Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blog #52 - Blank Slate



The three statements we discussed revolved around the same issue (which I borrowed from Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature) - when we're born, how do we learn?

Statement #1 - The Blank Slate concept is still influential today - fairly divided the classes.  The BS idea influenced policies in education and politics today as students mentioned regardless of whether the concept was valid, but in 3rd hour wondered how DNA fit into the whole scheme.  Some of you asked - to knock the concept down - how do babies know how to roll over or lift their heads?  How do they know how to suck right away?   How could they have learned those skills if they've never had any interaction w/ other babies?   Babies are constant learning machines, but are they truly blank slates?

 - in Pinker's book, he discussed how the civil rights and women's equality movements cemented the BS concept further in the public's mind, because these movements showed that once treated equally, women and minorities would flourish like white men (hence, we're all equal). 

Statement #2 - Mankind is basically good but society corrupts him/her - this one was a lot tougher to decide upon b/c students could agree w/ part of the statement but disagree with another part.  It seemed that a group of people ended up in the "I Don't Know" category.  This concept has been influenced by the discovery of the New World and the comparison of the Native Americans to Europeans.  The Europeans, in their conceit, couldn't understand how the Native Americans seemed to live in relative peace and harmony (compared to the Europeans and their religious wars), and many philosophers and writers felt that it was a lack of civilization, society or religion that kept the Native Americans conflict-free.  Pinker states that this concept is called the Noble Savage.  Mankind is good, but that society or complex structures and forms, according to Jean Jacques Rousseau, are what finally corrupt mankind. 

 - However, many of you were focused on the romanticized version of sociopaths (Dexter, Hannibal Lector) when discussing good or bad.  Do our actions make us bad or are there just bad people?  Is selfishness bad?  What about self preservation?  In many ways, the phrase, "the apple doesn't fall from the tree" could apply - we follow our parents' lead when we're young until we actually forge our own value unique system.


Statement #3 - When we die, our essence or soul leaves our body - this divided the class like the 2nd statement, because some weren't sure whether or not we had a soul and wanted proof.  Also, we discussed what was someone's essence?  A memory held after the person was gone?  His/her impact on others?  Are we just renting our skin and bones while we're here (thanks, Switchfoot!)?  Some classmates mentioned the impact of ghost-like experiences as well as religion that have helped them through this difficult question.  Are we just worm food when we die or is there something more?

 - Pinker's concept here is called "ghost in the machine" after Gilbert Ryle's ideas about the mind and how Descartes approached mind / body dualism.

Pick one or more of these statements to add to the discussion.  Your answer is due by Thursday, October 27th before class begins.  Minimum of 250 words. 

Steven Pinker's website: http://stevenpinker.com/ 

48 comments:

  1. Ellie Toth
    5th hour

    I don’t think of death as the end of life. Technically it is; but, I have always thought there was more to it. I think our souls are what define us as people. When we die, our souls go on. Like some people were saying that something reminds them of dead loved ones or they have felt the presence of someone who is dead. This is our soul.
    I have grown up being Catholic and learned that when you die, your soul goes to heaven or hell. Although I do not believe everything that the Catholic faith has taught me, I do believe this. I think death is scary for most people; however, if we have heaven to look forward to, it makes death less nerve wracking knowing there’s something more.
    We can never know if heaven and hell are real or if our souls really do leave our body. This is why I think it is hard for people to have faith that there is a heaven because there is really no way of knowing what happens. I sort of think of it as a test of God. If you have the faith that there is a heaven, maybe there will be one. If you do not believe there is a heaven, maybe God wants to surprise you. No one can know for sure what happens until we die. I just think there is more to death than just death itself. Maybe there isn’t though. Maybe we just die and that is it.

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  2. I go to church every Sunday and I’m involved in the church, so religion plays a big role in my life. I believe there is a soul and it goes to heaven once you die. I’ve read multiple books (non fiction of course) that talk about people getting into an accident and dyeing for a period of time, then getting brought back to life by a doctor. They tell their story about going to heaven for 5 hours or whatever the time span was. If there were no such things as souls then this couldn’t happen. Our body isn’t going to magically rise from under the ground, which is what our soul does. I believe the books because all of them describe the heaven experience as the same, and describe it the same way the bible says it looks like. I think there is a brain and then a mind, a body and then a soul. I liked the idea of an Essence being something that reminds you of someone once they pass away. My grandpa always sat in this one chair, and once he passed away, being in that chair made my think of him and it felt like he was still there. My grandpa’s essence was in the chair (not literary). Seeing that chair reminded me of him. I have heard stories from some family friends and their house was on fire and the daughter only woke up because she saw her dead grandpa shaking her foot, telling her to get up and leave the house. I don’t believe in things that happen in Paranormal Activities, but I do believe people can have experiences with the ghosts or the risen souls.

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  3. Jack Arvai 3rd hourOctober 26, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    In response to the statement Mankind is basically good but society corrupts him/her, I would disagree with the first half, but agree with the last half. For the first half, it is impossible to judge what is good and bad, because good and bad are made up, and what is good and bad depends from person to person. If I were to correct the statement, I would make it Mankind is basically neutral. This leads me to the second half that states that society corrupts mankind, which I completely agree with. Mankind is basically neutral, until society influences it to one side or the other, negative or positive, or “good” or “bad”. Each person’s outcome depends on their upbringing, and what they are surrounded with. For example, if a kid is born in a household of violence, that child may become violent to his peers at school, because that is what he has learned. Another example is of an everyday American that is born as a kind, generous person, but slowly learns from American society that money is all that matters, and slowly becomes a greedy person, who looks down upon people of lower economic status. So basically whatever influences a person the most or whatever they are surrounded with, will affect the way they are, and the way they act. This I guess means that mankind turns out “bad” 99% if the time, which is really a sad thing. However some people, who have strong enough wills, can be exceptions.

