There is a concept of innocence that is commonly associated with children.  Do you also believe in this concept?  And if so, how do you define it?  Do you believe it only applies to children?

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I feel like I have a concept of innocence, defined as the lack of my concept of evil.  Evil is the intention to harm or exploit others.  It doesn't only apply to children, and it doesn't always apply to children, although I believe we are all born innocent.  I suppose it can still theoretically indicate a lack of guilt if I assume people should feel guilty for being evil.

(By my definition, capitalism is inherently evil, because it is fundamentally based on exploitation.)

Interesting.  Having worked 39 years as a teacher, of ages ranging from about 9 to adult, I suspect it's largely an idea adults have about children, based on wishes and faulty memory.  You want to hear blood, violence, and gore, talk to seven-year-old boys.  They may be innocent -- ignorant? -- of some behavious, largely sexual, but not the Disney-animal-in-the-forest innocent we ascribe to them.  I may be wrong (and I'm sure to be set straight here), but I'd say innocence is more a matter of having options, and choosing the one least likely to harm. 
So then you do also believe in the concept of innocence, just not the traditional religious version.  Is that what you were saying?  Also, you can't be wrong about this, as you are telling us your opinion! :P

Does your version of innocence apply only to children?  Or can people of all ages share the same innocence?  Also, are you saying the lack of sexual knowledge (or experience) is part of your definition?
If you want to talk about traditional religion, Christianity has been preaching Original Sin for a long time.  St Augustine wrote at length about his greed as a newborn, and Catholics at least believe that unbaptized babies are denied entry to Heaven.  So much for Innocence.
The Catholic church might be the last place to look for innocence.  They deal (as do Jews?) more with guilt.  "All we have sinned and gone astray," etc.  (My translation is 'we are not worthy to be the goo between thy toes.')  One of my problems with xtianity is the idea that we cannot achieve good by ourselves.  As a Humanist, I believe we can, and often do.

Really? In my opinion, innocence is the state of being ignorant of 'negative' choices and consequences while avoiding them at the same time.

Innocence also tends to act on emotion rather than cost-benefit analysis - action before thinking. Another trait of innocence in my mind is the absence of paralysis - to be innocent the way has to cleared for you.


Just a few thoughts : >

I don't think youth are as innocent as their reputation. I had illegal behaviours from a very young age, and I was certainly not alone in this, even in my very small community. I think children are naive about humanities concepts they do not know about such as politics/economics/religion/sociology but I think children are much less naive about biology and the basic facts of life, the concepts that do not rely so heavily on human opinions and mythologies.

So it sounds like you don't believe in a concept of innocence, is that right?  According to you, nobody, not even youth, has it.  You are simply referring to the traditional religious construct and invalidating it based on evidence, right?

For example, I do believe in the concept, and I think of youth as innocent, but it has nothing to do with sexuality or obeying the law and everything to do with harmful or exploitive intentions.  I think of myself and my friends as innocent too.

I was thinking about this today, and there's more to this than I described.  Keep in mind, this is just an emotion I feel, and I'm trying to interpret it.  I was thinking that, for instance, an intentional rapist will have lost his/her innocence in my eyes, even if he/she no longer has any harmful or exploitive intentions.  I guess my construct of innocence assumes both an innateness and permanence of personality and character that don't actually exist.  Maybe I should just stop using it altogether.
That's an interesting article, although it fails to define innocence.  I think it's safe to assume it was referring to the traditional religious construct though.  I have read a couple academic articles about the myth of innocence and the idea of "adolescence," which I feel is also closely related.  "Mature" is a term that is used to refer to two distinct concepts often confused as one and the same, one being natural, biological maturation, and the other being the indoctrination of cultural norms.  A "mature" person reflects a culture's ideal behavior, which people are expected to mimic by adulthood.

It sounds like you are defining innocence as ignorance, right?

Unflattering reply - I think we project innocence outward based on our feelings of being vulnerable, and maybe memories of being hurt when we were young.  That makes your question more psychological than philosophical.

Children are weak and need to be protected, so we have instincts to project lovable features onto them.  My kids used to play with a family where the youngest child had great big blue eyes and an innocent air.  When the adults weren't looking, he would pop the bigger boys in the 'nads, then run to a grownup for cover.

It's an interesting theory.  Can you provide more details, maybe a guess at the process of development?  Feelings of vulnerability, memories of being hurt when one was young, and believing in the concept of innocence, are almost universal, so simply establishing correlation isn't very convincing (to skeptics).

About your story...  I think the question is whether this kid was actually aware of the consequences of his actions.  He sees the superficial result of his behavior, but has he taken the perspective of the other to see the actual harm it does?  I've been in a few situations with kids who were beyond playfully rough, but when I sincerely told them, "Hey, that really does hurt.  Do you want to hurt me?" it seemed to click, and when they next went for the punch, they stopped themselves.  This tells me they didn't actually have harmful intentions.  I'm sure they were still rough with each other, but I'm also sure none of them ever complained or invoked empathy with each other the way I did.  How do you think this applies to the blue-eyed kid from your story?



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