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PSYC 3100
Hank Davis

PSYC 3100 – Week 2 Lecture 3 – September 17 Prevalent Views of Human Nature Blank Slate - Franz Boas; Emile Durkheim (father of social psychology); John Locke (philosopher) - Skinner – Radical Behaviourism? Noble Savage – romantic view, man and woman are peaceful, and then we get screwed up because society is evil and rotten and it infects us with lots of evil and rotten shit - Rousea - Natural is good; defects come from rotten society o Natural doesn’t mean good for you, chemical doesn’t always mean bad for you – we get overwhelmed with these kinds of messages o Tornadoes, hurricanes, cancer, earthquakes, AIDS, rage aggression, etc. = natural, are they good? - Romantic: the Peaceable Kingdom (lions lying down with lambs) o You don’t want to be the lamb! Ghost In The Machine - Anti-mechanical - Anti-biological o Biological universe becomes everything BUT us - Anti-deterministic o Cannot operate outside of cause and effect - Anti-reductionist o If you want to understand something on outside world until analyses down to cellular level – can try to make sense of it – ghosts in the machine says NONSENSE, you can never get close enough, haven’t taken soul into account - Pro-magical spiritual force o If you understand the entire human brain, you will still not understand human behaviour, science is not enough; it goes beyond natural law. Goes by supernatural force that we can never get our hands on - Souls – Free Will – Humans above Natural Law or Cause and Effect o Laws in natural world that effect all of us – If you drop water bottle, there is 0% chance that it is going to fly around the room and hit someone in the nose o You cannot defy gravity – you can have all the free will in the world, but you still can’t do it - “ Everything happens for a reason”, etc. o Stay in natural world – future events cause past events – no longer deterministic universe, but magic thinking universe  Entirely different view Threats to all these views of human nature - Blank Slate – examine cognitive science, reveals more and more innate algorithms for language, learning; hardly the same as saying blank slate. Genes – highly specialized to create certain behaviours - Noble Savage – anthropology has been producing strange data – picture ain’t pretty, go and examine various cultures, go back in time and look at people (even in primitive societies) that are untouched by rap music, tend to treat each other horribly – not the peaceable world out there. It would be nice if lion could lay down with the lamb – but it’s not going to happen o Behaviour genetics – behaviour substrates for BAD behaviour, your genes are natural, but many predispose you to many ugly behaviours - Ghosts in the Machine – cognitive science – computational theory of mind, neuroscience argues that mind is result of physical organ; don’t need mystical, supernatural things to account for data. Imagine 16 century scientists staring at 2013 Benz, what th would 19 century engineer think of iPod/laptop, etc. Can you wrap your mind around how difficult for that person to make sense of that piece of equipment – UNIMAGINABLE, would default to supernatural, being confronted by something almost unimaginable (music from strange devices, photos on screens) – has to be supernatural, nothing in natural world could do that o Literally ghost in the machine = your iPod to a 19 century engineer - Lots of fear in Evolutionary Psych – lots based on misunderstanding o Does not justify bad behaviour o Differences between species  Pinkerman – “difference between Einstein and a high school drop out is trivial compared to difference between high school drop out and the smartest chimp ever” – any human vs chimp (species) is massive - Humans stupidity = Dodo extinction; Dodo’s walked up to humans to say hello and find out what OUR species was and we clubbed them to death - If there was no such thing as human nature, then everything would be individual experience and culture - A blank slate is totalitarians dream – no limits on how you can shape people - nonsense, there are limits, these limits are evolutionary, capacity for passion, empathy, greed, suspicion – part of biological heritage, have been selected for. Why do they evolve? Cannot suppress them culturally therefore you ask what reproductive advantage did these give to our ancestors? o Every time you see some trait that’s universal in species, what function did it serve? Sometimes it does not come from mental module that evolved for that purpose, sometimes that trait is a bi-product of a different adaptation, almost as if that trait piggy-backed on some other trait that was selective o Can’t always jump to conclusion that what you are seeing necessarily served reproduction  E.g. facial recognition – pervasive human trait, probably is result of different kinds of selection. Religion – not single cultu
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