Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME FORUMS BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:12 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Part III: The Tower of Morality - Frans de Waal's Response 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 13976
Location: Florida
Thanks: 1966
Thanked: 753 times in 597 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)
Highscores: 8

Post Part III: The Tower of Morality - Frans de Waal's Response
Part III: The Tower of Morality
by Frans de Waal

Please use this thread for discussing Part III: The Tower of Morality.

This is the section where Dr. Frans de Waal responds to the commentators.



Sat May 02, 2009 12:50 am
Profile Email YIM WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

Gold Contributor 2

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 4949
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Thanks: 1084
Thanked: 1048 times in 818 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Frans de Waal Strikes Back!
(It's getting lonely out here. Anybody there?)

The hardest debates for me to assess are the ones where the debaters agree on the main points, but disagree mostly on the weight they give to those points. In matters of weighting, it’s hard to judge who might be right. How can it be proved, when two points are conceded as valid, that one is the lynchpin?

De Waal and his commentators agree that 1) sympathy-based emotions are important in establishing morality, and 2) that better-developed brains enabled morality to reach a peak in humans. It’s on the weighting that they differ. For the commentators (or at least for the latter three), the emergence of moral reasoning is so different from what other primates show that it is a discontinuity from the social emotions such as sympathy. There is something over and above the fundamentals de Waal observes in apes that is needed before we can say we’ve arrived at morality, and that something is the ability to think abstractly of the greater good, to be guided by this abstract thinking rather than by an emotional state, and to be able to compare our contemplated actions with a standard of action we have internalized.

Although he agrees that in other animals, nothing like this disinterested, impartial quality of our morality exists, this does not prevent de Waal from insisting that our evolved social nature is the necessary prerequisite for moral reasoning to exist at all. He cites Darwin and Hume in support. It is almost as if de Waal thinks that even the emergence of higher reasoning came at the service of the evolutionary benefit of more complex social development. A plausible case could be made.

In his rebuttal, de Waal defines morality as a group phenomenon. This in itself sets him apart from three of his commentators, who take morality to be expressed by the individual as a personal choice. De Waal would not be attracted to this view. We don’t create our own morality but absorb it from others. De Waal also spreads morality much further than do his debate partners. There are for him levels of morality, including all social controls meant to fairly allocate resources, while for the others, only moral reasoning is really morality. De Waal's emphasis tends to undermine the role of reasoning. Further eroding reason for de Waal is that we don’t reason as much as we claim to, anyway. We often assign reasoning to our actions after the fact, when in reality we have acted on more quickly triggered emotions. “Our vaunted rationality is partly illusory” (179).

And so de Waal arrives at his tower metaphor for morality. We can’t mount to the top of the tower (human morality) without acknowledging that we wouldn’t be there without the support of the lower structure (social emotions in both humans and other primates). “Even if human morality represents a significant step forward, it hardly breaks with the past” (162).


_________________
Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.

Clifford Geertz


Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:56 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Comandante Literario Supreme w/ Cheese

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2858
Location: Round Hill, VA
Thanks: 422
Thanked: 332 times in 253 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Frans de Waal Strikes Back!
DWill wrote:
(It's getting lonely out here. Anybody there?)



I'm not posting because I didn't read the book, but I have enjoyed reading your recapitulations of main points and comments.


_________________
"may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple"
- e.e. cummings


Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:03 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Comandante Literario Supreme w/ Cheese

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2858
Location: Round Hill, VA
Thanks: 422
Thanked: 332 times in 253 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Frans de Waal Strikes Back!
DWill wrote:
(It's getting lonely out here. Anybody there?)

In his rebuttal, de Waal defines morality as a group phenomenon. This in itself sets him apart from three of his commentators, who take morality to be expressed by the individual as a personal choice. De Waal would not be attracted to this view. We don’t create our own morality but absorb it from others. De Waal also spreads morality much further than do his debate partners. There are for him levels of morality, including all social controls meant to fairly allocate resources, while for the others, only moral reasoning is really morality.


Without reading a single page of the book I will stick my neck out to comment -- be kind if I miss entirely. I think I have some understanding of what you are meaning regarding de Waal's sense that morality is a group phenomenon. Here is what I have been thinking that kinda fits in with what de Waal is arguing. Morality would be unnecessary if we were not social creatures and I think the converse is true - we are moral because we are social creatures. The only way society can exist at all is if we agree to cooperated with one another and cooperation implies a level of fairness and fair play -- morality, right? If morality is a necessary element of society then maybe he is on target to say it is or can be a group phenomenon.

Quote:
De Waal's emphasis tends to undermine the role of reasoning. Further eroding reason for de Waal is that we don’t reason as much as we claim to, anyway. We often assign reasoning to our actions after the fact, when in reality we have acted on more quickly triggered emotions. “Our vaunted rationality is partly illusory” (179).


I think Robert Burton (author of On Being Certain) would agree with de Waal on this point. Don't you?


_________________
"may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple"
- e.e. cummings


Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:30 pm
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


BookTalk.org Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Featured Book Suggestions
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
    

Love to talk about books but don't have time for our book discussion forums? For casual book talk join us on Facebook.

Featured Books

Books by New Authors



Booktalk.org on Facebook 



BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSBOOKSTRANSCRIPTSOLD FORUMSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICY

BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
Sense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOur Amazon.com SalesMassimo Pigliucci Rationally SpeakingOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism BooksFACTS Book Selections

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2014. All rights reserved.
Website developed by MidnightCoder.ca
Display Pagerank