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    Thread: Conscience

    1. #26
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      Speculation is easy, Nirvanaseed. If you think anyone should take you seriously, you should post the reasoning behind your opinion.
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    2. #27
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      Roller said:
      Hmm ok here's my thought on conscience... I'd tend to agree with a more scientific view of conscience and guilt, and the role these tow things might play in survival.

      I think that despite its merits, conscience is actually has a selfish side to it. It is a way of ensuring that you stick to a certain belief or moral code of the society around you, because of the benefits this might give you.

      Say we have a poor person. They get up from a park bech without realising that they have left their wallet behind. You, as a human are faced with this choice: you can either pick it up, run after the person and return the purse, or you can pick up the purse and take the money for your own benefit. Now surely the best thing for you, when thinking in terms of 'survival of the fittest' would be to take that money for yourself so that you will have extra food? Well this is where conscience comes in...

      You see the wallet, and the poor person and most people (I hope) would run after the person and give them their wallet back. Why would you do this? You don't know the person at all, and you have little connection with them, in fact in evolutionary terms you are competing with each other for rescources. I think that the reason most people would return the wallet is because they can picture themselves in the poor person's shoes and ask themselves \"what if I was in that position?\" By retruning the wallet and showing kindness you (in a way) are trying to assure yourself that should you be in such circumstances the same would happen to you.

      Guilt, in my opinion, works in much the same way. It's not so much a case of you feeling bad that you've taken the money of a person, but it is you subconcsiously thinking that you wouldn't want someone to do the same to you one day.

      I also think that this can be translated into other things as well. For another example - most people wouldn't think twice about squashing a spider that has crawled into their bedroom. Most normal people would not kill a stray dog that has walked into their backyard. Why not? Well I think it's because the more you see yourself in something (a dog, a cat, a chimpanzee) the more your conscience tells you not to harm it, because you can subconsciously see that it might be you in that situation one day. Is the dog any more alive than the spider? Well I'm not into the business of weighing life, but it's something to ponder.

      While conscience and kindnes are undoubtably beautiful, precious things, they also are born out of a small selfishness. In my opinion anyway.[/b]
      Ok, before offering my opinion, I just wanna say I just had a massive bowl of Shrimp Diablo and I'm full as a tick, so I hope everything I say comes out making sense. (@[email protected])!

      I'd have to say that I can see why you would think this to be true...to an extent. Though I think to base your understanding of conscience itself off of this, would be to not fully dig into the concept of conscience as a whole. 'Self' is merely one of the Reasons for attuning to your conscience. It is simply one of the many "Whys" for listening to your conscience at all. And although it may be a very Common and fundamentally Basic reason for awareness of conscience, (and quite possibily the most universal, all around) it is not the only one.
      It's undeniable that a large reason behind conscience and guilt is placing oneself in another person's shoes. But this in itself cannot always be broken down into a Selfish M.O. Placing yourself in another's shoes is basically turning knowledge of self into knowledge of Others, which, by definition, is not a selfish trait at all. Like I said before, the Reasons for perceiving the situation is subject to many different variables. Sure one of those could be "Well I just wouldn't want this to happen to me, so..." But another frame of mind could be, "well, as a human being, and having an understanding of human nature, I sympathize with this person's position, and am aware of the strain my actions could place on this person, physically/mentally/emotionally, whichever."
      Both of these are examples of conscience, however while one is reflection of self, placed into the shoes of another, the other is acknowledgement of Oneness, consciousness that we are All Human and share similar vulnerabilities to physical and mental anguish. This, in itself, can produce a sense of contentment in oneself while simply exercising their good-will toward other people.
      The "placing yourself in another's shoe's" example is the more common of the two, if you ask me, and while I don't consider it Selfish, as you seem to, I can definitely understand your feelings for calling it so. The latter is a little less common, at least in my experience. Its because of this, though, that I think alot of people (especially today's youths) are forced into feeling that there is no true benevolency in the world; that 'survival of the fittest' is the only real truth when it comes to socialization.
      It is from this perspective, that I think your concept of "Conscience and Kindness" root into "Selfishness" came to be, and while I think your concept is a little tainted, I think I can see your logic behind it. But you have to take into account that there are many many truely 'giving' souls out there, who think of 'self' as no different from 'another' in terms of due respect. The conscience that forms behind this frame of mind extends beyond 'self' and enters the realm of 'We are all the same on so many levels' and it brings to light a natural want to ease the pain of others whenever possible...With, or without mentally putting yourself in their position.

      Like I said, reasoning is unique to the person, conscience itself if something we All share. It simply depends on what factors motivate us to listen to it or not, and 'selfishness' just doesn't explain them all.
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    3. #28
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      Yeah, I agree... selfishness is by no means the only reason for giving etc. Maybe it plays a subconscious part in some things, but we as humans seemed to have escaped the confines of pure evolution or 'survival of the fittest' to an extent, and so maybe that would make the argument null and void...