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  4. Statement #2: I do not agree with the statement that mankind is basically good and society is what corrupts it. First off, in psychology I learned how some people that do extremely bad things, such as psychopaths who kill many people, have brains that formed differently than the brain of a normal person. This is an example of a case where it wasn’t society that corrupted the people, it was something that mankind can be born with, making them not basically good in all cases. If we don’t hold any of these terrible killers accountable and say that they’re still good people, then there’ll be no way to protect people from these psychopaths. Even though some people say that an outside force is what controls mankind and makes them do these bad things so it isn’t mankind’s fault, I still feel that there has to be some concrete person for us to blame or the world would just spiral into a lot of disorder which people committing crimes and others allowing them to not be punished, blaming it on whoever controlled them to make them do these awful things. Also, a lot of people who do bad things, even if their brains aren’t differently-wired, didn’t necessarily get the motivation to do all of these things through society; in many cases, they came up with these ideas themselves, not from any outside influence. There’s no way to prove that it’s society’s fault that people do bad things. And also, mankind is what controls what happens in society, so if society is corrupting them, then there must have been corrupt, bad people to begin with.

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  5. I chose to answer question number three. I really like it because I find it the most interesting of the three.I think to answer this question you first have to make a distinction between soul and essence. I think that your soul is within you and it is what makes you do what you do. Your essence on the other hand is more outside your body. I think that your essence is what is perceived by others. In a way, its like your giving a little piece of your soul to everyone you impact on in your life. Those little pieces of who you are or what you do is the essence. Your soul leaves your body when you die to go to either heaven or hell. But instead of gathering up all those little pieces that it gave away it leaves them. That way people can remember how special you were and how much you did for others. Your essence is a very special thing. I think that everyone wants to be remembered for being a good person. The soul leaves but the essence is forever in a sense. The only way that the essence can leave is if they are lost in the other people. You should always live life to the fullest because of this. If you do this then you can make sure you can have as much of your essence around as possible when you leave. The more and more you share special memories or experiences the better they remember you.I don't think that there is any way that your entire soul can stay around. It stays within when you are alive and directs what you do. After that it leaves the body in a very quiet way to go to heaven or hell.

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  6. #1 In order to answer the question of whether we are born as blank slates, we have to define what a blank slate is. I see a blank slate as absolutely nothing. If a baby were born as a blank slate in my head they would have to be born as a light or as a totally lifeless baby. Since we function in the womb, develop in the womb, and learn how to survive in the womb we are not born as blank slates. A baby born as a blank slate would not be able to breathe or be able to swim fresh out of the womb. Since we are born with such levels of complexity there is no way we could start off as blank slates. We also carry memories from the womb in to everyday life. Babies tend to feel more comfortable when they are tightly wrapped because they remember the conditions of the womb. Also when I would wake my niece up from a nap or if I woke her up in the morning she was often sleeping in he fettle position, the position she stayed in in the womb.

    #2I also disagree with the statement that mankind is basically good and that society corrupts it. I feel that society does corrupt mankind, but I feel we are basically neutral. I think that influences from society are what make us good or bad. A person who grew up their whole life with loving parents, a nice home, and lots of attention that regularly attended church would most likely be a good person. But a person who was neglected their whole life or beaten or had experienced some other horrible experience; may not turn out to be a good person.

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  7. #3. For me, it’s really hard to say whether our souls leave our bodies or not after death. During the discussion I was stuck in the “I Don’t Know” section the whole time. I don’t think I ever will know. There are so many reasons, in my opinion, to believe or not believe in both sides of the argument. Let me start with why I don’t believe that our souls exist after we die. I think the thought of our souls living after our body stops living is absurd. There is no proof of this, so how did this idea ever come about in the first place? So people have seen ghosts. I think I’ve seen a ghost once. But ghosts could be in our imagination- we might just be seeing what we want to see. Whoever started the idea of an afterlife could have been a schizophrenic thinking that they’ve been there or that they’ve seen ghosts, and people believed them. The idea spread and became so popular because the idea of heaven comforted them. While I think that these ideas are bizarre, I still partially believe that our souls do exist after we die. Although I’m the type of person to not be completely convinced until there is proof, I have made an exception for this subject. The thought of us dying and ceasing to exist just doesn’t work out in my mind. I don’t think it’s possible that we can die and just stop. We always exist physically, even as decayed bones, but is it really possible for all of our unique characteristics to disappear as our bodies wither away? Maybe one day I’ll take a side and stick with it, but right now I’m skeptical of both arguments. At this moment, the only thing that could convince me either of these arguments are right is proof- which I don’t want until I’m very, very old.

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  8. Question #3
    I believe that after you die your soul leaves your body. I definitely believe that we have a soul, because like Courtney said while we all have a physical being that makes us human we all have something more that makes us the unique person that we are. I think it’s evident that we all have a soul because we all have some sort of morals that we follow regardless of our religion or if we even have a religion. I kind of agree with Descartes in his beliefs on dualism I think that while the mind and body work together that they are 2 separate things. I think that someone’s soul is just everything that makes them who they are, like their character, personality and beliefs.
    After death I think that your body dies and goes into the ground but your soul continues on to either heaven or hell. While there is no way to prove what happens to us after death I think it is up to us to make a conscious decision to believe that our souls continue on. To me it is comforting to think that after death we aren’t truly dead, because being dead for the rest of eternity would be depressing to think about. It would upset me to think that I lived my life just to die and for nothing else. By believing in God I know that I’m living my life in order to please Him and that in the end I will not die but my soul will rise to heaven where I will spend eternity. This to me is a much more pleasant thought than just remaining in the ground to be eaten by worms.

