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Innate Morality: Are We Born Good or Bad?

The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all. – Origen

When we study humans, it is providential that some things are innate in humans from point of their creation.

The things which are innate, the need of food is the one we all know about as even a new born baby cries when he is hungry and when he is fed mother milk his crying stops and humans have world of desires and emotions also attached as in babies who did not even started to speak and walk when are happy smiles and are sad cry which shows that toddlers can experience the basic emotions of happiness and sadness.

The same way humans have innate concept of morality inside them – knowledge of good and bad – which is in its feature equally present and real as the need of food.

This innate morality is aeonian. From aeonian, it means that it is inside human since beginning till end – it is eternal and everlasting. It indicates that this is essential part of human existence and being. This is the element from which human personality is developed. This personality trait is also interpreted as human nature.

This essential element preset inside human is used to see and analyze the general world through tools that differentiate good from evil, to find out what should be prohibited and promoted in our societies, to evaluate human actions and the sagas of heroism and villainy of human history revolve around this basic feature of human nature.

The argument over whether humans are fundamentally good or evil has been raging on in earnest since antiquity and philosophy actually in reality can be considered as the study of this same theory on which philosophers put out their arguments.

If we consider than human nature is a narrative of human personality that humans have a perceptions and insight about themselves and also have knowledge about this perception and insight that’s why human have capability to study its personality and when a human study about its own personality than a testimony of this morality arises from his inside for which he did not need to depend on external sources as a human is not dependent on anyone to know about his own necessities in the same manner he did not need to depend on other for identifying this nature.

This innate existence of morality and knowledge of what is good or bad has also been proved scientifically. A 2007 study by Yale University’s Professors Paul Bloom and Karen Wynn, as well as Kiley Hamlin from the University of British Columbia, shows that six- and ten-month old babies can assess individuals based on their behaviour towards others.

They showed the babies with scenes involving shapes that represented both characters that were both “helperer – good” and “hinderer – bad”. When asked to point at or touch the character they liked best, in an overwhelming number of scenarios, the babies almost always chose the “good guy – helper.” Paul Bloom summarizes this study in the New York Times:

“In one of our first studies of moral evaluation, we decided… to use… a three-dimensional display in which real geometrical objects, manipulated like puppets, acted out the helping/hindering situations: a yellow square would help the circle up the hill; a red triangle would push it down. After showing the babies the scene, the experimenter placed the helper and the hinderer on a tray and brought them to the child. In this instance, we opted to record… which character they reached for, on the theory that what a baby reaches for is a reliable indicator of what a baby wants. In the end, we found that 6- and 10-month-old infants overwhelmingly preferred the helpful individual to the hindering individual.”

In 2010, Professor Paul Bloom’s research also proved that babies as young as three months old can make moral judgements about right and wrong. Put on a puppet show for 3-month-old babies and they seem able to tell the good guys from the bad, looking at the puppets behaving well for longer . The next year, Professor Kiley Hamlin published anotherstudythat suggests babies as young as eight months old embrace the punishment of “bad” characters.

This proofs that human are born good. We are naturally moral beings, but our environment can enhance – or sadly, degrade – this innate moral sense. The interaction between nature and nurture influences our behaviors and personalities.

We are not born blank slates as epistemological idea of “Tabula rasa” refers and recent studies and research are unwielding that we are certainly not moral blank slates but are born with certain moral capacities and the potential to have a strong moral sense and that this aspect of morality that we truly marvel at is general and universal.

As Thomas Jefferson put it—the moral sense is “as much a part of man as his leg or arm.”

Have We not made for him two eyes?

And a tongue and two lips?

And have shown him the two ways?

(Surah Balad verse 8-10)

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