Were we born with Altruism and a Conscience?

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I’ve seen a lot of debates online lately within the comment fields and random forums, and I’m not talking about the typical religion & politics arguments, either.  Actually, I usually try to steer clear from religious subjects and politics, unless I’m just in the mood to stir up some shit; ha-ha!

Anyway, I’m seeing a lot more queries about evolution, consciousness, conscience, altruism, anthropic principles, and so on.  Although those particular  subjects are seemingly more interesting than your basic science versus religion debates, they often start getting to the point where it really doesn’t make a damn difference either way.
At least these people are using their brains for thinking and whatnot, but some times it seems like it would be more productive to focus on your own problems and mundane life, as opposed to being online exchanging thoughts with a bunch of people who are, for the most part,  unqualified idiots that think they have unravelled the properties of the universe simply because they had a little too much drugs, alcohol, or way too much free time on their hands. LOL!

At any less than ordinary rate, I’ll get back to the main subject at hand:

altruism

Were we born with altruism and a conscience?

Hopefully, in due time, I’ll have some gurus show up in my comment field with their opinions, so that anyone who reads this post, can become enlightened with such infinite wisdom, and so on…

As for my answer: I really don’t know for sure. It seems that humans (along with most other life) are born with a lot of natural instincts and pre-installed cognitive functions, so I’d say that we are born with a conscience along with altruism, but it develops with personal experience and your surroundings, etc.  I know at a very, very young age, I sure had a conscience due to my strong feeling of right & wrong.  Altruism sounds like a ‘born with’ trait that evolved right along with survival skills…

Okay, I’d like to think that most of y’all know what ‘conscience’ is:  “consciousness of the moral right and wrong of one’s own acts or motives.”

Altruism is “unselfish interest in the welfare of others.”  “Pure Altruism” is when you give something of value (a reward or benefit) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct or indirect (for example, receiving recognition for giving).  Although altruism is considered “unselfish,” it often seems selfish to me, when you analyze it a little further.  Feeling good and gaining a higher level of self-importance from giving something to somebody, providing food to someone, helping someone in need, etc., is sort of like getting something back, just not in a material sense.  I suppose it depends on how you look at it, and what type of people we are dealing with.

On a quick change of subject, while searching for online debates featuring the “were we born with altruism and a conscience?” question, I stumbled upon a semi-related topic.  Have you ever heard of the Tabula Rasa?  Uh, well, I haven’t heard of that one before, not that it was a big loss or anything, just saying…  Well, in case you didn’t know what in the hell it was:

“Tabula rasa is the epistemological (a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge) theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favor the “nurture” side of the “nature versus nurture” debate, when it comes to aspects of one’s personality, social and emotional behavior, and intelligence. In Western philosophy, traces of the idea that came to be called the tabula rasa appear as early as the writings of Aristotle.  However, besides some arguments by the Stoics and Peripatetics, the notion of the mind as a blank slate went largely unnoticed for more than 1,000 years.”  You can read more about this subject online, as I’m not taking up much more space for the “blank mental state” theory, as we have enough blank minds out there as it is…

In closure and in my opinion, when dealing with the question about whether or not we were born with altruism and/or a conscience, I’d say there is more debate about the altruism than the other.  With that being said, I’ll provide a couple related links below – one is a fairly large Wikipedia page, and the other link is to some random debate on a philosophy forum that I’ve never been to before: 

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism  
* http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/why-pure-altruism-43608.html

—End of Post “Were we born with Altruism and a Conscience?”

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