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Thread: Explanation for mercy

  1. #1 Explanation for mercy 
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    I read about a theory which states that altruistic and moral actions are practiced by human beings because they make one to be loved, respected, and to have people who will help you in tight situations. If that's right, morality is related to the survival of a person. But what about the feelings of pity or mercy, which makes someone help others? Are they just the same as moralistic feelings? From where does it come?

    PS: Sorry for any grammar errors, english is not my native language


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  3. #2 Re: Explanation for mercy 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taquion
    I read about a theory which states that altruistic and moral actions are practiced by human beings because they make one to be loved, respected, and to have people who will help you in tight situations. If that's right, morality is related to the survival of a person. But what about the feelings of pity or mercy, which makes someone help others? Are they just the same as moralistic feelings? From where does it come?

    PS: Sorry for any grammar errors, english is not my native language
    If you have an enemy, that you defeat and he is at your mercy. I think the choise to kill him relies on his personality. (NOTE: Taking the example to the most extreme) If your enemy is a person with attitudes and beliefs close to your own youd want those traits passed on - and so you show mercy.

    On the other hand if this person sickens you and is a complete opposite of your own personality and belief i believe you can kill him with a clear conciousness because you consider him and his personality/beliefs a to dangerous a threat.

    EXAMPLE:

    A) I crash on an island with a guy i really like and is good. But we become enemies over something and fight, id show him mercy.

    B) I crash on an island with a guy that turns out to be a child murderer, that has dangerous and illogical beliefs and is just plain crasy. Id kill him instead because i wouldnt want that type of person to ever exist.


    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens
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  4. #3  
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    Interesting, so, the mercy feeling is also related to the survival instinct, if we analyse deeply?
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  5. #4  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Yes, I think it is very closely related to the survival instinct.

    Here are my thoughts on this. I think the way we show mercy to others is closely related to our ingrained feelings for how to care for kin members... to protect and love our family.

    It's very likely that those organisms who were more willing to show mercy and pity toward family members had their genes survive better across generations, and they likely out-reproduced those who did not show mercy to their family unit. As may be obvious, a failure to show mercy to one's own family would result in fewer of their families genes making it into the future. The genes of our family members are closely related to our own genes, so it makes sense to protect family as we would ourselves.

    After time, with this "show mercy and pity" toward your own family being strongly selected for, you will start to see the traits of mercy and pity becoming more common. You will start to see that those families with stronger tendencies toward mercy and pity do better than those who do not. As this continues through multiple generations, the tendency to show mercy itself likely took on greater significance, and was no longer limited to ones own family.

    Humans exist in troops, so it would also make sense to show mercy and pity to members of ones own troop (or, community), even if members of that troop were not direct relations. The survival of the troop also contributed to the survival of the individual, and consequently the likelihood that they could successfully pass on their genes to future generations. As this continued, it would be more common for mercy to be shown to other individuals, even if those individuals were not closely related or direct family members.

    Keep this logic going, and you can see that showing mercy to OTHER troops might also assist in success and survival. You gain strength in numbers, so bringing other troops into your own gives more strength and more community to protect members and use groups to find food and resources. Those who failed to show mercy likely were ostracized from the larger group, and then ultimately selected against.

    My suggestion is that, over time, the number of organisms falling into the group deserving of mercy grew far beyond ones own family, and then beyond one's own group. It's possible that the mercy response was itself so advantageous that it was itself selected for, until ultimately it continued to expand until it was applied to nearly all humans and thinking animals (we're not there yet, but I think we're trending in that direction).

    To recap, those who showed mercy to close family had their genes do better than those who did not. After several generations the desire/proclivity to show mercy and pity, the inclination to show mercy, began to present more strongly than the need to only show that mercy to close family. The mercy would be shown to other members of the group, and then even to other groups due to it being so helpful in aiding ones own survival (quid pro quo, tit for tat, favors are often returned, that sort of thing).

    The above is just a conjecture. I think those who showed mercy likely did better evolutionarily as family units and troops until ultimately the target of that mercy and pity went well beyond the family unit or troop, and began to include other humans and thinking organisms as a whole.
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  6. #5  
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    Thank you, I thought it was something like this, but couldn't get that far.
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