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  9. Question #3
    I believe that after you die your soul leaves your body. I definitely believe that we have a soul, because like Courtney said while we all have a physical being that makes us human we all have something more that makes us the unique person that we are. I think it’s evident that we all have a soul because we all have some sort of morals that we follow regardless of our religion or if we even have a religion. I kind of agree with Descartes in his beliefs on dualism I think that while the mind and body work together that they are 2 separate things. I think that someone’s soul is just everything that makes them who they are, like their character, personality and beliefs.
    After death I think that your body dies and goes into the ground but your soul continues on to either heaven or hell. While there is no way to prove what happens to us after death I think it is up to us to make a conscious decision to believe that our souls continue on. To me it is comforting to think that after death we aren’t truly dead, because being dead for the rest of eternity would be depressing to think about. It would upset me to think that I lived my life just to die and for nothing else. By believing in God I know that I’m living my life in order to please Him and that in the end I will not die but my soul will rise to heaven where I will spend eternity. This to me is a much more pleasant thought than just remaining in the ground to be eaten by worms.

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  10. Here's the link to my blog response.

    http://its-the-philosophical-blog.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-52.html

    Leah Sherman

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  11. Amber Williams Question #1
    I do not think that babies are born with a blank slate and have absolutely no mental content. I think that babies are born with some knowledge. Babies do learn from experiences and observing their parents and the people around them. They are also born with reflects. They know how eventually hold their heads up and that is something that a parent cannot teach their child as a baby. Babies also know how to suck when they are drinking milk; they know how to do this as soon as they are born. If babies are a blank slate then how do they know when to laugh and cry? Babies have the ability to laugh and cry as soon as they are born. When something is painful or if they feel fear, they know how to express their emotions. When something is amusing to the baby, they know when to laugh. Babies are born with emotional intelligence. Babies can process their own emotions so I do not think that they are born with no mental content because this is not something that the parents or anyone can teach a baby. They have their own thought process. I think that babies are born with reflects, ability to suck and the abilities to process emotions. They also can hold their head up and eventually roll on their own, something that can't be taught. Babies are born with a lot of knowledge that a parent cannot teach their child. Therefore, babies are not blank slates.

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  12. The concept of the blank slate is absurd, there is a lot of evidence that goes against it. The fact that children learn to suck when coming out of the womb proves that the slate isn’t blank. If the slate was completely blank, a baby wouldn’t know how to suck or even cry when being just born. But still, many things in society are based around the fact that the blank slate is still present. Schools are constantly influenced by the idea of the blank slate. Classrooms are setup to teach us. It starts with basic concepts and ends with complex ones. But is it bad to assume that we may be a little bit of a blank slate? Just yesterday as I sat in a classroom, the teacher talked about leprosy, I knew it was something medical, but I didn’t know anything about it. As she talked I kept wondering what leprosy was, but I didn’t dare ask, because everyone else seemed to know the answer. Is it bad that a classroom can intimidate you to not ask a question or does it help move discussions along? I’ve never stopped myself from asking a question, because although I am not a blank slate, I am not filled to the brim with information either. I am ignorant in many subjects and I am not afraid to admit it. As I ask questions, I may embarrass myself as the entire class laughs at my silly remark, quirky idea, or ignorance. Although I do not know everything I am not a blank slate. Sometimes teachers assume we have prior knowledge, and this is the opposite of the blank slate idea. Sometimes we have so much prior knowledge when teachers assume we know nothing at all, in this instance, it seems ridiculous to even take the class in the first place.

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  13. In class, I said that I didn’t know if our souls left our body when we died. I still don’t, and I don’t want to say a firm yes or no because we can’t know. Once we die, we can no longer communicate with the living, so we can’t know what happens after, if anything at all. Some people who’ve had near-death experiences think that they saw a glimpse of the afterlife. They might have. Or they might have just been hallucinating.
    The idea of an afterlife is a nice idea, and I know it really helps some people. It just doesn’t really comfort me. The idea of this being it and nothing comes after is kind of scary, but it only really bothers me when I think that I’m wasting time or messing up and this is the only chance at life I get to get it right. The not existing part itself doesn’t really bother me at all; if we died and stopped existing, we’d just be done. We wouldn’t be aware that we no longer existed. It’s weird to think about what it feels like to not exist.
    It doesn’t really matter to me what happens when we die. I’ll find out one day, and until then I’ll enjoy living. There’s no sense in worrying about it now.
    -Rachel Goldstein

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  14. Claire LaSota
    Is mankind born good and then corrupted by society? I believe that everyone is born good and as they grow up they are molded into the image their society makes for them. This change can be painted as a bad change by the person is no longer an innocent baby since they have been exposed to different elements. In our society today the corruption of a person may be that they are more involved with technology. No one can deny that in life today you have to constantly deal and use different forms of technology. People are becoming like hermits; only unplugging themselves from their latest gadget for small portions of time for limited interaction between other people. This habit is hindering our society by people are now lacking basic social skills; they would rather send a text then call someone or avoid person to person contact. When people associated society corrupting people they tend to think that of people turning into psychopaths, but that may be an extreme case. I do believe that in order to lose control of yourself and become a psychopath or something similar to that the environment around you plays a major part. If you had been raised in a different home or area you may have drastically different outlooks and habits. Something in the environment will trigger or kick certain aspects to the surface to dominate how you act. You may have been born with those traits, but without the kick or trigger they may have remained doormat for years.

