We are born in to a world of economies. We enter in to an economic transaction with the world and all the objects within it as soon as we are born,
everything is a transaction: love, work, death; each has a currency that drives a little economy of its own.
The following video is an excerpt from a 2013 TedTalk by Frans de Waal called Moral behavior in animals. In the video two capuchin monkeys are
"paid" unequally for performing the same "work", which consists of the monkeys handing a rock to the lab scientist and receiving food in
The monkeys like grapes best, and they will tolerate cucumber. One monkey is given a grape in return for its rock, and the other is given the dreaded
sub-meal of cucumber. Have a watch at what happens, you can ff to 1:15 if you want to cut to the chase, but I recommend watching the whole thing.
Frans de Waal and his team have performed this same experiment with the same results on birds, dogs and chimpanzees.
Knowing that, I have to ask: are all organisms neurologically, or biologically wired to expect to live and operate in a world of economies?
Because even if we could understand the economies of capuchin-monkey-culture, I doubt it includes rocks-for-grapes. The lab researchers made that one
up, and the capuchins and birds and dogs and chimpanzees, well, they must come pre-equipped somehow with the wet-ware that allows them to participate
in economies no matter what is being served for dinner.
And that must mean, then, that it is true that what glues us all together are “social contracts”. Contracts that dictate the definition of
“work” and “pay”.
Beginning with our cries as a baby that seal the contract with our life-giving mother, we learn to depend on these tenuous agreements between
ourselves and if one party changes things with no warning things can become disastrous.
If I knock out the “honey-do” list, I expect to get “paid” for that “work”, and if it's not what I expect? I throw the grape through the
bars. I'm not proud of it, but the candor of Frans de Waal's capuchins have humbled me
Do we struggle against the obligation of “doing right” in all of these economies? I know that I do. And what would it mean to the person that was
able to operate with excellence in all of these economies at the same time?
Wouldn't that be the achievement of “true happiness” or Eudaimonia? In a world of only
economies, for which we are so specially adapted, it seems to me that becoming very good at operating in those economies would be a sort of
What do you guys and gals think? “Wow” on the video, right? With the monkey pounding its demanding little fist? What is this weird symbiotic
relationship that we have with economies that we often find ourselves in economies where we have seemingly no input in to the social contract at all?
We seem to inherit them, these economies and at times it can seem like being trapped in a world that we never made
This is a very compartmentalized argument, however. A more appropriate test would be to put the monkey getting the grape through a more rigorous
series of "jobs" and then see what happens...
A. the cucumber monkey advance to the complex series of jobs in an effort to get a grape instead of a cucumber?
B. the cucumber monkey feel entitled to a grape simply because he exists, ignoring the additional labors and opportunity costs of the grape getting
C. the cucumber monkey try to lay claim to half of the grape plus keep his cucumber all while doing a fraction of the work?
Very, very infrequently (except when we're talking about pay for women in Obama's White House) are we discussing equal pay for equal effort in 2014.
The current argument rests a lot more on "I am entitled to more money because person XYZ is getting more money" in complete absence of the
perspectives of whether person XYZ is putting forth more effort, taking on more personal risks, or absorbing a greater amount of personal stresses.
Yes and in a world of greed at the top run rampant the very nature of fair economic exchange is failing under there weight, like a ship with too much
on top the economy runs the risk of collapse due to growing lack of wealth distribution and tax burden transferrance to the poorest member's of
There is nothing wrong with being rich but there is ethic's and lack of ethic's and today's economic model seem's hell bent on the lack of
ethic's greed is good model which fuels the growing poverty both the first and third world.
"Tax burden transference to the poorest"
Huh? Over half of America pays nothing in income tax at the end of the day and 2/3rds of them actually get more out than they put in. Are you
suggesting that more subsidies should go to the bottom half, paid for out of the sweat of America's middle and upper class? May I ask why? Just
existing doesn't entitle anyone to a share of someone else's earned income.
Thank you all for taking an interest in the thread and for posting your thoughts.
I have had this quote from Takuan Sōhō on my mind all afternoon. I suppose because it
has to do with giving and taking and rocks.
To think that I can perpetrate some unpleasantness on a man and avoid his verbal abuse-this is nothing but a manifestation of desire.
It is the kind of passion involved when a man gives someone a rock and, if the person gives him gold in return, becomes his friend; but if the other
gives him a rock in return, cuts off his head.
When a man praises another in glowing terms, such words are likely to be returned to him as well. But when he slanders another and, the slander being
given back in kind, cuts off the man's head and dies himself, this is desire. It is the opposite of right-mindedness and the height of stupidity.
The cheated monkey can see the other monkey perform an identical or similar task, yet they receive the same reward. So even monkeys can sense and do
not like undeserved favoritism.
I think in the more rigorous experiment that you suggest, the cheated monkey would aspire to achieve the more complex tasks if he was given the
opportunity. If he could not complete the advance task, I think he would accept the lesser reward with the understanding of why without being
I would even add a test where only one monkey was given the chance to complete an advanced activity for a better or additional award. I suppose not
being given a chance could also register as unfair.
edit on 30-4-2014 by Innermost because: (no reason given)
Very, very infrequently (except when we're talking about pay for women in Obama's White House) are we discussing equal pay for equal effort
That's true, and usually the ones doing more work are getting paid less. The CEO's are getting million dollar bonuses while the workers, who are
doing all the work that keep the company in business, are getting paid peanutes compared to the CEO.
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