Thursday, December 24, 2009

Altruism and the child, the child's integrated and "simple" vision.

The paradox seems to be that cooperation and helping our fellows does cater to ingrained human selfishness as initial gatherer societies have shown in implementing the will to survive. The anomalies /paradoxes now seem to be vested in our very behavior in negating this primordial symbiosis in opting for intensified greed that will bring about and has brought about our downfall, as this present epoch has clearly shown. Complications in human motivation are so often smokescreens as to our baser natures, completely absent in the inbuilt altruism of the child. The writings of Janusz Korczak have repeatedly brought the childhood scenarios and purity to light. When children encounter social norms and arising distinctions, is this often deleterious to their altruism which they have already have ingrained in themselves ?

Biologists studying small children are finding that they naturally have a desire to help others. The children, aged 12-18 months, are quick to help an adult find something they have misplaced or dropped. This behavior changes by the time they reach three years of age--the same time at which they begin to grasp the concept of social norms. Rather than showing everyone equal treatment, they will treat those who have been nice to them in the past better than those who haven't. By this age they have experienced enough interactions in their lives to develop ideas of the correct way to act.
In the end, it seems to come down to a battle between the in-built altruistic nature and the in-built selfish nature of humans.
Cooperating in humans goes back to hunter-gatherer societies; a group working together can gather more food than a single man working alone. The necessity to communicate and work together to find food served as a basis of human nature, introducing cooperation and language into society. We have been conditioned to help, because we need it to survive

Image: "fantos fastens" by Brightroyalty on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing
Remi Gurak's blog
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