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  15. When we die, our essence or soul leaves our body. This is a tricky statement, and there is so many different theories and opinions that we will probably never get a real answer. I really struggled with this statement because I am not particularly religious, but the science path can’t explain it either. I guess, for me, I need proof to believe. Religion is based on faith, but I don’t have that faith because I can’t put my soul or essence into something that isn’t tangible. It’s like a fantasy to me. I am an open-minded person. I love reading about paranormal stuff and watching things on it, but I still don’t really believe. How can we dedicate our lives to something in which there is no proof? I won’t say all the out of body or near death experiences and ghosts and psychics are all frauds, but I can’t fully believe them either. Show me proof! On the other hand, science hasn’t solved this mystery either. I definitely lean more toward science than religion; however, all science says is that our brains and bodies shut down…then nothing. That seems so abrupt. To me, it doesn’t seem right that after all that life we lived just suddenly turns into nothing after we die. I believe heaven and hell do not exist. But I am still uncertain about reincarnation and other forms or afterlife. Maybe I just don’t want to believe that we are truly done when death comes. Your essence just ceases to exists or what? I can’t believe that all that made us who we are just disappears as soon as our bodies shut down. I believe we are remembered and our memories may be imprinted on things, but that isn’t our soul hanging on; it’s just a memory. So I really don’t have any answer to this statement.

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  16. Statement 3: This statement was definitely the one I agreed with most out of all three. I honestly feel that after we die, we are more than matter that is just reabsorbed back into the earth. I believe that not only do we leave an impact on others, and leave others with memories of us, but I think we leave behind a soul or some sort of “ghost”. I understand that science says that we have electrical waves in our brains, and their differences are what give us personality. I also understand that a lot of who we are is stored in our genes. However, I can’t seem to shake this inkling I have about ghosts, and feeling the prescence of others around me when no one is there. It’s not that I am super religious or anything, I just have had experiences where souls of the past have come into play. I have also witnessed accurate and eerie psychic readings, in which mediums have contacted the dead. I don’t see where anyone needs more proof than that! Scientific studies have been done, and have confirmed that the psychic is not just reading their subject’s mind, they are involved in another “conversation.” This really just makes it so much easier for me to believe in souls leaving out physical bodies once we die. I don’t think that we truly ever die. I think that our physical outer shell stops working, but as a person, we are always alive. The people that knew us will keep us alive through their memories, and the impact we made on the world or others will never leave Earth. I think it was really interesting in class when Leah mentioned feeling her Grandma’s essence when she opened the sewing kit. In her own special way, Leah will never let her Grandma die, because of this feeling and memory. I did not like when she was shot down by another group though, because I know that everyone has a memory of a loved one they lost, and that should be proof to them that when we die, our bones may be buried, but who we were never will be.

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  17. Statement 3: This statement was definitely the one I agreed with most out of all three. I honestly feel that after we die, we are more than matter that is just reabsorbed back into the earth. I believe that not only do we leave an impact on others, and leave others with memories of us, but I think we leave behind a soul or some sort of “ghost”. I understand that science says that we have electrical waves in our brains, and their differences are what give us personality. I also understand that a lot of who we are is stored in our genes. However, I can’t seem to shake this inkling I have about ghosts, and feeling the prescence of others around me when no one is there. It’s not that I am super religious or anything, I just have had experiences where souls of the past have come into play. I have also witnessed accurate and eerie psychic readings, in which mediums have contacted the dead. I don’t see where anyone needs more proof than that! Scientific studies have been done, and have confirmed that the psychic is not just reading their subject’s mind, they are involved in another “conversation.” This really just makes it so much easier for me to believe in souls leaving out physical bodies once we die. I don’t think that we truly ever die. I think that our physical outer shell stops working, but as a person, we are always alive. The people that knew us will keep us alive through their memories, and the impact we made on the world or others will never leave Earth. I think it was really interesting in class when Leah mentioned feeling her Grandma’s essence when she opened the sewing kit. In her own special way, Leah will never let her Grandma die, because of this feeling and memory. I did not like when she was shot down by another group though, because I know that everyone has a memory of a loved one they lost, and that should be proof to them that when we die, our bones may be buried, but who we were never will be.

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  18. In response to #3.

    First things first: Switchfoot, ew. Now that we have the important stuff covered, we can move on. So, what happens when we die? Does our “essence” or “soul” fly right up in the sky while the worms eat out our eyes, and our loved ones cry themselves to sleep? Well, I guess it depends. First what is our soul? Is this the soul in the sense that, inside of all of us, there is a little white light that we just cant see, that flutters around inside of our rib cage, because, if that is the kind of soul we are talking about, I don’t know if I can believe that. What I do feel is that once we are dead, once the men in the black ties arrive out our houses to pay respects and say their final good byes, we aren’t there any more. My body is a cage, and that’s all. Once we are dead its just a dead body, so in away I do think that once we die our “essence” and “soul” leaves our body. When we die our body is empty. I am much more willing to believe that once we die our “essence” not our soul, leaves our body because I think our essence is not supernatural, not like the soul. Our essence, to me, is who we are, the things we have done, our words and actions, and the impressions we have made on others. But I don’t think our essence only leaves when we die. I think that as we go through our life, our essence is constantly leaving our bodies; our essence is an old, yellowed piece of paper, that’s curling at the corners that we drew when we were 4 years old, and that our grandchildren will find tucked away in old shoebox up in the attic. Our essence is the best advice we ever gave and the worst mistake we ever made. When we stand in a room with someone, our essence is leaving our bodies and filling the room, and everyone in the room is coming into contact with it. Once we are dead our essence no longer is coming from our bodies. It has hastily disserted our bodies and to be lost to the ether, gone up to god, or off inhabit other bodies, yet to be born into this world, or nothing happens and we’re just worm food, all of these are equally possible. But I also think our little d of our essence isn’t gone either when we die, remnants are littered around, similar to how when squatters take up residence in an empty house they tend to leave empty cheap bags, bottles, cigarettes butts and maybe some fecal matter. It lingers with our families, in old haunts, on old things. When we die we are gone but not forgotten, our essences has skipped town, with a one way to ticket to only-god-knows-where. Or maybe he doesn’t know? Either way, once we are dead, all we are is just another bag of bones for the gods to sort and what happens doesn’t matter because if nothing happens you wont know, and if there is an after life, that’s cool too.

