ReviewEssays.com - Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays
Search

Are We Born Good or Evil?

Essay by   •  May 7, 2019  •  Creative Writing  •  1,582 Words (7 Pages)  •  23 Views

Essay Preview: Are We Born Good or Evil?

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

Are we born good or evil?

Whether humans are born good or evil has been debated by philosophers for centuries. Aristotle argued that morality is learned, and that we’re born as “amoral creatures” while Sigmund Freud considered new-borns a moral blank slate. Anyone who has read “Lord of the Flies” will expect children to be fully-fledged sociopaths just waiting to be freed from their adult-imposed shackles to (spoiler alert) start a cult and brutally attempt to kill each other.

Maybe the two most (-X-) opposing views on this debate are those of Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Hobbes describes humans as ‘nasty’ and ‘brutish’, needing society and rules to reign in their instincts in order to (-6-); later Rousseau openly criticised him, arguing instead that man would be gentle and pure without the corruption of greed and inequality caused by the class system imposed by our society.

Recent developmental psychology (-7-) show there may be some natural “good” in humanity (or, to be more technical, that at least kids are capable of passing moral judgments at an earlier age than previously thought).

One of the studies shown on ‘Babies: Their Wonderful World” was conducted to demonstrate if and at what age toddlers showed a preference towards “good” behaviour.

To do this, babies less than a year old were made to watch a puppet show where different coloured shapes acted in ways that were clearly recognizable as morally right or wrong. A red circle is shown struggling to climb a hill while an “evil” blue square tries to push it back down. Meanwhile, “good” yellow triangle attempts to help the red circle by pushing it up.

After the play, the babies were asked which shape they wanted to play with: evil blue square or good yellow triangle. As you may have guessed, they all picked the latter, the triangle that exhibited ‘helpful’ and ‘selfless’ behaviour. This applied even for babies as young as seven months.

The scene replicates the findings of a 2010 study from the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University, which went further to prove that babies were choosing the puppets because of their actions rather than other variables (for example, an innate preference or familiarity with a certain color or shape). When the show was replayed with the shapes taking on the opposite role, the infants still mostly chose the shape that had taken on the role of the ‘helper’.

People have long debated if we are born bad and 'civilized' by society - or the reverse.

A 2017 study from Kyoto University had a similar approach and findings to the puppet study, seemingly confirming these results. Children as young as six months were shown videos featuring three Pacman-like characters, called ‘agents’: a ‘victim’, a ‘bully’ bumping aggressively against the victim and squashing it into a wall, and a ‘third party’ agent. The third-party agent would sometimes intervene to help the victim by putting itself between the victim and the bully, and would sometimes flee instead. After watching the video, children had to choose their preferred character and most chose the intervening third-party agent who had tried to help the victim.

Other studies have also shown babies exhibit altruistic behaviour, like the ‘Big Mother Study’ from Harvard, where infants who didn’t know they were being observed still acted kind and were helpful to others, suggesting that this isn’t just a learned behaviour to avoid punishment or scrutiny.

While these studies can’t completely disprove Freud and Hobbes’ more pessimistic views on human nature, they do seem to suggest that babies are naturally inclined to prefer altruistic behaviour and that parents can be fairly confident that, while leaving their children on a desert island is probably still not the best idea, they at least won’t try to squash the weakest one with a rock.

Justification

The sentences below are either true or false. First identify whether they’re true or not, then circle “True” if it’s true and vice versa. Last, quote a sentence from the article that justifies your answer.

  1. According Hobbes, humans are gentle and pure without the corruption of greed and inequality caused by the class system imposed by our society?

True                                False:

Justification:

  1. If parents leave their children on a desert island, the weakest child would be killed by others?

True                                False:

Justification:

        

Synonyms

Write down the most appropriate word in the article that has the closest meaning to the words below.

  1. “The scene replicates the findings of a 2010 study from the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University, which went further to prove that babies were choosing the puppets because of their actions rather than other variables (for example, an innate preference or familiarity with a certain color or shape).”

Which word in this graph is closest meaning to “Stooges”

...

...

Download as:   txt (6.6 Kb)   pdf (113.6 Kb)   docx (46.2 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on ReviewEssays.com
Citation Generator

(2019, 05). Are We Born Good or Evil?. ReviewEssays.com. Retrieved 05, 2019, from https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/Are-We-Born-Good-or-Evil/82807.html

"Are We Born Good or Evil?" ReviewEssays.com. 05 2019. 2019. 05 2019 <https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/Are-We-Born-Good-or-Evil/82807.html>.

"Are We Born Good or Evil?." ReviewEssays.com. ReviewEssays.com, 05 2019. Web. 05 2019. <https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/Are-We-Born-Good-or-Evil/82807.html>.

"Are We Born Good or Evil?." ReviewEssays.com. 05, 2019. Accessed 05, 2019. https://www.reviewessays.com/essay/Are-We-Born-Good-or-Evil/82807.html.