Innate tendencies are constant features, buried deeply in the human psyche.
Innate tendencies are not rigid forms but are patterns of organization that
collect individual, biographic content. Innate programs are the form and
biographical details are the content. There are two essential principles:
- Innate tendencies exert a persisting motivational force even though new
learning may override them.
- New learning is added to, but cannot replace old tendencies.
Recurrent patterns of behavior in human societies reveal innate tendencies.
Similarities in emotional expressions in animal and humans reveal innate
tendencies. Brain function has evolved conservatively so that old features of
the reptilian brain remain intact in modern humans and the best new features
such as detailed, declarative languages have evolved naturally by the
elaboration of older communication systems shared by many animals. The more
cognition is studied in other animals, the more obvious it is that most
"thinking" is nonverbal and is well distributed in nature. Other animals
may not think in the same way humans do and no other animals rely on language as
we do, but all animals communicate using different strategies for encoding and
decoding information. Most animals are specialized for specific environments
and, if we competed on their turf, they could probably beat us in many ways.
The mind of a Bonobo and a chimpanzee exists in our mind; we have some
modifications and a few added features. Old programs include some of our most
negative qualities such as predatory and territorial aggression and anger. Some
of our most positive qualities are also innate such as the tendency to bond,
care for infants and form cooperative social units with altruistic features. The
old brain remains in control of our bodies and often controls our minds.
Schools have emphasized learning reading and writing, but no school is
capable of designing and installing language processors in the brain. Schools
add content to and exercise the already-existing language processors. Children
learn spoken language naturally and spontaneously but, left on their own, most
will not read and write.
Human destiny as a species still lies with the programs in the old brain.
Individuals can transcend the old programs by diligent learning and practice but
individual effort and learning does not change the genome. Whatever we value
about civilized human existence - culture, knowledge, social justice, respect
for human rights and dignity must be practiced anew and stored as modifications
of each person's neocortex.
Success at humanitarian efforts within a society reveals that portion of
human attitudes, beliefs and behavior that can be modified and/or are supported
by innate tendencies. Failure of moral authority reveals the extent to
which innate negative tendencies prevail no matter how diligent the effort to
modify or suppress them.
Each person must understand and modify four innate tendencies:
- The tendency to criticize, blame and punish others is inevitable in humans
and opposes the tendency to cooperate with and care for one another.
- The tendency to form exclusive groups and discriminate against others is
also universal and opposes the tendency toward tolerance and peaceful
- The tendency to covet the property of others, to lie, cheat and steal is
also universal and opposes the tendency to respect the integrity of the other,
to cooperate and share.
- The tendency to anger, hatred and killing is also universal and opposes the
tendency to recognize the common humanity in the other and opposes the
intelligence of seeking ones' own well being by protecting the well-being of
Rules imposed in the form of laws and forceful oppression can never achieve
the desired result since these devices can only restrain temporarily innate
negative tendencies. The requirement is to transform human negative tendencies
through a process of inquiry, self-scrutiny, liberal education, meditation and
participation in diverse, multicultural experiences with other humans.
The editor of Nature wrote:" Although history is not made entirely, or even
mostly, by prominent men and women, two great exceptions to that rule were born
exactly 200 years ago today, on 12 February 1809: Charles Darwin and Abraham
Lincoln. These men shared more than just a birthday, the loss of a mother in
childhood and a date with immortality. They shared a position on one of the
great issues of their age: the 'peculiar and powerful interest' of their fellow
humans bound in slavery. When he circled the world in the 1830s, Darwin's
delight at our planet's natural riches was repeatedly poisoned by the human
cruelties he saw meted out to slaves. "I thank God, I shall never again visit a
slave-country," he wrote at the end of the Voyage of the Beagle. It was common
at the time to believe that the different races of men had been created separate
and unequal. But the abolitionist beliefs that Darwin derived from his family,
friends and social setting strongly disposed him to the idea that all men -
Englishman and Hottentot, freeman and slave - were brothers united in shared
ancestry. The ability to see that unity-in-variety was one of the things that
allowed him to perceive something similar in the natural world as a whole.
all Darwin's noble ambitions, the century and a half since On the Origin of
Species have shown how easily his image of a fiercely competitive world can be
used to bolster pre-existing positions of power and privilege. The history of
arguments about humanity based on "biology provides a sorry
rehearsal of pretexts and apologias for everything from unthinking prejudice to
forced sterilization and genocide. This history counsels caution as ever deeper
and subtler forays into the science of human nature become possible. ..It is
vital, however, that this new knowledge should be judged by far higher standards
than the ideology passed off as biology that blighted so much of the twentieth
century. Scientists have beliefs about what is right and wrong, just like
everyone else. And try as they may to put them to one side - some try hard, some
not so much - those beliefs will influence the way they do science, and the
questions they ask and fail to ask. The scientific enterprise as a whole has to
pay particular heed to the risk that preconceptions will creep in whenever what
is being said about human nature has political or social implications. This is
particularly the case when science begins to look, as moral psychology is doing,
at the mechanisms by which people make decisions about right or wrong. Science
may be able to tell us why some values are more easily held than others … work
on altruism suggests, worryingly, that communities more normally need an outgroup to form against. Science insists on the value of truth even when it is
inconvenient or harmful; most people's beliefs tend to reinforce their