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  19. Statement 1: Blank Slate
    I do not believe in the blank slate theory. I do not understand how babies or any other animals could survive if they started their life not knowing anything. In class there were arguments about babies learning necessary actions while still in the womb, but this does not make any sense to me. How do the babies know what moves to practice? There needs to be some kind of pre-knowledge that informs the baby what it needs to learn and how to learn it. The reason for this is instinct. A reaction that comes pre-built into humans brains. When we get scared we scream. When we fall we throw out arms in an attempt to catch ourselves. These reactions happen automatically, we do not have to think about it. They're not something we learn either.. Even in animals you can see examples of instinct. Baby giraffes know how to balance and walk perfectly as soon as they are born. Baby sea turtles know to crawl towards the ocean when they are first born. Both of these actions must be built into the animals brain or else they will not survive. A giraffe that cannot walk will quickly be abandoned by its pack and a sea turtle that does not crawl toward the ocean will be unable to find food or water and will die.

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  20. Zepp, don't diss the 'foot.

    Mr. W.

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  21. Personally I believe we are more than just worm food when we die. I just cant being myself to think that our souls don’t get released when we die in at least some way. My main reason for this is because of ghosts. I strongly believe in ghosts and I think that that proves that our souls definitely don’t just stay with our bodies underground when we die. Now, i'm not the type of person who watches those ghost hunters shows and automatically believes in ghosts, I think those shows are a load of crap, but I believe that I’ve actually experienced a ghost before. I took a trip with my dad to New York to go see the house where he grew up in, when I was there, there was this section of the house which I refused to go into because I just felt very scared and like something bad would happen to me. It was very weird because later my dad told me that the house was haunted when he lived there from people killing themselves in it a long time ago and that he would never go into that same section of the house. Since I didn’t know about this before I entered the house, yet I still got the same feeling, I believe that it so truly haunted. Since ghosts, in my mind, are real I think that definitely proves that are souls leave our body when we die. However, I am not exactly sure on where they go. I definitely like to believe that heaven is real, but I really have no proof, I only have proof that they leave the body. I think that this question will never be answered, and it all comes down to faith. If you have faith in god and religion, you probably believe in heaven and hell. Whichever way, I hope that when I die, I will go to heaven.

    Ari

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  22. Statement #3 - When we die, our essence or soul leaves our body - this divided the class like the 2nd statement, because some weren't sure whether or not we had a soul and wanted proof. Also, we discussed what was someone's essence? A memory held after the person was gone? His/her impact on others? Are we just renting our skin and bones while we're here (thanks, Switchfoot!)? Some classmates mentioned the impact of ghost-like experiences as well as religion that have helped them through this difficult question. Are we just worm food when we die or is there something more?

    My response was too long to fit in the comment box (4,096 character limit? Bah.) So I'ma post a link to my blog, where I can ramble in peace.

    http://airshipstotle.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-52-response-rerambling.html

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  23. I believe that mankind is basically good but society corrupts him/her. I believe everyone is born good and there is something that they are either influenced by or that is pressured upon them to change. Bad choice in actions make, qualifies one to be bad. The behavior that is unacceptable makes one bad. Most likely society influenced the bad behavior because it is presented as an okay thing to do. For example, fighting on reality television shows, in reality everyone does not fight with each other over little things but it seems as though that is the real way to live and it is perfectly fine to fight since it is being enforced by the media. The media corrupts society to think a certain way and society influences others. If bad actions are apart of the chain then there will be a chain effect. I think bad actions make one bad since everyone is born intentionally good. Selfishness for the most part is bad because you are only thinking about yourself and not others, when you could think about yourself and others without even being selfish. Self-preservation is good because you are ensuring the survival of an organism. Although I agree with this statement, the more I think about the statement, the more I think about the difference between good and evil. Good and evil differs from person to person, so no one is to judge what is good or bad for everyone because everyone has different perceptions of it. Mankind is good but society has a lot of affects on the influence of mankind to corrupt one to become bad through their actions and choices.

