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How Did Our Conscience Evolve ?

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posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 06:07 PM
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a reply to: Blue_Jay33

This is a very anthropocentric perspective to take. A dog could equally argue that human morality is different from "true" (dog) conscience.




posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 06:10 PM
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I thought this was relevant so I am posting it.



According to Dr. Lorenz, geese possess a veritably human capacity for grief. In his conversations with laymen, he would frequently say, "Animals are much less intelligent than you are inclined to think, but in their feelings and emotions they are far less different from us than you assume." Quite literally, a man, a dog, and a goose hang their heads, lose their appetites, and become indifferent to all stimuli emanating from the environment. For grief-striken human beings, as well as for geese, one effect is that they become outstandingly vulnerable to accidents; they tend to fly into high-tension cables or fall prey to predators because of their reduced alertness.

After the death of his beloved mate, Ado attached himself to Dr. Lorenz. According to Dr. Lorenz, "...Ado would shyly creep up after me, his body hunched in sadness, and he would remain motionless about 25 or 30 feet away." Ado spent the remainder of the year sad and isolated.

There have been reports of pair bonds that are so strong that if one goose is shot down by a hunter, the partner will circle back. Drawn by its need to stay with its lifelong companion, the single goose will often ignore the sound of shooting and return to die with its mate.

Widowed geese have been observed circling around and around, crying in heartrending sorrowful tones when their partners die or are murdered by hunters. The remaining goose may mourn for a period of time and then mate again. Or they may mourn for the rest of their lives and never seek another mate. Just as with people, it varies with individual geese.



posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 06:32 PM
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a reply to: Blue_Jay33


when humans were little more than cavemen--- we were like the monkeys on a monkey island in a zoo...

there were bad-apple monkeys which would steal, sneak, even rape..... which of course other monkeys would see happen in real time.....

early man and contemporary monkeys had no Law System in place ---- so individuals created a moral code that was formed by witnessing those other 'crimes' that bad monkeys did to innocent members of the community...

thus the idea of a 'conscience' was realized, because the witnesses were afraid if they acted as those other bad individuals -that act will likely be seen by others and the scorn and repulsion by the community would possibly be deadly

so a self imposed governor of behavior came about- and we call it 'having a conscience'

conscience sprang from not wanting to be guilty of a bad act



posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 06:52 PM
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a reply to: St Udio

Doesn't that go against the whole idea of survival of the fittest in evolution.


edit on 2-9-2015 by Blue_Jay33 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 07:15 PM
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originally posted by: Blue_Jay33
a reply to: St Udio

Doesn't that go against the whole idea of survival of the fittest in evolution.




just how do you think that....

a conscience keeps one in the good graces of the group/tribe/community


but a theif/rapist/outcast would be a pariah and unwelcome into the village or group... but that was before the Jews/& later the Muslims found it nice to be able to 'stone' offenders
edit on nd30144123936402162015 by St Udio because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 2 2015 @ 07:27 PM
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a reply to: St Udio

Personally speaking, being ostracized from society can prove to be a horrible, long term and painful situation. I think I'd prefer the quick death to the lonely painful one.

And I don't believe in the death penalty, but would prefer death to being ostracized.

Does that make sense?




posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 08:58 AM
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a reply to: Blue_Jay33

Animals have an understanding of right and wrong, and even an abstract understanding that gives them empathy. Of course, each in varying degrees, and each displayed in the way that each particular animal is capable of displaying.

Thus, when your dog is sick and the other dog goes and sits on his head...that is empathy. To us it may seem like dominance, or just being rude. To a dog...its protective.

Conscience arises from empathetic insight. IMO.



posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 10:13 AM
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HOW DID CONSCIENCE EVOLVE?


Great question. Here's the answer I think is correct:

  • Conscience is instinctive, but it is malleable in humans as all our instincts appear to be, and is susceptible to conditioning.

Most of the foregoing discussion has been about this lability of conscience. Some people have been using it as an argument that conscience is simply learning — the internalization of group morality. I don't want to go into all that. I'm more interested in the OP's question:

  • If conscience is instinctive, it must have evolved. How did it evolve?

Because we are social animals, we have two sets of instincts. One set is selfish: we do our best to avoid pain and hunger, we seek pleasure, status and reproductive opportunities.

Another set is social, that is unselfish or altruistic: we care for our young and members of our kin group who find it difficult to care for themselves, warn others of danger, return favours, cooperate to achieve common goals and so on.

