What do you think is the root cause for humans treating others so badly?  Money, religion, death, imperfect evolution, ...

Views: 1193

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That's a good one.  I take it you mean power-over, not power-to. 

How about power over children? 

when is power-over good vs bad, then? 

So power-over can be good when it's over a child. 

Any other situations where power-over is a good thing? 

I babysat a sister and 18 mos later a brother when I was in junior hs, yet years later in a college sociology class was surprised to hear of newborns as savages who are to be socialized. In this task there's some power-to and some power-over.

A challenge facing every caregiver? Gradually surrendering both powers.

it's interesting that we'd all agree that one has to have power-over children. 

But in other situations it's very dicey.  Even if the person is obviously impaired (say has Alzheimer's), power-over seems to violate human dignity. And it gives people a vent, a target if they need to hurt someone.  If they need a substitute revenge for someone who hurt them long ago. 

(so you might say, don't children have human dignity?) 

I've heard the saying, if someone wants to do you good, don't walk, run the other way!

Because they would be seeking power over you. 

Children are abused a great deal.  And when people wreak revenge on the helpless, it's often revenge for when they were helpless.  When they were children. 

People pass on their sadism, etc. through the generations ...

It might make more sense if humans were made so that children were born already knowing how to be human, and didn't have to learn it from scratch, with our super-flexible minds. 

Children believe and trust their parents - because their parents have the job of training them in being human. 

You can see how this training is necessary on a practical level - because humans have to adapt to many different environments. 

But there doesn't seem to be a need for this abstract openness of children, for having their parents teach them how to interact with other people. 

If children came pre-formed in this way, there wouldn't be this transmission of viciousness from generation to generation. 

Baaaad design ... 

God fucked up?

If god were a student in an engineering college, Tom, he would have gotten straight F's in design!

You can see how this training is necessary on a practical level - because humans have to adapt to many different environments. 

There are probably more different social and cultural systems among humans than physical environments.   Children have to learn not only how to survive in their environment but how to fit into their culture and society.  The only thing that is innate, unlearned, in humans is the motivation (not the skill) to take care of helpless children.  Humans have constructed social groups larger than the mother-child core only by inventing them and their some-times religious justifications.  So the children have to learn the social and cultural rules and beliefs of their parents.

The main source of evil--of man's inhumanity to man--is the competition among the groups that humans have invented and learned to fit into.  We evolved the psychological tendency to identify with the people close to us and the people like us and to take their side in any conflict with another group.  The traditional sociological language to describe this kind of conflict is "ingroup versus outgroup."  And it plays out today in everything from American drones bombing Islamic militants to police and vigilantes profiling young black African-Americans as criminals. 

As with most trees, this one has more than one root:

  • Desire for power and/or to control others
  • Failure to know or to own oneself
  • Failure to recognize reality

Religion can be traced to all three of the above, one way or the other.  Add to that a phenomenon I have observed: a person who is not self-possessed will either 1) look to control others, or 2) look to BE CONTROLLED, depending on their mindset.  That dynamic by itself is a perfect set up for any form of authoritarian organization, religion included.

I think Melinda hit it squarely on the nose. Power.

I've always been of the opinion there are three basic things which motivate human behavior. From the least to the most important are: biology (including sex and food), wealth, and power. Biological necessities such as sex and diet are one heck of motivator which will get people to do normal or strange things.  Convince someone you can control who they can sleep with, under circumstances, in what position, and what and when they can eat afterwards, the rest is a downhill slide.

Look at religion. It has the power to control biological drives.  People buy into that crap, and contribute the fruits of their hard earned labor to be told more of this nonsense. Which in turn gives churches wealth, which in turn use that wealth to control their flocks by pretending to sit on high and give insight and knowledge of imaginary things to the mere mortal gullible who buy into it.  And, their power controls the biology and wealth of their sheep - er, excuse me - flocks.

We all face survival pressure every moment of our lives, and continually make decisions that could be considered 'evil' or not, according to context.  If an alpha wolf disciplines or drives away a subordinate, is she displaying self-interested 'evil' behavior or are her actions consistent with the well-being of the pack?  Or are they the same?  We define right behavior contextually as we go along -- sometimes with codified aids like laws and religions that serve to dampen fluctuations and partially level-out individual impulses.  To a strong individualist, this leveling could be construed as 'evil', and to a strong socialist just the opposite.


Actually, biologically speaking, there is no survival pressure in Homo sapiens today. The government/medical machine forces H.sapiens to be born even when we're not fit, feeds us high calorie low nutrition foods so we can continue to serve the machine, and considers death something that "always happens too soon", as if death was something "wrong". We are not allowed to die, we're not allowed to not live, the Hypocratic oath has been twisted, instead of "do no harm" it's "imposition of life at all costs".
And for all the time in between, all our unfitness is counteracted by the medical/government infrastructure to ensure that no matter how stupid we are, we still get to partake of the "miracle of procreation" no matter the genetic defects reserved for the offspring.

There are no survival pressures. Everyone is "special"... all 7 billion of us.




Update Your Membership :




Nexus on Social Media:


© 2018   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service