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Thread: Born good or bad?

  1. #1 Born good or bad? 
    Forum Freshman Rationalist's Avatar
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    Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers had very differing views on the human race. Freud believed that people were innately bad, and by bad I mean in ways like being destructive, cruel, and selfish. He believed that if it weren't for society telling us what we were allowed to do and what we couldn't, civilization would collapse. These constraints, he believed, created a certain discontent within people. This is because the Id(run by the pleasure principle), which is predominant when we are born and thus the most natural mind-set is constantly suppressed by society. This causes frustration. In Freud's theories he explains how we cope with this by methods such as sublimation. He used sublimation to explain our love of things like art i.e. painting, sculpture....ect, and various other activites that we participate in. Suppression of our animalistic instincts, he believed, was necessary if humans are to live in societal groups. Freud's pessimistic view of people could have partially came from various issues that he had faced in his life like his daughters dying, cancer, and Nazis. Regardless though, one does not have to do anything but watch the news to verify the validity of his claims.
    Now on the other side of the spectrum is the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that people are innately good, and that people can be described as, "positive, forward-moving, constructive, realistic, [and] trustworthy." Rogers believed that people, if given free will, would naturally move in a direction that would improve society and perpetuate the human race. He explained the evil he saw as primarily generated by cultural factors like money, prejudices, injustices, as well as things like a rough upbringing.
    So I would like to discuss this and get everyones opinion on who was more accurate, and anything else you would like to add about this.


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  3. #2  
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    A lot depends on how you define "good" and "bad".

    That said, it is well known that a significant amount (ca. 50%) of one's personality is innate and inherited. Personality facets such as shyness, aggression, socialibility, fearfulness, boldness, dominance, and disorders such as depression, antisociality, schizophrenia and compulsiveness all have significant inherited components to their expression (in addition to enivronmental effects). The inherited and environmental components of these personality traits are well established by identical twin vs fraternal twin vs unrelated sibling vs unrelated individual correlations.

    Gist is, some people are innately "better", and some people are innately "worse'...all of course depending on your definition of how "better" and "worse" relate to "good" and "bad".


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  4. #3  
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    Although I find it an interesting topic I am not that into it. But think that Roger guy is way of. Humans are naturally selfish; i.e. small societies do work (because being good to your neighbour also helps you); but the lager the group get less social control and people turn out for the bad (for society). So the driving force toward going to the bad is balance with social control, not because of factors as money, if wasn’t money, people will stride over loved ones, fire, water, food, …
    So I rather go for the Freud theory, Depending on how bad bad is
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  5. #4  
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    Freud, as usual, was so very close, and then he twisted things all out of recognition.

    Yes, when we are first born, we are aware of only our own needs.
    We progress; we become aware of non-essential desires and of other people. We learn that certain behaviors will encourage others to assist us in fulfilling these desires. We learn to play nice; that is not a denial of our true natures, it is a development of our natures.

    Freud saw everything in strict dichotomy. That is not the nature of life; there are no absolutes, so there can be no absolute opposites and oppostition.
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    The inclusive 'Nature And Nuture', may be more appropriate than the exclusive ultimatum: 'Nature Or Nurture?'
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    As far as I know Freud was insane. Although, I do respect his insites and believe that alot of what he had to say was not a waste.

    I'm not too sure about this Rogers fellow though.

    I do believe we are all good once we can break free. You may notice my sig. Truth as some would call it, release of all cravings , seeing the world as it is without judgement, etc. Once we surpass our egotistical prison we are free (we realize truth) and freedom is inherently good.
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    I agree a lot with what j said. I think people persue "good or bad" actions depending on what should benefit them most. I dk if freud ment people are innatly evil regardless of this, or are evil because it is instinctual path an person takes to be happy. But something in dichotomy i think you can make here, is that people tend to be either pessemistic or optimisting. pessemistic ones causing "bad" and optimistic causeing "good".
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    Rationalist's commencement of this thread, is among the best summations Truly Yours has ever read.

    Then, there's not just Freud and Rogers. There's also Adler and Jung.