Very often situations arise in which our selfish instincts conflict with our social ones. The selfish instincts, which are so powerful, could then impel us to act against the best interest of our genes (which ultimately is what all this is about) by overcoming our social instincts in situations where following the latter would reap a greater reproductive benefit.

A counterweight is needed. Over time, natural selection favours individuals in whom the selfish instincts are in balance with the social ones. This is true of all social species, even fairly primitive creatures like shoaling fish. But in higher animals, those with some ability to think and feel (born-again Christians are a good example), this dynamic tension between opposing sets of instincts causes feelings of temptation, guilt, shame, remorse, confusion, and so on. Meanwhile, the Christian's rational brain is seeking out ways to understand why he or she feels like this, and wondering how to feel better.

This complex of thoughts and feelings, a product or manifestation of consciousness, is what we call conscience.

Does it affect our actual behaviour? I don't think so, except among people in whom moral conflict becomes an obsession and a torment — people whose consciences are driving them crazy. In such cases it could lead, over time, to inappropriate coping behaviour, psychotic episodes or suicide. But for most of us, conscience is really an after-the-fact kind of thing. Our moral actions, like all our actions, are initiated at a pre-conscious level, where the promptings of conscience (a faculty of consciousness, remember) cannot affect them.

I acknowledge that this is a rather materialistic way of looking at it, but then, that's how I look at most things. I certainly don't see any great mystery about the evolution of conscience.


edit on 3/9/15 by Astyanax because: of an attack of conscience.



posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 12:20 PM
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a reply to: Barcs

No response to this, Blue Jay? You made a claim but completely ignored my counterpoint. How is conscience separate from the brain? How is it different? You can't just make stuff up as if it's true and then ignore everybody's questions about it. Please explain yourself.


edit on 3-9-2015 by Barcs because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 01:03 PM
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originally posted by: TzarChasm
a reply to: randyvs


Those who have a conscience
tend to believe in a supreme being.


i have met a lot of assholes who attend church regularly.

Don't think attending church says anything about whether you believe in a supreme being or have a conscience, most go for the pot luck.









posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 01:19 PM
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a reply to: Barcs




No response to this, Blue Jay? You made a claim but completely ignored my counterpoint. How is conscience separate from the brain? How is it different? You can't just make stuff up as if it's true and then ignore everybody's questions about it. Please explain yourself.


Do brains have consciences? I've never met a brain myself so I cannot say.



posted on Sep, 3 2015 @ 08:46 PM
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a reply to: Barcs

I have a new way of dealing with certain posters/discussions on ATS, I present my side, when the other person presents theirs, I leave at that, and then the neutral people can decide. I am not trying to sway you anyway Barcs.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 08:32 AM
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I'm not a neurobiologist, but seems to me that everything that generates a neuronal response has to have some sort of consciousness. Even the lowliest of plants and microbes have to detect food, danger, etc - I think the only way you can do that is through some conscious mechanism. The more developed the organism, the higher the consciousness. Look at the octypus - a highly intelligent creature - it has to have a conscious awareness that enables it to perceive its environment.
Great article:

Octypus Genome Holds Clues to Uncanny Intelligence

www.nature.com...

This article is long and complex, but gives an idea of how consciousness evolved.



Consciousness also appears to have emerged at some point in evolution. Perhaps occurring initially as a “helpless-spectator” epiphenomenon, consciousness then assumed
control of its biological environment (Jaynes, 1976). The emergence of consciousness in our brains (during each conscious moment, during evolution and during the development of each human being) may be likened to new properties of materials which develop from
microscopic or quantum-level events. For example, the distinct properties of superconductivity and superfluidity emerge from materials as their individual atoms reach a
high level of coherence. In these cases, ordered alignment or coherence is due to lowering temperature to near absolute zero to reduce thermal oscillations. Consequently, at a
critical degree of coherence, totally new macroscopic properties (superconductivity, superfluidity) emerge (Leggett, 1989).
This paper suggests that consciousness may emerge as a macroscopic quantum state.

hameroff.com...



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 10:50 AM
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originally posted by: Astyanax

HOW DID CONSCIENCE EVOLVE?


Great question. Here's the answer I think is correct:

  • Conscience is instinctive, but it is malleable in humans as all our instincts appear to be, and is susceptible to conditioning.

Most of the foregoing discussion has been about this lability of conscience. Some people have been using it as an argument that conscience is simply learning — the internalization of group morality. I don't want to go into all that. I'm more interested in the OP's question:

  • If conscience is instinctive, it must have evolved. How did it evolve?

Because we are social animals, we have two sets of instincts. One set is selfish: we do our best to avoid pain and hunger, we seek pleasure, status and reproductive opportunities.

