Sunday, June 11, 2006

Animal In Man

I just watched the Court TV documentary "The Human Behavior Experiment". It's interesting to think that although many of us talk the talk, the truth is that most of us are little better than animals if put in the right situation. Moral high-grounds become ever less stable as psychology digs up evidence about just how frail the social structure that makes society possible is. It also brings to mind Peter Singers brilliant book, One World: The Ethics of Globalization. Singer in this book brings up issues in which ordinary people convey a wish to live up to a moral high ground, yet which we know they fail to reach in reality. The morales we each profess do not necessarily reflect on our actions it seems. We aren't the makings of possible heroes, we could each find ourselves doing horrible things, all we need is a push in the "right" direction.

Final thoughts, bare this in mind when judging others, especially in group situations. An idea I love to claim is that nobody intended the Holocaust to happen. Just as in The Stanford Prison Experiment, normal moral people, when put into a given situation, build upon each other and collectively pursue horrible actions. As such, the holocaust simply stemmed from an idea of an enemy which got out of hand. Once the enemy was defined and perceived, people began building upon each other to create a horrible situation. There was no evil, as is often proclaimed, but simply an assertation of man, the beast with table manners.


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