      If we were to go back in time to the earliest days of human life, before proper civilisation and with small groups of people competing for rather limited resources, then maybe selfishness would play a greater part in conscience. Today humans have changed a great deal, and yes there are many genuinely generous people, and the idea of selfishness being a main driving force would be an overly cynical view of the world.

      So what now? There's no doubt that guilt and conscience are subconscious things, otherwise they wouldn't take us by surprise in the way they do, and we could simply decide not to feel them. If they're subconscious, then surely they serve a purpose? Ok... so let's see...

      Generally speaking, guilt and conscience are built over a more or less uniform set of ideas - to treat others with kindness is good, and gives most people a nice feeling. To treat others badly, or to defy the beleifs or morals of society around you would normally fill a person with guilt, if their conscience did not stop them from doing the act in the first place. The way in which these effect a person would be due (to a large extent) to the overall ideals of the society in which they live.

      Ok... I'm just doing a bit of hypothetical thinking here, so bare with me...

      Say we had two islands.... on one island (island A) it is against the beleifs of the people to kill sheep for food. On island B it is perfectly alright, in fact their main diet is sheep. The reason people on island A do not kill their sheep is because they live on a much colder island, and the sheep are used for wool to clothe the people and keep them warm. Such is the need for wool and warmth for the good of the whole society, that if someone is found killing a sheep for meat, they are segregated from society and nobody will talk or cooperate with them, and they cannot trade food or wool with the rest of that population.

      So on island A we see that they more or less have a moral belief that killing sheep is bad, and any kid growing up on that island will soon enough learn the beliefs of that society, even if they are not 'taught' to the childeren, they will become ingrained in the child's thinking.

      So what's the point of this hypothetical example so far? Well, I think it illustrates how conscience kind of linked to the need for society. On island B a person would not think twice before killing a sheep for its meat. Put this person on island A. They (hypothetically) would walk up to a sheep and kill it when they are hungry. The people from islan A would see this foriegner as immoral, unfeeling and maybe even evil. This person from island B would be seen to have no conscience and selfish because they simply kill the sheep when feeling hungry, without thinking for the wool.

      Eh... trying not to loose myself in my own argument here... help! lol

      Ok... so... one day we have a man from island A. He's hungry, and he can't really be bothered going up to pick the fruit (or whatever it is that they eat) up on the mountain. He sees some of the island's sheep up grazing on the sunny pastures (sounds like a nice place eh?). Now this man could quite easily go and grab a sheep, skin it and cut up the meat and live quite fat and happy for the next week. He could quite easily dispose of all the bones etc and nobody else would know any wiser.

      So this man (Fred) has been thinking of it for a while... he goes up to the pasture on the hill with a knife, and grabs a sheep. He is about to cut its throat when suddenly out of nowhere... an attack of conscience... a feeling of guilt. He thinks for a while, and knows that winter isn't far away... the people on the island will need all the wool they can get. So while he can be selfish and kill and eat the sheep for himself, he still feels unable to because of the morals or beleifs of the society around him. He lets the sheep go and goes off to pick some fruit or something...

      He could have quite easily done the deed and been a little fatter, but in doing so he'd feel guilty. He would rather remain part of society and conform to the general rules of 'what is right' than kill the sheep and feed himself. After all, he remembers a while ago the person from island B that killed sheep without thought and ate them. society looked down on him, segregated him and when it came to winter he froze to death because nobody would sell him some woolen clothes.


      So... what comes of this hypothetical situation?

      Well.... maybe conscience and guilt are a way of ensuring that the individual conforms to a few basic rules of the society around them. The benefit of this is it ensures cooperation, and through cooperation the whole of the society can benefit. The island people, through cooperation and looking after the sheep can ensure that they are nice and warm in winter. I think that maybe conscience and other linked emotions may have become more prevalent as humans became more civilised. In a large, community situation you need these things otherwise nothing works.

      Of course, this is a really big generalisation. Different people have different consciences.... not all of them are to do with immediate survival (as in killing the sheep). Overall though, the base of what people think of as right and wrong and would therefore feel guilty about is built up on the society around them.[/b]

    4. #29
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      Consciece is just a function to ensure social survival, yes, and it branches down from survival in other things like culture, norms, morals, and respecet.

      In some cases, it does seem to be relative, no 2 consciences are exactly the same....well, they don't always seem to be. But it's generally a universal phenomenon. And when the highest reason is applied, everybody can agree on the collective conscience, I feel. Otherwise, everything else is what psychologists call "rationalization."

      Unfortunately, morals are viewed as nonsense rules to follow, and are not considered as a way to contribute to the highest good, and unless that happens, respect for it would not be exercised.
      naturals are what we call people who did all the right things accidentally

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