    Freud's - relatively non controversial - masterpiece CIVILIZATION & ITS DISCONTENTS probably deserves a mention in this thread. It's not much over 100 pages duration and it's brilliant. Then there's Jung's MAN & HIS SYMBOLS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by silylene
    That said, it is well known that a significant amount (ca. 50%) of one's personality is innate and inherited.
    Are you sure? I wonder how this can be tested, apart from obvious psychological disorders (you'd need to test it all at a very young age, otherwise some socialisation has allready taken place).

    Anyway, I think a very large part of our character is 'nurture'. A young child doesn't even know what 'good' and 'bad' means, s/he has to learn that from it's parents and others. So I think that when we're born we're neither 'good' nor 'bad' and only, as J allready mentioned, aware of our own needs. Just like animals: is a lion 'bad' because it hunts for food? It doesn't know any other way to live. If you wouldn't teach a child anything it would stay in this 'natural state', not knowing how to live apart from at the expense of others (stealing or killing for food). But I wouldn't call such a child 'bad'.
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    born to be good or bad? of course not, different cultures have different good/bad things, therefor we cant be born to be either good or bad.
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    The problem I find with the preceding replies (except for one) is that good and bad have not been adequately defined (which one poster pointed out). Do we mean good for the individual, for the family, for the social unit, for the tribe, for the nation, the species, the biosphere, intelligent life in the Universe; do we mean for the short term, the medium, or the long term, for the moment, or for a million years; do we mean in terms of survival, of pleasure, of minimising suffering, of maintaining the status quo, of progressing?
    Without a proper definition the discussion will through up apprent disagreements that simply reflect different perceptions of good.
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    As silylene mentioned (as well as others later) we must define "good" and "bad." Couldn't one use "bad" traits for the good? Traits normally considered bad could surely be used for a more positive purpose. In this case, would they truly be bad? ... Could not a good person be worse than a bad person at certain times, or an overally "bad" person do more good than a good person could achieve in a given time period?
    Anyway, those are just my insights.
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    I don't think that people are born good or bad. If al people were born bad it wouldn't be bad to be bad and the same would count for good. I do think tough that people need rules to keep up, or else everything would be one big chaos.

    Being good or bad has everything to do with wat you learn and what you experience in life. If you are reased by a criminal father the chances of you becoming a criminal too are a lot higher then when you have parents who find law verry important. Though when you have always been bound to rules it is possible to happen that you are sick of those rules and start criminal activities. Maybe there are some genetics involved but i don't think so.

    An other important thing is social boundaries. if you have a strong bond with your parents or friends you wil be afraid of loosing them. Criminal activities could do this. Perhaps your friends won't ever talk to you again or you will disapoint your parents so much that it wil never be the same. It can also work the other way round. if your best friends steals CD's at a local shop and tells you to do so only the 'strong' people wil be able to say no.

    This is only my view on good and bad. And my definition of bad is not living to the rules (such as criminals) and good is just the opposite.
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    yes i was just thinking about this a few minutes ago whilst walking to the shop. if u think about it nature is harmonious - everything - plants, animals, the elements all work in systems that balance each other out in a way. (i would elaborate more but it would take pages and pages). then humans came along and things started going wrong. are we mutants? with our intellectual progression - as opposed to evolution - we have begun to destroy our environment. it would be interesting to go back in time - all the way back - to the point that the human being became self-destuctive by nature. hmmmm....this kind of thinking always makes me wonder if every event occuring in the universe happens becasue it is written in some-big-universe-gene-thing or whatever OR is everything happening by chance due to spontaneous event causing life to come into being??
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    doc; you don't have to go very far back. at some point every one fed on self-killed meat protected his by force and in general not a very nice person. not to far north of you some degree of this is probably going on today. good or bad, though is questionable.

    the baby example, is logical and i agree. even "back then", the baby grew up in the environment and past downed practices of its society and never considered good or bad. The dawn of civilization, must have a real meaning.

    nature is harmonious and cures its own problems. the tiger tracking down a rabbit for dinner or man driving a car is of no importance. nature has enough problems correcting its own malfunctions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Quote Originally Posted by silylene
    That said, it is well known that a significant amount (ca. 50%) of one's personality is innate and inherited.
    Are you sure? I wonder how this can be tested, apart from obvious psychological disorders (you'd need to test it all at a very young age, otherwise some socialisation has allready taken place).

