link:evolution of ethics   

                  BIOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF ETHICS:

                                         'EVOLUTION OF ETHICS'

              "..what is missing is the 'evolution of ethics'!"  Wilson Sociobiology: 562

theme: The question of evolution of ethics is a question for 'sociobiology'.  Sociobiology is the systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behaviour. 

PROBLEM OF ETHICS

  The modern American meaning of ethics is based on the modern American concept of morality. Ethics is defined as both the "science of moral values and duties" and as the "study of the ideal human character, actions and ends." (Webster)

SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF NATURAL ORIGINS OF HUMAN VALUES    An evolutionary approach to the study of ethics involves scientIfic analysis of the natural origins of human values... altruism and other attributes of 'homo sapiens' i.e. 'human nature'.  Homo sapiens is an ethical species. The human being is an ethical being'. Human nature is essentially ethical. Ethical human behaviour can be explained in terms of evolution through the natural selection.

 Evolution of 'ethical' behavior could be explained in terms of the natural selection process. The 'evolution of ethics' is a component of the evolution of growth processes and the psychology of development. The process of individual psychological development can be explained in terms of survival value of intelligent and 'moral' or 'ethical' behavior. Explained in biological terms - in terms of the natural evolutionary process and natural selection - the origins of 'ethics' could be defined in terms of the evolution of ethics.

The biological organismic valuing process is 'embedded' in the biologically based developmental process. then the evolution of ethics is a part of the evolution of growth and psychology of development. The natural organismic valuing process is a function of intelligence. Intelligence is the basis for adaptation and survival in human evolution. The basis of 'ethics' or 'morality'... morality is a function of moral intelligence ... of survival value to the human organism as a social organis.  SIGNIFICANCE OF AN EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF ETHICS the biological principles which appear to be working reasonably well for animals can be extended to the social sciences

SOCIOBIOLOGY AS AN EXTENSION OF POPULATION BIOLOGY  Sociobiology is an extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization. ...

scientific analysis of the natural origins of human values....an understanding of human nature can be obtained from the combined perspectives of biology and the social sciences - anthropology, sociology, economics. 

 conscience is a biological phenomenon like growth, digestion and so on ...

MORAL INTELLIGENCE AS MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS OR 'CONSCIENCE': KNOWLEDGE OF RIGHT AND 'WRONG' i.e. 'INTUITION

 Moral intelligence is a function of moral consciousness or 'conscience'... require for adaptation and survival in human evolution... then the 'evolution of ethics' is a term which refers to a significant part of human evolution generally. 

The human conscience is an 'emergent property' of the human brain - a 'social brain'.

CONSCIENCE IS AN EMERGENT PROPERTY OF THE BRAIN AS A WHOLE The brain is a biological structure of extreme complexity... an organic system involving the transmission of electrochemical signals or 'nerve impulses' along nerve cells or 'neurons' and across their interconnections the 'synapses'. There are more than one hundred billion neuronsa a nd on each neuron there might be from several hundred to several tens of millions of synaptic connections. As a result of the behaviour of these elements of the brain, properties emerge as 'emergent properties' of the whole. An emergent property of a s ystem is one which can be explained by the behaviour of the elements of the system even though the elements themselves do not have that property...a clear example of an emergant property is the liquid property of water... though the water molecules themselves are not liquid, their chemical behaviour results in the liquid property of water. The property of 'liquidity' is an 'emergent property'.

One of the emergent properties of the brain is moral consciousness or 'conscience'.               

      Conscience is a biological mechanism which has the function of preserving integration of the personality...is the product of evolutionary processes.... conscience evolved through natural selection as a result of its survival value to the human organism's need to adapt to a complex social environment. Development of the human conscience has survival value for the human organism as a social organism which depends on intelligence for social adaptation i.e. 'social intelligence'.

As an emergent property of the brain as a whole, the conscience must still be explained in terms of neural process. The questions to be answered are the following: what is the exact mechanism by which conscience results from neurological processes in the brain? How is conscience explained by physical processes such as transmission of nerve impulses along neurons and across  synapses?

 The conscience is formed by neuronal processes in the lower brain...dreams are a manifestation of the conscience... ...one's personal identity (intrinsic motivation, personal goals etc.) is the result of the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their behaviour

  Conscience is a biological mechanism which is the product of evolutionary processes.... conscience evolved through natural selection as a result of its survival value to the human organism's need to adapt to a complex social environment. Development of the human conscience is necessary for the survival of the human organism in a complex social environment and the human species in a complex intercultural environment.

 DEFINITION OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF SPIRITUAL VALUES BIOLOGY OF ETHICS Morality is biologically based...the 'free spirit' - the moral being - is the purest expression of human nature.

 THE INDIVIDUAL IS INSTINCTIVELY RESPONSBLE TO HIMSELF FOR HIS OWN POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OR 'SELF-ACTUALIZATION'. This natural responsibility to his own biological and psychological existence and self-actualization constitutes the ethical value called 'virtue.'

The natural valuing process is a part of normal human development.