Another set is social, that is unselfish or altruistic: we care for our young and members of our kin group who find it difficult to care for themselves, warn others of danger, return favours, cooperate to achieve common goals and so on.

Very often situations arise in which our selfish instincts conflict with our social ones. The selfish instincts, which are so powerful, could then impel us to act against the best interest of our genes (which ultimately is what all this is about) by overcoming our social instincts in situations where following the latter would reap a greater reproductive benefit.

A counterweight is needed. Over time, natural selection favours individuals in whom the selfish instincts are in balance with the social ones. This is true of all social species, even fairly primitive creatures like shoaling fish. But in higher animals, those with some ability to think and feel (born-again Christians are a good example), this dynamic tension between opposing sets of instincts causes feelings of temptation, guilt, shame, remorse, confusion, and so on. Meanwhile, the Christian's rational brain is seeking out ways to understand why he or she feels like this, and wondering how to feel better.

This complex of thoughts and feelings, a product or manifestation of consciousness, is what we call conscience.

Does it affect our actual behaviour? I don't think so, except among people in whom moral conflict becomes an obsession and a torment — people whose consciences are driving them crazy. In such cases it could lead, over time, to inappropriate coping behaviour, psychotic episodes or suicide. But for most of us, conscience is really an after-the-fact kind of thing. Our moral actions, like all our actions, are initiated at a pre-conscious level, where the promptings of conscience (a faculty of consciousness, remember) cannot affect them.

I acknowledge that this is a rather materialistic way of looking at it, but then, that's how I look at most things. I certainly don't see any great mystery about the evolution of conscience.



THIS^^^ simple and elegant explanation is worth repeating!




posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 02:18 PM
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originally posted by: Blue_Jay33
a reply to: Barcs

I have a new way of dealing with certain posters/discussions on ATS, I present my side, when the other person presents theirs, I leave at that, and then the neutral people can decide. I am not trying to sway you anyway Barcs.


That isn't new. You've been doing it since I've seen you post here. You make blatantly wrong statements and then ignore the people that show you precisely why it's wrong. It's not about sides, it's about facts vs opinions and lies. Why start a thread if you aren't willing to even discuss your own topic?

You won't even explain what a conscience is, yet you expect folks to discuss it with you? I guess I'm going to go make a thread about invisible fairies. How did fairies evolve? Let's discuss!

I get it, you just want to preach your religion. Maybe you should do it in a positive way instead of a deceptive dishonest way that attacks science and ignores folks that understand it.

edit on 4-9-2015 by Barcs because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 11:29 PM
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a reply to: windword

Why, thank you, windword.

Recently, I was having a similar discussion on Facebook about the origins of morality. My own view is that morality — that is, moral sense or conscience — is an evolved function, but morals — behavioural prescriptions — are consciously formulated. Since they are mostly formulated by authorities in a hierarchy and their goal is social cohesion and action on a large scale, they do not always follow 'natural morality' very closely. This is the source of a lot of confusion.

Here's an interesting article about that, which is also somewhat pertinent to the OP question: Why big societies need big gods


edit on 4/9/15 by Astyanax because: of rampant plurals.



posted on Sep, 10 2015 @ 10:20 PM
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a reply to: Blue_Jay33



So if animals don't have it,


That is demonstrably false, you know. So that part of the question can be ignored as misinformed misdirection.



and humans are born with it, the question is how did it evolve ?


That part of the question is a really good question.

I suspect the answer involves biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, nutrition, paleontology, climatology, mathematics, neurology, economics, and ecology, to name just a few of the contributing disciplines.

Off the top of my head, just as I'm typing this sentence, some things we need to understand before we can approach the question are: is there a difference between 'conscious' and 'sentience'? 'sentience' and 'intelligence'? Is there a relation between 'complexity' and 'chaos'? 'chaos' and 'random activity'?

In my opinion, the most vital clue to understanding 'conscious', 'sentience', and 'intelligence' would be the understanding of chaos theory.

Is the brain a 'dynamical system' as discussed in chaos theory? If so then, as in all dynamical systems, the initial conditions would be the key to 'trajectory' of the development. Most animals are conscious, many are sentient, some are intelligent. Why is that so? Presumably different initial conditions and different 'wiring'.

Many people have discussed how 'mere' chemical processes could become 'conscious'. My personal favorite is Douglas Hofstadter in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Wait, what?... Oh... you said 'conscience' not 'conscious'.




edit on 10/9/2015 by rnaa because: (no reason given)



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