    Anyway, I think a very large part of our character is 'nurture'. A young child doesn't even know what 'good' and 'bad' means, s/he has to learn that from it's parents and others. So I think that when we're born we're neither 'good' nor 'bad' and only, as J allready mentioned, aware of our own needs. Just like animals: is a lion 'bad' because it hunts for food? It doesn't know any other way to live. If you wouldn't teach a child anything it would stay in this 'natural state', not knowing how to live apart from at the expense of others (stealing or killing for food). But I wouldn't call such a child 'bad'.
    i whole heartidly agree with you. good and bad i believe are results of socialization. if you had a kid alone, with no others(granted this wouldnt happen, the kids got to have a mother and father;just stick with me) around, the kid would have no other influences of what good and bad are. in fact, as said above, he would remain in an "animal state". good and bad are all morals, and everyones morals are different, but society and ancient society has imbedded certain morals that i believe are a result of religion into socialization.

    i would also like to say hello, as i am just joining this site, and this is my first post. im in high school, i am a junior, and i would like to pursue the profression of phsycology following my graduation from high school.
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  18. #17  
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    I don't see how it isn't just simple enough to say we were born to survive? I also agree with most of you that it's hard to believe we were born good or bad and also that it's impossible to define good or bad. That all depends on how you were raised and your societal beliefs.
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  19. #18  
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    This simplistic question has so far been treated here mostly philosophically. Since we are in a science forum, why not deal with it scientifically?

    For example, our behavior has evolved just as surely as has our biology. We evolved in hunting/gathering groups. Like all mammals, we have a network of social instincts that influence our behavior. As with all the other mammals, these instincts mostly have to be conditioned or focussed by the behavior of others in the group, that is, by the “culture.”

    I remember as a youth following a path across a forest meadow which was blocked by a herd of cattle. As I approached, three bulls separated from the herd and trotted towards me throwing their long horns around in the air. I was forced to go AROUND the herd.

    The three bulls were the Alpha males. At considerable possible risk to themselves (I was armed), they were defending not only THEIR females and the young but, as well, the Beta males. However, should a pack of wolves have shown up instead, the Beta males would have rallied and backed up the Alphas to better protect the females and the young.

    But with us, our societies (herds) have grown so large they cannot any longer be “families” or communes. We were forced to adopt the monogamous marital system even though we are a semi-polygenus species.

    This very well illustrates how difficult it is for culture to direct behavior that is not instinctive.

    In other words, our moral systems are practical codes that help insure that we all have our social instincts foccussed in much the same way so we can operate as a group of society with less dissention and hence more efficiently. Man is neither “good” nor “bad” but SOCIAL.

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  20. #19  
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    I disagree with a few of your statements.

    I don't know "our behavior has evolved", as most scientists use the word.

    No matter how large our societies grow, we will still form families within the society, whether we define them by blood, law, or love. In practice, we define them by all three, with different emphasis in different circumstances.

    Finally, not to be flippant, your example is not convincing unless you present evidence that the cattle knew you were armed; after all, YOU were not waving long horns.

    But I do agree with your final point, one made as long ago as in Antigone; humans are social before moral.
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  21. #20  
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    J wrote:

    "No matter how large our societies grow, we will still form families within the society, whether we define them by blood, law, or love. In practice, we define them by all three, with different emphasis in different circumstances."

    Of course. This even has parallels in the sub-liasons and cabals in the typical hunting-gathering groups. If we agree that mankind is instinctively a social animal, why quibble?

    Regarding the bulls, are you saying that a stranger boldly advancing on a herd is not going to be seen as a threat by the Alpha males?

    You say that human behavior has not evolved? Please tell me where it came from then? I am dying to learn!


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  22. #21  
    Forum Ph.D. Steve Miller's Avatar
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    Hello!

    Interesting was it was said the good always wins. Why was that? Why does the evil not loose always?

    Only answer I have, you cant watch the evil while being loosing.

    Hope this one was within the rules. Sense it does make, I mean.

    Steve
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  23. #22 Re: Born good or bad? 
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    Sigmund Freud was a realist and Carl Rogers was a hippie.
    Simple.
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