For ages, philosophers have argued about whether humans are born good or evil. According to Aristotle morality is taught to us. He also says that we are born as “amoral creatures”. Newborn infants are morally undeveloped, according to Sigmund Freud.
Is there anyone who has read “Lord of the Flies”?
If that’s the case, you can anticipate children to be full-fledged sociopaths ready to be let free from their adult-imposed restraints so they may form a cult and slaughter one another ruthlessly.
The two contrasting viewpoints of Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are perhaps the most renowned in this discussion. According to Hobbes humans are “nasty” and “brutish”. In order to survive, they require society and laws to rein in their impulses. Afterwards, Rousseau publicly criticized him, stating that without the taint of greed and inequity created by our society’s enforced class structure, man would be kind and pure.
Latest developmental psychology research has proved that mankind has some inherent “good” qualities. Or, to put it another way, youngsters are capable of making moral decisions at a younger age than previously assumed.
How did they accomplish it?
They forced babies under the age of an one year to watch a puppet performance in which various colored forms performed in morally correct or immoral ways that were easily notable.
A red circle is seen attempting to mount a hill. In the meantime, a “bad” blue square attempts to force it down to the ground, while a “good” yellow triangle tries to assist the red circle by pushing it upwards.
Following the performance, the babies were given the option of playing with either an evil blue square or a nice yellow triangle.
What do you think the babies will pick? Good or evil?
They all chose the last one, the triangle that demonstrated “helping” and “selfless” behavior, as you might expect.
The scenario is based on the findings of Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center research from 2010. It demonstrates that babies choose the puppets based on their behaviors than any other factors like inherent liking or affinity for a certain color or shape. Then they had repeated the performance with the shapes in the reverse roles. Even then, babies favored the shape that had assumed the role of ‘helper.’
Kyoto University conducted a research using a similar technique in 2017. It found matching results to the puppet study, implying that the results are correct. Kids about six months old were shown clips with three Pacman-like figures known as “agents”: a “victim,” a “bully” who smashed the victim into a wall, and a “third party” agent. The third-party agent may occasionally act to assist the victim by placing itself among the victim and the bully, and would occasionally escape instead. After seeing the clip, the kids were asked to choose their favorite character. Majority of them picked the intervening third-party agent who attempted to assist the victim.
Are we really born with altruistic behavior ?
Many additional studies have shown that newborns display altruistic behavior. Harvard’s “Big Mother Study” can be stated as an example. The newborns were unaware that they were being watched. Even then they were courteous and helpful to others according to the study. It implies that this isn’t merely a taught response to escape punishment or inspection.
These findings, however, cannot entirely reject Freud and Hobbes’ gloomy views on human nature. They believe that newborns are born with an innate preference towards altruistic behavior. Parents should always be confident when it comes to abandoning their kids on a desert island. Because still it’s not the smartest choice if they are attempting to crush the weakest one with a rock.
Are we really born good or evil ? What are your thoughts on the matter?