those thinking patterns. With emotion, the nature of the discovery, and influence involved, reason can be either complementary or detrimental to man, depending on his interpretation of the ideas.

And so, to me, men are not born evil, but rather become evil with influence and interpretation of discoveries, or unique reason."
 

Mondego

Senior Member
nice article. it covers a lot. there are somethings i think that could use improvement.

Your thesis was a little confusing. you said it was an article of the origin of mankind, but it's boldest where you marked it as a tangent. your beginning statement and closing reflect another thesis, that men aren't born evil. i wasn't sure what to base the article on.

the whole-article quotation around the entire piece is done wong. If the entire thing is quoted, you should start each paragraph with double quotes. double quotes at the ends of the paragraph are optional, and may be left out, leaving only beginning quotes at the start of each paragraph.

Man discovered fire, and this discovery spread. (influence on others) Fire was valuable, fire helped adaptation, so this new technology (at the time) was able to spread quickly.

i would remove the section in parenthesis. sentences shouldn't start with parenthetical statements. if it was it's own sentence, the period belongs at the end before the closing parenthesis. (Here is an example.)

I'm am not sure what the tangent is for. those two paragraphs have a lot of information relavent to the meaning of the message, which from what i can tell, is not that you don't think men were born evil. keep the paragraphs, but loose the word "tangent" and it's parenthesis (and italics).

what i would add, however, is how the good and evil scale is weighed in those paragraphs, so as to not surprise the reader by your closing remarks due to straying slightly off-topic. the tangent i think is necessary but it needs to connect to the good-bad spectrum.

So, how does this affect people? Are people born good or evil? The answer from me is no. Man was born with instinct and base personality. It is only through discovery and the influence of those discoveries that man changes.

this belongs in your closing—the beginning of it—but i would remove the underlined portions, and place your current summary aft of these sentences.

Without emotions, man would just be a very analytical and generally intelligent animal, and his decisions and reasoning would be influenced by very little aside from cause and effect.

this sentence caught my mind. it alone says alot. so much that i was expecting you to touch on the point that those who base their reasoning on cause and consequence alone, without the "corruptness" of emotions, are far more accurate than an experienced (full of emotions) individual.

you included a lot, from instinct, to personality and emotions, which is great. this adds to the depth of your thesis. i think you repeated some words too many times in a row, but this can be easily fixed. it's already a good article, and can be made better. i enjoyed reading it. it brought a side to evolution i don't often think about. :)
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
Pretty good, but you might quote some Hobbes so it doesn't just look like you're reiterating his argument (and since he's so cool it'll back you up, too).

Only one factual problem:

Emotion is the answer. I'm sure man's savagery would never be considered good or evil if he was just like any other animal. Instead he has emotions, which are a unique counterpart of instinct only apparent in humans. Emotion, I am sure, created the labels of good and evil. Without emotions, man would just be a very analytical and generally intelligent animal, and his decisions and reasoning would be influenced by very little aside from cause and effect.

Animals do have emotions, they are not unique to us. Without emotions, animals could not survive, because it is emotion that makes us value our own life, our offsprings' lives, and the act of producing offspring.
 

glennstewart

Senior Member
I can see you have a lot of fun composing your narratives, it shows.
Certainly you caught the point, which is that we as homo sapiens (from the latin sapere, to be wise), are able to think and adapt. The key is we don't start anew with each generation, we can write it down, pass it on. That's why Tom Postman is right when he says that Orwell had it wrong when he spoke of banning books...it was Huxley who had it right...books would not need banning since there would be no one who wanted to read them.
Our knowledge, thought's offspring, is only as good as our ability to pass it on...Hail the Historians!:) Glenn
 

Mondego

Senior Member
i read once that homo sapiens differ from every other animal because of our ability to "think about 'thinking'". "think" about that one :)
 

glennstewart

Senior Member
well Mondego, Albert Schweitzer cleared that one up for me...he wasn't satisfied with the Cartesian, "Cogito ergo sum," He postualted that the fundamental thought is not that 'one thinks,' but rather that one must think something. He saw the fundamental thought as "I will to live," and then "I will to live among others who also will to live."
 

Mondego

Senior Member
glennstewart said:
well Mondego, Albert Schweitzer cleared that one up for me...he wasn't satisfied with the Cartesian, "Cogito ergo sum," He postualted that the fundamental thought is not that 'one thinks,' but rather that one must think something. He saw the fundamental thought as "I will to live," and then "I will to live among others who also will to live."

interesting; this may be true, but it is also shared amongst far lesser species. when animals group themselves together, such as a wolf pack, they're emotional instincts will them to travel together. they rely on another's strength in hunting. if they didn't have a will to live, they would be considered weak—a freeloader in the pack—and those who do bear the will to live, will force the weak to leave. so knowing, they choose to live among others who also will to live. i do not believe it is a trait unique to homo sapiens, or even other extinct hominids.
 

glennstewart

Senior Member
Hi Mondego,

I think I catch what you're throwin'...only a couple of things. In the begining of your note you speak of emotional instincts which "will them to travel together," which is a plausable explanation for why they do so. But then you seem to have insight into the way they 'think' about social structure, that if "they don't have a will to live, they would be considered weak...and those who do bear the will to live, will force the weak to leave,...so knowing..." I think you go beyond what we are able to know about how animals think...my thoughts were centered around what might be the fundamental thought for humans...Glenn
 

Mondego

Senior Member
hi glenn,

you may be right in noting that i am lacking some knowledge in animal affairs. Perhaps there is only one true way of determining if a species is homo sapiens, or any of the various brands in the animal kingdom, and that is to look at their head of hair, as we the only species whose head hair grows perpetually to no defined length. :p
 

Miscreant

Member
Hodge said:
Pretty good, but you might quote some Hobbes so it doesn't just look like you're reiterating his argument (and since he's so cool it'll back you up, too).

Only one factual problem:



Animals do have emotions, they are not unique to us. Without emotions, animals could not survive, because it is emotion that makes us value our own life, our offsprings' lives, and the act of producing offspring.

Hmm, I've never read any Hobbes, unfortunately, but since you mentioned we think very similarily, maybe I should. :)

Animal emotions? I don't know about that. It seems more to me that it's instinct to reproduce, instinct to care for offspring. These are attitudes of natural survival. Without them, nothing could survive.
 

Soccah

Senior Member
Thomas Hobbes said:
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Get to reading! :tongue:

Edit: Yes, WF was around in 1651.
 
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Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
Animal emotions? I don't know about that. It seems more to me that it's instinct to reproduce, instinct to care for offspring. These are attitudes of natural survival. Without them, nothing could survive.

What do you think emotions are for? Emotions allow a greater range of behaviors. A jellyfish just reacts to its environment, in the same way every time for the same stimulus. Mammals can react in different ways and learn, and in addition they can act without having received outside stimulus in the first place. Hit a dog enough times and he'll bite you. That's anger. Then he'll cower because he knows he's done something bad. That's fear and regret. You come home and he greets you happily, that's love. Mammals (and some other animals, I do believe) have emotions. What makes humans unique are their ability to quantify, identify, and represent emotions.
 
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