Re: SOC: As goes Kansas...(evolution)

Robert Owen (
Sun, 10 Oct 1999 17:16:02 -0400

Kathryn Aegis wrote:

> At 01:02 AM 10/10/99 -0400, John Clark wrote:
> >I agree. If good and evil exist independently of God then He has nothing
> >to do with morality except that He's supposed to obey moral law just like
> >everybody else.
> If Good and Evil exist at all--some of us view those as constructed concepts,
> based in ancient superstitions, and best left behind as we evolve.

I would agree, Kathryn, that specific concepts of positive and negative moral values are artifacts of human social organization (c.f. the debates between Rousseau and Voltaire) but the DISPOSITION to express feelings of pleasure and pain, attraction and aversion, security and fear, like and dislike etc. in terms of JUDGMENTS OF ABSOLUTE VALUE ("That is beautiful" rather than "That gives me pleasure" or "She is worthless" instead of "I don't like her) seems to have emerged very early in our evolution, and everyone has noticed that all efforts to negatively reinforce this tendency through education have been largely unsuccessful. We CAN change the consensual MEANING of these dualities, but we CAN'T seem to prevent their "construction" or the chronic compulsion to JUDGE THE VAlUE of something (as opposed to describing how we feel about it).

Speculatively, this may be a trait selected because it facilitates social control and stability, e.g. state-sanctioned capital punishment of murderers or incarceration of people perceived as a threat to the "general tranquility" by judging them "Evil" or "Vicious". And even, just as Bergson interpreted "Laughter" as an inborn technique for the of reinforcement of social norms, we use such judgments in an attempt to control others so that our needs are more likely to be gratified in interpersonal contexts.

If someone early on got more of what he/she needed by making aggressive moral value judgments (or submissive in order to "conquer by stooping"), his/her chances of reproducing more of the same would be enhanced and the trait might be indefinitely perpetuated as an involuntary behavioral determinant.

Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA