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道德感中難以確認的部分 -- R. R. Britt
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Dark Morals Lurk Inside You

Robert Roy Britt, Editorial Director

Some morals are simple. Dark morals, not so.

The morals we all tend to agree on are the easier ones to

identify, things like not harming people or caring for the

needy, the thinking goes [though already this column

seems to be on shaky ground]. In space, these morals are

akin to stars, planets and other visible matter -- the

obvious stuff -- according to a theory by University of

Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt.

The darker morals (think exotic concepts like dark matter

and dark energy which are everywhere but nowhere) get

into more slippery things like group loyalty, respect for

authority, purity and sanctity, reports MSNBC's Alan

Boyle, who was in Phoenix over the weekend attending

the Origins conference where this was discussed. These

are the more obscure morals that account for things like

patriotism, conformism and taboos about sex and food.

Dark morals are the ones that different people have their

own views on. And, twisting a perfectly good George

Thorogood line, evubody's different.

Okay. Let's stop right there and go over some basics.

First, we are all moral hypocrites. Studies show this. We

judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves.

Second, morality leads to unethical acts. Again, science.

Okay, back to Haidt's ideas ...

Sex and food

According to Haidt, Boyle reports, conservatives tend to

focus on sex, while "liberals are getting increasingly

concerned with food." [I see a poll in the making.]

Haidt's ideas have been floating around a while, and they

get a lot deeper. In 2007, he published his thoughts in the

journal Science. Here's some of the questions he asks as

a way to -- let's use a cosmologist's jargon -- probe dark

morality:

"How much money would it take to get you to stick a pin

into your palm?

How much to stick a pin into the palm of a child you don't

know?

How much to slap a friend in the face (with his or her

permission) as part of a comedy skit?"

[Total aside: Researchers will do this for free. Check out

the video proving it.]

I can offer zero help on the above questions, but

personally I'm leaning toward keeping my mouth shut,

because they sound to me a lot the "when did you stop

beating your wife?" question. Moving along, Haidt thinks

we've evolved to a moral situation that involves three 

principles:

1. Intuitive primacy, which says that human emotions and 

gut feelings generally drive our moral judgments.

[Translation: Stealing that loaf of bread was justified for

Jean Valjean, but probably not for you.]

2. Moral thinking if for social doing, which says that we

engage in moral reasoning not to figure out the truth, but

to persuade other people of our virtue or to influence them

to support us.

[Translation: I can't believe you're a democan! Only

Republocrats have it right!]

3. Morality binds and builds, meaning morality and gossip 

[Apparently we are evolutionarily designed to gossip] were

crucial for the evolution of human ultrasociality, which

allows humans -- but no other primates -- to live in large

and highly cooperative groups.

[Dear reader, please offer up your translation to this one

in the Comments section below.--RRB]

"Putting these three principles together forces us to re-

evaluate many of our most cherished notions about

ourselves," Haidt explained in that 2007 article. "Since the

time of the Enlightenment ... many philosophers have

celebrated the power and virtue of cool, dispassionate

reasoning. Unfortunately, few people other than

philosophers can engage in such cool, honest reasoning

 when moral issues are at stake. The rest of us [I like that

Haidt sees himself as one of us, or at least gives us that

impression.] behave more like lawyers, using any

arguments we can find to make our case, rather than like

judges or scientists searching for the truth. This doesn't

mean we are doomed to be immoral; it just means that we

should look for the roots of our considerable virtue

elsewhere -- in the emotions and intuitions that make us

so generally decent and cooperative, yet also sometimes

willing to hurt or kill in defense of a principle, a person or a

place."

The meaning of everything above

As I understand it, there is a practical upshot of Haidt's

reasoning, and this jibes with something I've noticed a lot

in people I love and some I care a little less about:

Conservatives think liberals are idiots, and liberals think

conservatives are idiots. Or perhaps it's the other way

around, depending on your point of view.

"We all start off with the same evolved moral capacities,"

Haidt writes [in an apparent compliment to us all for rising

above the chimps], "but then we each learn only a subset

of the available human virtues and values. We often end

up demonizing people with different political ideologies

because of our inability to appreciate the moral motives

operating on the other side of a conflict. We are

surrounded by moral conflicts, on the personal level, the

national level and the international level.

Perplexed? Itching to learn more? Ready Boyle's blog and

follow his links.

Humans: The Strangest Species 

轉貼自︰

http://www.livescience.com/culture/090408-dark-morals.html

********************

編註︰dark一詞在此不是「黑暗」的意思,而是「不知道」或「不了解」的意思 



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大腦與同情感 -- J. Hsu
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Brain Struggles With Social Compassion

Jeremy Hsu, Staff Writer, LiveScience.com

Witnessing another person's physical pain registers more

quickly in the brain than compassion for social or 

psychological pain, but the latter leaves a much longer-

lasting impression.

New brain-imaging research showed an almost immediate 

"wince" reaction to seeing someone's physical pain. By

contrast the brain took 6 to 8 seconds to respond to

stories about social or psychological pain - a very long

time considering that neurons fire within milliseconds.

However, the brain's response to social or psychological

situations lingered for much longer than the response to

physical pain. That may suggest a more complex thought

process, compared to the instinctive evolutionary reaction 

to physical pain.

Compassion for another person's social or psychological

pain also activated some of the same brain areas

triggered by compassion for physical pain, and particularly

the region responsible for gut feelings, known as the

anterior insula.

"That area has been implicated before in all sorts of

studies about emotion, empathy and disgust," said Mary

Helen Immordino-Yang, a cognitive neuroscientist at the

University of Southern California.

This research also reflects one of the first brain-imaging

studies to focus on positive social emotions such as

admiration, rather than fear or pain.

"We specifically set out to look at admiration because it's

a social emotion that's important for the establishment of

moral systems, and it shows people what social behaviors

are valued in society," Immordino-Yang told LiveScience.

Immordino-Yang and her colleagues used short stories

based on real-life people to stir social emotions, such

compassion for physical or social pain, or as admiration

for virtue or skill.

The researchers then watched for differences in the

brain's response depending on whether the stories

involved social or physical situations. For instance, one

story told the tale of a 9-year-old girl with a dying mother,

while another told of the physical pain involving a soccer

player whose leg broke mid-calf.

A main difference among the social emotions showed up

in a central brain hub known as the posteromedial cortex,

which corresponds to a person's consciousness or sense

of self. Emotions relating to physical situations activated

brain systems relating to musculoskeletal control, while

emotions about social or psychological situations 

activated the gut-related area.

"It's almost as if we have a body in which to play out

feelings about other people's situations, but that body is

subdivided between the musculoskeletal system and the

gut," Immordino-Yang noted.

Admiration for virtue showed about as strong a brain

response as compassion for social or psychological pain,

and the same lingering effect. But admiration for physical

skill seemed to register lowest in the study.

Immordino-Yang plans to continue her line of research and

better understand how social development happens - an

interest that dates back to her years spent teaching in a

junior public high school outside Boston and around the

world.

The full research is detailed in the April 13 issue of the

journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind 

10 Things You Didn't Know About You 

Study: People Literally Feel Pain of Others 

轉貼自︰

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090417/sc_livescience/brainstruggleswithsocialcompassion;_ylt=AoZ9JXfdmp6hS2OhjM8FtDIbr7sF



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