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  24. The statement says that society corrupts a basically good human being. I say this is false. Human nature, in my opinion, is what it is. I don't believe society makes us greedy, selfish, or corrupt. In contrast, I think that is human nature. If you look at it, those are traits that will help you survive. The theory of evolution is all about survival of the fittest. The nice caveman who gave away his food to another caveman and starved to death wasn't able to pass on his selfless traits. Of course, I don't think human nature is all greed and want, it's also about compassion and empathy. I read an article from National Geographic about the development of teenage brains, and it said that, as a teenager, the pleasure gained from social interaction increases because we tend to thrive if we are more social. I think this area in evolution brings out traits such as compassion, empathy, and I don't know if it's a trait, but also love. As a baby, you have jealousy of another toy, you hurt people and laugh because it's funny, you tell your first lie, and all of this happened with no coherent society to tell you to do that, you did it by yourself.Society doesn't turn us into people who wreck our economy because they took billions of dollars and tanked the system, sure it may have had a part, but taking what you can for yourself, in my opinion, is human nature.
    Only corrupt societies can corrupt people. How do you know that the Native Americans didn't have a society? Maybe they just set it with different values. Our current society is based on repressing a lot of stuff which comes naturally to us (saying selfishness is bad, as well as greed and jealousy), but don't we all feel those human emotions? It's because it's in our nature, society can have an impact (don't get me wrong) but the base of our corrupt society lives in the repression of those human traits, which all people have, who make up the society in the first place.

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  25. In reference to the question about souls leaving the body, and the discussion of whether or not this happens, I believe that it does not. We are taught all through school and life that magic is just not real. Innate objects don’t just disappear or walk away. It seems to be that everything has some kind of science behind it, whether we have discovered it or not. The more I learn about science and even evolution, the harder it is for me to think about an afterlife. Because I have never been very involved in religion this is an easy concept for me to stick to. I just classify myself as a very rational person, all in all. And because of this my brain won’t allow me to believe that our souls will rise from our bodies like a bright light from with and hopefully go to heaven to finally (float?) to the pearly white gates. No, I don’t think this theory is at all probable, though it may not be as glorious, I think that after you die you’re just done, and maybe you will have another chance later in the universe.
    Though, leaving behind an essence is a completely different story. This is kind of like thinking about who will actually attend your funeral. If there are a lot of people there this means that you have made an impact on the lives of many people. The lessons and stories and memories of yourself are what you leave behind for others after you die. The more you help and become closer to a greater variety and amount of people, the longer your memories, stories or ‘essence’ will live on after your death.

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  26. Statement # 2:
    I feel that people are essentially good. Whether they are innately good or innately indifferent and then learn to be “good”[1] is different, but my point is that all humans (essentially and unless obstructed) either learn to or innately act towards a desire to do good by themselves. A child has no sense of good or evil when it first comes into the world because all of these things are opinions that are developed over a persons’ life as they decide what they agree with and hat they don’t agree with. Even when someone does a horrible thing they are doing it for a reason[3], when terrorists kill thousands of innocent people they are perceived as bad, evil, insane, and overall just douches; but, if you analyze this you can see that terrorists obviously terrorize for a reason, in some cases it is as a religious war, in some cases to root cause is change[4]. This is ridiculous but at the same time they do have a valid argument in their minds which is where a person is ultimately judged as bad or good because that is where their decision for their next action is made. Now there are people who do things for the sake of being evil, I won’t deny that (and that isn’t necessarily that they think they are doing the right thing or that they believe everyone else deserves a certain fate)[5]; these people know they are doing something wrong and do it just because they can and because they want to not because it is right. But you never hear of a young child who is torturing animals[6] for no reason. Almost every person that would fit either the child torturer or evil sadist profile does so because of their past experiences, which usually deal with abuse, rejection, or some other form of negative punishment. So essentially humans have and innate sense to do good by themselves, which would make humans essentially good.

    [1] - good in this context is meant to be a personal opinion of one’s own actions (this way all actions are rooted in good)[2].

    [2] – this is due to the fact that even an action or thought viewed of as others as bad was done by the person because, even if just at the time, they believed it to be the right (ergo good) thing to do.

    [3] – even if they don’t remember it or it isn’t very valid.

    [4] – often seen as Westernization

    [5] – This would all fit with foot note 2.

    [6]– Talking about legit torture here not just being a little prick or being cruel.

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  27. Question #1: I think the Blank Slate concept was a great and very powerful idea at one time, but not today. Our scientific studies and the observations prove that as soon as we are born, we are able to perform basic functions like breathing and blinking (this was questionable evidence for some of the class because these are not conscious efforts or actions, yet still there nonetheless) but also we can immediately do things like crawl, giggle, spit, and so on without being taught or shown how. A baby doesn’t crawl towards a shiny object or a toy/dog/whatever else because we trained them to, but they did it themselves! If they were blank slates they would be sitting staring at the floor like a pile of coals until we teach them absolutely everything there is to know, which brings up another point. Regardless of what babies actually know, we are going to teach them new things no matter what. Just because a baby does something that we taught it does not mean that’s to only way for them to learn, or the only knowledge that they have! I feel that as human beings we are constantly teaching, constantly learning, and babies just absorb more of it because it is all so new (and exciting) to them. We are going to teach them a lot in their lifetime and a lot in their early years, but we are not all the only source of information! They would learn no matter what, and I think that in order to do this they must have some kind of foundation they are born with to make the learning process efficient.

    Elyse D

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  28. Statement 1
    Babies are such interesting creatures. When they’re born, so many people wonder what they know, who they know, and why they know? I think that the blank slate theory is no longer as influential as it once was. Obviously, there are people who still believe it, keeping it alive, but I most definitely don’t think it is correct. When a baby is born, he or she is able to perform a walking motion when in contact with water, there is no blank slate there. Even when I babysit, a lot of sounds that a child hears will calm the child down. When a baby is born, they can recognize the sound of a heart beat because they had heard their mother’s while in her womb. There are many things you wouldn’t expect a newborn child to believe, which proves the blank slate theory is incorrect. Clearly, this doesn’t mean that a newborn baby has just as much knowledge as an educated adult, but there is some knowledge. I would call it a foundation. It’s a base for the brain. As the baby gets older, he or she will gain more knowledge through experiences, examples, and everyday life, but they will of course, start off with that base of knowledge. I don’t think it can really be fought against because almost all newborns are able to do things from the beginning, like sucking (from sucking amniotic fluid in the womb). It may be agreeable to say a fetus starts off with a blank slate, but not a baby that is born.