 Morality is a function of normal human development in the context of inner freedom. "Acting out of freedom includes the moral laws... on a higher level than those actions which are merely dictated by moral laws...We are human in the true sense only in so far as we are free.

Knowledge of oneself - self-knowledge - overcomes the division between the subjective self and the objective world. During normal growth and development - with self-knowledge- the individual "brings the concept of himself to expression in his outer existence."

Along with the basic psychological needs, the 'metaneeds' of the value-life - spiritual, ethical and moral values - are instinctive and have a biological basis. They are components of the biological life.

The spiritual or value-life of the human organism is natural and fact based... legitimately qualified for scientific analysis.(Maslow).

MOTIVATION BY THE METANEEDS IS 'METAMOTIVATION'  Motivation for the gratification of the 'metaneeds' of 'humanness' is 'metamotivation'. A full definition of the human organism, the person and the individual must include 'metamotivation' for gratification of the metaneeds. 'Metamotivation' is an intrinsic part of human nature.... biologically based and instinctive. ... the instinctive 'metaneeds' must be gratified in order to prevent 'illness' or 'metapathology' ... 'diminutions of humanness.' This notion lends itself to the potential transcendence of unnecessary dichotomies such as good and evil. Rather than belonging to a domain external to human nature, spiritual values and the value-life are components of the biological basis of human nature. The 'B-Values' are defined as truth, goodness, justice, beauty etc... 'Metamotivation' and the gratification of the 'metaneeds' for the 'B-Values' or value-life ...mutual exclusiveness implied in the dichotomy.

 NATURALISTIC VALUING SYSTEM: ANNOTATION OF "TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF BEING" (Maslow) Using a scientifically objective approach, it is possible to formulate a so-called 'science of ethics,' a value system based on the natural laws of human nature and human existence. It requires an investigation into the real nature of the individual human being both as a member of the human species and as a unique specimen. As a member of the human species, each human being has a biologically inherited 'intrinsic conscience' based on the unconscious perception of his own human nature. In addition to the conscience, each individual has a unique potentiality manifested in a personal decision making process which is based on his own will, responsibility, strength, courage and needs.

HUMAN NEEDS: HIERARCHY IN TERMS OF URGENCY OR 'PREPOTENCY'

For the scientific formulation of a natural value system it is necessary first to make the distinction between 'higher' and 'lower' needs. Both 'higher' and 'lower' needs are shared by all members of the human species. The 'lower' needs include the basic physiological needs, the need for safety, the need for belongingness, the need for love and the need for respect. With varying strength in terms of urgency they are related to each other in a hierarchical fashion. The need for food is more pressing, more prepotent, than the need for safety, which in turn is more prepotent than the need for love etc. Also known as the 'deficit needs' ('D-needs'), the 'lower' needs rely on sources outside the individual and depend on other people for their gratification.

An individual makes personal decisions on the basis of the need which must be gratified before he can be motivated by another 'higher' need. He naturally makes decisions within the framework of an equivalent value system, that of the so-called 'deficit-values' ('D-values'). Motivated by deficiency needs, he can be described as 'deficiency motivated.' ('deficit motivation') He perceives other people in terms of their usefulness as sources of gratification for his need deficiencies rather than perceiving them in terms of their own intrinsic values. Dependent on other people, he must be flexible and responsive to their reactions. Thus relying on changeable factors in a non-reliable social environment, the deficiency motivated individual is prone to anxiety, to hostility and ultimately to a lack of freedom. His interpersonal relations are limited and interchangeable because they are based on need gratification. Once the individual has gratified his basic 'lower' needs during a normal growth process, he becomes less dependent on others for the gratification of the 'higher' needs for growth, creation and production, also known as 'Being needs' ('B-needs'). For gratification of the B-needs, the individual relies on his own inner resources. Making his personal decisions on the basis of B-needs, he naturally makes his choices within the framework of the equivalent value system, that of the 'Being-values' ('B-values'). Motivated by the Being needs for growth, he can be described as 'growth motivated'. The growth motivated individual becomes independent of other people for the gratification of his growth needs. Characteristically autonomous and self-sufficient, he experiences 'true' freedom and enjoys the pleasure of insight. He has the capacities characteristic of mature growth or 'self-actualisation': to make decisions in his 'true' self interest; to perceive other people in terms of their intrinsic qualities; to have a non-judgmental, non-interfering attitude towards others; to perceive reality holistically. His comprehensive understanding of other human beings forms the basis for his meaningful interpersonal relations.

HUMAN ORGANISM AS SOCIAL ORGANISM  The understanding of the development of morality depends on the understanding of the human organism as a social organism. As a social organism, the human individual depends for survival on the proper functioning of the human brain - a 'social brain'. Survival of the human species depends on progress in moral science, on 'spiritual progress', on the instinct for human interconnectedness and human solidarity variously designated as 'human brotherhood' and 'universal love'.

With progress in moral science, people cooperate and help each other, people cooperate and work together, channeling their creative energies towards their own and each other's human needs.

