Human nature is characterised by the need for truth,
which will never allow us to remain
in a false and unreal world.
L. N. Tolstoy
Morality as an ethic value is related to the categories of altruistic and egoistic behavior. The inner ethics of every individual depends on his philosophic view on the world and life. Hence, the function of moral ideas was differently interpreted by various researchers in the separate temporal and social conditions. We will start by presenting two diametrically contrasted theories about the beginnings of altruistic behaviour.
There are theories that altruism is not a high ideal, but an instrument-implement constructed by exploiters for protection of their interests. In order to survive in the world, the true exploiter (idler) coerced the producer (the creative man) to work for him. Initially, they were doing it with tyrannical methods, but as soon as the people devoted to thinking and creativity learned how to defend and became as strong as the tyrants, the need for altruistic philosophy appeared. Aware of the ineffectiveness of their mind, exploiters had to develop altruism, by which they guaranteed certainty to themselves in he sense that someone can always complete the work for someone that cannot. By misusing morality they ensured their existence at least for a certain period of time. With altruism they convinced the creative men voluntarily to sacrifice the products of their rational work to the benefit of the passive egoists. In this respect, altruism is wonderful indeed since those who accept it are not defeated by it, but it persuades them to defeat themselves. Altruism spread rapidly because it was accepted by intellectuals.
But there are other theories indicating that altruism exactly was generated by intellectuals (Cant) in the time of humanism and renaissance, when for the first time in history reason and science started to become so productive that the idea of altruism only helped intellectuals keep their production and protect it from annihilation. Through altruism they wanted to distribute their production throughout the world, and to guard it from the egotistic undertakings of destruction.
The primary dilemma that emerges in the dispute about the origin of morality is if it is strictly connected to human personality or is imposed from the outside as a sociological model of behaviour. The question rises of whether people a priori are determined for the good, i.e. whether morality is immanent to man cherishing the hope for salvation or we should stand on the side of those who believe that people are destined for the evil and that man is an irreparably selfish and aggressive creature on whom morality is forced from the outside. A few relevant responses to the referring issue can be provided.
The first response will be found in the acts of the theoreticians inclined to deny the role of human nature in the formation of moral principles. They stick to the theory that moral principles are foisted on man by a certain external source. In the ancient Jewish civilisation it was believed that morality is inflicted on man by Jehovah. Hence, this conviction spread in all religious communities and was a basis of the theological concept concerning the origin of morality. Later, the theological concept was abandoned but the conviction remained that some external agent thrusts the moral principles upon man. Most frequently, these are the social institutions.
Lately anthropologists have been preoccupied with thoughts moving in this direction. They start from the fact about the identical biological accoutrement of the human kind, but they perceive it only as material by means of which the variety of cultural institutions are formed. One of them is Klaide Klonchon1F, who claims that there is no natural human predestination for the good or for the evil, but that in this aspect there is an extremely flexible biological background from or by the help of which there can be formed with the same efficiency both a society of peace-loving and constructive citizens governed by the principle of altruism, and a society where egoistic and aggressive people are dominant. He finds an empirical support for this relativistic anthropologic option in the numerous investigations into the different way of living and understanding of morality in the separate civilisations, from the most primitive to the most contemporary. In addition to this thesis, we will mention the researches by Margaret Mid, who in her book The Maturing of Samoy says “the human character and human possibilities depend on the ways of educating young people, and on social conventions that are prevalent in the society where man grows”2F. Regarding the deliberation of human nature problems, particularly interesting are Ruth Benedict’s pages where he analyses the distinctive contrast between the governing forms of behavior of the tribes Zunia and Dobu. For the members of the tribe Zunia the ideal man is dignified, with an affable conduct, compliant nature, and generous heart. Contrary to this, on the island of Dobu, a treacherous war of everyone against everyone is underway, which is tantamount to the natural state imagined by Hobbes. For Dobu people, the good man is a successful man who manages to take over someone else’s position by concealment and shrewdness. For them virtue is in the choice of the victim upon whom one can give vent to his malevolence.3F From the above-mentioned it is easy to believe in the so-called absolute dominance of cultural forms.
According to this view, morality is not inherent to human nature but it is formed depending on the role of cultural institutions. This means there is no single morality but there are as many moralities as there are cultural communities. One more conclusion could be drawn out of the foundations of this anthropologic relativism. If from the aspect of value, so different social institutions can be shaped with an identical biological accoutrement, then it is difficult to determine special type features in human behaviour, and where there are no regularities it is difficult to speak of an application of a scientific method. That human deportment is controlled and directed, and not free and responsible, confirm not only the adherents to anthropological relativism but also the psychologist Skinner in the book, Science and Human Behaviour4F, in which the doctrine of personal freedom is disputed. These radical attitudes question the humanistic image of human freedom and make relative the ideas of the good and the evil by treating man as a neutral creature.
1. Klaide, Klonchon: Initiation – Antropologie, Bruxelles, str. 267.
2. Margaret Mid, Sazrevanje na Samoi, Beograd, 1978, str. 12.
3. Rut Benedikt, Obrasci kulture, Beograd, 1976, str. 192.
4. See at Skiner, Sience and human Behavior, New Jork, London, 1965, str. 448.