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  29. Crystal Oropeza, Hour 5
    Statement #3

    I am religious, go to church and my family is mostly Catholic. Being religious we all believe that your soul either goes to heaven or hell when you die. Throughout this statement in class I was in the “I don’t know” section. I was in this section because I truly don’t know. Part of me believes yes we do go to heaven or hell and part of me looks at the science aspect of it. What exactly is a soul or essence? Do we even have a soul? I was tempted throughout the discussion to move to the “I agree” section but then I would think- I really don’t know. The agreeing section had lots of good statements that I agreed with. They spoke about being religious and being raised to believe that you go to heaven and about memories being an essence. I agreed with both of those topics. I do believe a memory is an essence. When people in my family have passed away I still think of them from time to time because of a memory, object or even a song. This kind of goes back to when we were talking about relating things like scents, songs, or places with summer, school, a person etc. I also believe in ghosts, which would agree with our soul leaving, and now being stuck between heaven and the real world. I also think it was crazy how one man tried to weigh a soul to prove his theory. This statement really got me thinking and I believe nobody will absolutely know the truth of if our soul leaves our body or not when we die.

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  30. I don’t think babies are born as blanks slates that have to learn everything from someone or something. I think everything we learn is an expansion from what we already know. For example when we are born we already know how to make what we call “baby noises” and as we grow up and our body develops those noises to make words. We can’t say that we teach babies to communicate with us because they don’t know how, they do. They communicate with us by screaming, crying, and talking gibber jabber. Now think about this if a baby, just born, came out of nowhere and asked by name for bottle milk, we would think that baby is crazy or devil like and it probably wouldn’t get fed because we would run away from it or give it to science. I think its all survival of the fittest. Different babies were born with different trait and the trait that kept that baby alive was past down and the traits that freaked out America died off.
    If you think about it school is the same way. As kids you already know u have more than one object even without knowing what it’s called. School just conditions you to think the way they want you to think and criticizes the kids who don’t get good grades. But if you think about it, these are also the same people who say don’t judge people and don’t follow the crowd, have your own opinion. Isn’t school just a big way to judge people and follow facts you can’t dispute because the people who made these theories, some with less schooling then most of us today, are supposed smarter than any of us. Maybe the kids who don’t do their work and get bad grades are just rebelling against the hypocritical system we have today, it’s not always because they don’t have a two parent home or a lot of money. The basic instincts that kids are born with tell them that its survival of the fittest and since most of the schools they go to are crap the school never had a chance to complete brain wash and steal their minds. Babies aren’t born blank slates they just aren’t born with the things we think we must know and do to survive as a human being on planet earth
    Alexis tillery
    5th hour

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  31. Angelina Esho
    5th hour
    #3
    I think that we have something more after death, I am catholic and I have learned throughout the years that we Catholics believe that life is just beginning, and death is the after part of it all, I think that life is what determines us when we die, whether if we go to heaven or hell. I think our soul is what makes a person so special because that is how we are remembered as, like when people say I remember her well, she touched my soul, I think that we do have a soul. Whether you go up to heaven or hell, I believe your soul is you, but it’s just sent to heaven or hell. I think there is such a thing after life, but I am not sure, which is why I declare myself as the “I don’t know” section I’m not really sure what to believe, I do however believe in god, I just don’t know what to believe in afterlife, so many people assume or think they know what happens afterlife, like for instance “our souls,” but I think that it’s impossible to know, I question as to why people assume or say things are going to happen, they haven’t died yet, so how do they really know? I think when you do die everyone experiences the real truth, and us people that are alive can be right but it’s just not a sure thing until it actually happens to you, nobody really knows.

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  32. Response to society is good and society corrupts them. I agree with this almost completely. I believe that people all have good in them and if you search hard enough, you will find it. I believe mankind is a whole is god because of this. But there are things in society that corrupt people. The most corrupted are changed by traumatic events that were done by the people around them. People that have violent parents and are neglected and abused, it will probably end up that the child is different and possibly violent or “bad”. The bad things in society corrupt people because I believe that no people are born with prejudices. People are not born racist or with bad values. Society or the parents have to change this. I do believe that people can be born with disorders or things that make them anti-social or especially violent but this does not make them bad. If they are born with things that make them act a certain way, they may think that in their head these things are normal and not “bad”. It is only when society deems something as wrong or evil that it becomes that. If we all had 0 established morals, empathy, or values, nothing would be considered bad.
    We die and our essence leaves our body. I think that we don’t leave our body, Our entire personality can be seen scientifically and in our brain. If we die, our brain will eventually die. Our brain and its senses can not just leave the body do a different area. We die, so we die.

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  33. As we discussed in class on Tuesday, the question of whether or not our souls or "essences" leave our bodies after we die cannot be answered until we address the question of whether or not we actually have souls in the first place. I think that it was interesting how people on the "Don't Agree" side of the classroom during this discussion tended to use science (mostly biology) to explain their points of view, while peope on the "Agree" side of the room used their feelings as evidence of the existence of a human soul. In my opinion, both methods are equally valuable.

