Speaking of Chimpanzees
April 22, 2012Posted by on
Frances De Waal TED Talk on morality among mammals.
Today is a gloomy rainy cold April day in Boston. Sunday. I have to study at school. Sad already. Actually, studying is not sad at all for a nerd like me, but studying a subject that is taught by a totally lunatic brainless phony academic is just excruciating. I guess the type of less evolved lawyer (who stayed on the tree)(which also explained his demeanor). [chimpanzee shoutout #1]
But some tom yum soup, and a nice TED talk (which is becoming more and more rare) brightened up my day.
So Frances talked about a few experiments on mammals, illustrating them possessing some qualities that prompted behaviors that would be deemed “moral” in our human dictionary (which also is accompanied by some free loading activities, which kinda makes his arguments more convincing), such as monkeys showing anger when receiving less desirable treat and the one who actually receives nice treat refusing the treat (good sport!), monkey choosing token that give him and his partner food rather that the one only giving him the food (as long as the partner is behaving), and monkey helping others getting food when himself not wanting the food.
Then it comes to the best part of the talk: he said wall street protesters are just like the angry monkey who gets cucumber rather than grape for a task performed. Fanatic monkeys!!! [chimpanzee shoutout #2]
It is not only just fun to look at animals playing human. I really like the perspective (although have been under the influence of similar school of thoughts, it’s still nice to see real examples) supporting an holistic evolutionary theory. Also supporting my view that religion is only a phase in human history, a necessity to provide an explanation and a framework of human social morality, which would eventually be replaced as science advances. Religion captures, rather than dictates, what it means to be human. [atheist/agnostic redneck woo-hoo]
A conventional view towards world/life is structured; it gives order, conforming to our stability seeking instinct. The clear line drawn between human and animals is an example of that. Some things you ought to do as human, some things get frowned upon among humans, and some things are bad bad bad to do any humans.
But if we have a blurry line, and acknowledge the gradual nature of “morality” – view it as a spectrum, or better, a more fluid concept – and acknowledge the biological and evolutionary root of morality/human social standards, naturally we would be insecure. We don’t like vagueness.
De Waal was trying to show us the gradualism and spectrum. Discard the grand structuralist theory!
So what were they saying about language dictating thoughts in 1984? I dunno. Haven’t read the book yet. But I guess it is far from being a scientific argument.