VALUES AS ROOTED IN HUMAN NATURE

 "Values are rooted in the very conditions of human existence; hence our knowledge of these conditions, that is, of the 'human situation', leads us to estabishing values which have objective validity; this validity exists only with regard to the existence of man; outside of him there are no values." (Erich Fromm. Values, Psychology, and Human Existence. Ed A. Maslow. New Knowledge in Human Values. New York: Harper Brothers 1959. p. 153)

  As the biological organismic valuing process is 'embedded' in the biologically based developmental process then the 'evolution of ethics' is a part of the evolution of growth and psychology of development. If morality is a function of intelligence and intelligence is a function of adaptation and survival in human evolution, then the 'evolution of ethics' is a term which refers to a significant part of human evolution generally - individual psychological development in terms of survival vlaue. Evolution of 'ethical' behavior could be explained in terms of a natural selection process. See Sumner's book Folkways (1927) which inspired Maslow to formulate his concept of instinctoid human nature etc..

OPERATIVE VALUES The operative values are those values which make up the inner core of human nature. They are the biologically based 'instinctoid' values (Maslow Psychology of Being) inherent in the intrinsic yearnings and preferences of the organismic striving for self-actualization and self-transcendance. Operative values are related to the organism's inborn capacities and talents. They are indicated by preferences of behavior which lead to the fulfillment of basic physiological and psychological needs of the human organism. Denial or frustration of any of these needs, capacities or yearnings leads to psychopathology which can be manifested as 'evil'. Maslow concludes from his scientific study of human nature : "our deepest needs are not in themselves dangerous, evil or bad."

 EVIDENCE FOR BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF SO-CALLED HIGHER VALUES

theme: human survival depends on communication via the spiritual life which incorporates the human values. Survival value of spiritual values: the spiritual values have a biological function. Spiritual values preserve the interconnectedness of human organism as a social organism.

 "At the 'higher' levels of consciousness, the individual lives by values which preserve the interconnectedness of human beings: justice, truth, beauty, freedom, generosity, love etc." The dichotomy 'selfishness vs. unselfishness' disappears. (Walsh Beyond Ego...)

 Survival of the individual and the species depends on a non-existent dichotomy selfish/unselfish.

BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF VIRTUE Those human attributes which are of value to the child in a social setting are the same attributes which we call 'virtues'. As a social organism, the child is happy in his work in a social environment in which the attributes for adaptation to the social environment... Virtues are of survival value to the social human organism. Virtues and the value life are of survival value and...biologically based. The philosophical analysis of 'virtue' becomes equivalent to the biological analysis of the social values which are of survival value to the organism. "the Science of Value' Robert Hartman in Maslow A.H. ed. 'New Knowledge in Human Values' Harper, 1959 

 SIGNIFICANCE OF AN EVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF ETHICS ...BIOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF ETHICS the biological principles which appear to be working reasonably well for animals can be extended to the social sciences (Wilson) Sociobiology is an extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization. ... scientific analysis of the natural origins of human values....an understanding of human nature can be obtained from the combined perspectives of biology and the social sciences - anthropology, sociology, economics. ..."what is missing is the 'evolution of ethics'!" As the biological organismic valuing process is 'embedded' in the biologically based developmental process then the 'evolution of ethics' is a part of the evolution of growth and psychology of development. If morality is a function of intelligence and intelligence is a function of adaptation and survival in human evolution, then the 'evolution of ethics' is a term which refers to a significant part of human evolution generally - individual psychological development in terms of survival vlaue. Evolution of 'ethical' behavior could be explained in terms of a natural selection process. See Sumner Folkways (1927) which inspired Maslow to formulate his concept of 'instinctoid human nature' etc..

IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATION Education based on knowledge of human nature

'holistic education'

 

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Ethics is not the authoritarian conscience or 'superego' (internalized authority of father or society).

Ethics is a matter of 'humanistic conscience' ...the inner core of human values which is common to all human beings...the real and rational human conscience is the source of natural value judgements .. the inner core which is common to all human beings, our 'human nature' Evolution of ethics is a question for sociobiology.

 SOCIOBIOLOGY - THE SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF ALL FORMS OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR IN ALL KINDS OF ORGANISMS INCLUDING MAN...an understanding of human nature can result from the combined perspectives of biology and the social sciences.

SOCIOBIOLOGY: ON HUMAN NATURE genetic basis of ethical values, scientfic analysis of the natural origins of human values... evolutionary approach to the study of ethics...scientists and humanists should consider together the possibility that the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and bioligicized... Moral science or the 'science of value' ...the study of the biological development of 'morality'. ... evolution of ethics on the following basis... human virtues are the operative values of the human organism ... the human psychological needs for self-actualization and self-transcendance required for integration of the human personality and resulting in social responsibility...the human conscience is the biological mechanism for the integration of the human personality in a social enviroment... breakdown of the integration mechaniusm results in neurotic and psychotic human behaviour... evil human behaviour results from frustration of complete developnment of the human conscience...development of the human conscience requires environmental conditions...safety and emotional security whiuch comes from unconditional love...to foster growth ....