    I get frustrated when people claim that science is clearly superior to emotion and faith as a means of finding truth. Even as an avid student of science - particularly biology - I believe that science has its limitations. Many people seem to assume that souls do not exist simply because science cannot prove their existence. But science is only a way to test the physical world to see how things work and how we can use things like physics and chemistry to achieve certain results (e.g. how to synthesize a new medicine). It cannot tell us, for example, whether or not there is a God. This question is simply beyond the scope of what science can address; each person must make a personal decision as to what to believe. I think that the personal decision - the "leap of faith," to give a shout-out to the existentialists - must play a significant factor in determining whether or not we believe that there is a such thing as a "soul." While science may give us some valuable insights, we must also take things like emotions and intuitions seriously. I thought that our class did a good job of balancing both sides.

    Regardless of whether we have souls, I think that each of us does leave some "essence" behind when we die. Leah's dog, for instance, left Leah with very distinct memories and feelings. In a sense, her dog's essence left an imprint on the world; part of the dog was still "alive" in Leah's thoughts. As humans, I think that all of us leave similar imprints on the whole of human existence. (Maybe not large imprints, but imprints nonetheless.)

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  34. I disagree with statement 2 that Mankind is basically good but society corrupts him or her. When children are young no one has to teach them how to be bad and they don’t know that the things they are doing are bad until an adult tells them so. So as children there are no concepts of wrong or right until someone teaches them what is wrong or right, therefore mankind couldn’t just be classified as basically good if they have to be taught what is good or bad because a person isn’t just naturally born good or bad. I think the problem with statement 2 is that “good” has a different meaning for each person so it’s more difficult to give a clear cut opinion about this statement. Also there is the idea of self preservation. As young children we only think about our needs and wants until we grow older and are taught that we should also think about others. For example, as a kid if I wanted a specific toy all I had to do was take it from another kid, I didn’t know that what I was doing was wrong until my mom or a teacher punished me for it. I actually believe that the statement is oversimplified. Humanity and the human mind is way more complex to be summed up the way and classified as one thing or the other. With the second part of the statement though, I think that in a lot of ways society does corrupt people. As we grow up we learn different things about “good” or “bad” through what we see in the real world.

    Leah D.

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  35. Alex Pisano

    I decided to attack question three, whether or not there is something after death. The thing that strongly convinced me of the existence of a soul, a indestructable part of a human being that is only loosely connected to one's body, is the idea of near death experiences. Sometimes, people whose brains cease all higher functions for a while, who should not be able to have memories, should not be able to think, both hear things and remember things that they should, in a wholly rational world, not be able to see at all. It's true that our personalities, our knowledge is linked to our bodies, but I know people who know things that very few know, have memories of things that they couldn't possibly have been at, whether it is just a fancy or not. The truth of the matter is that not only is there something more, but that that something more is beyond anyone’s comprehension. The truth of the matter is that were such a thing to exist, it would be nigh ununderstandable to those whose minds aren't already elevated to that level of conception, science would be incapable to explain it, the fools who claim to be priests and scholars nowadays are incapable of explaining it, and the average man just shouldn't worry about it. Man is a creator of his own world, as he creates, he destroys. If one is willing to believe that a soul is, then it is for his world, each man's world envelops its own sphere determined by his beliefs and perceptions.

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  36. Ryan Williams
    3rd Hour

    I personally disagree with the statement that “The Blank Slate theory is still influential today”. I feel that there are various skills/traits we inhibit that allow us to perform in situations that are completely foreign to us. One of the points I think supports my position is the action of babies and other newborn animals. Babies are almost programmed to do certain actions, like breathing or opening their eyes, and when they come out of the womb they have these actions mastered even though they haven’t performed them before. The same things happen with newborn animals; foals can almost immediate walk out of the womb even though they’ve never tried walking before and baby sea turtles know to head to water after they’re hatched even though no one tells them two. This also brings up the argument of where DNA fits in the Blank Slate theory. Being someone who disagrees with the theory, I feel because DNA is something you’re born with, you can’t possibly born with a blank slate. Your DNA, specifically the “messages” imprinted/encoded in it, is exactly what allows babies to know how to breathe fresh out the womb or makes it possible for a newly born foal to be able to walk. A school related example or point of evidence that disproves the Blank Slate theory is the taking of tests or quizzes. Most of the time students haven’t already experienced the specific tests or quizzes they take according to the Blank Slate theory because of this inexperience all students would do horrible on all new tests and quizzes, but that doesn’t happen. Learning in class and studying helps us prepare and metaphorically “fill up or slate” and allows us to succeed even though we’ve never token the test before.

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  37. Willie Beattie
    5th Hour


    The Blank Slate idea is definitely influential but there are many things that prove it wrong. One thing that mainly shows that disproves the black slate is all of the things babies know hot to do like suck, crawl and roll over. Someone would have had to teach babies how to do this is if the Blank Slate theory was completely true. This is true because babies don’t see anyone else sucking, either to follow by example; they just eventually start doing it. Another example can be shown through other species such as sea turtles. After laying the eggs under the sand on a beach, the mother turtles will leave and the babies then hatch to no parents. They are still able to digs them selves out of the sand and then make their way into the water. The only way this can be explained is that they knew to go towards water, proving that they did not have a blank slate when they were born.
    I do not think that babies are truly blank slates because even though they are “constant learning machines,” most of the things that first do they do not pick up from us because we don’t crawl around or show anyway to hold our heads up. We don’t do any of this but it is still a natural step that babies can do growing up. That is why I think that the concept of a blank slate does not exist and can be disproven in many different ways.

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  38. Patrice B.

    I definitely believe that the blank slate theory is still relevant, and influential today. Whether or not everyone believes it, I still think it is, for lack of a better word, controversial, enough to create some kind of an impact. Even the fact that we had opposing sides discussing it in class proves that. I do believe in the blank slate theory. I definitely believe that as humans, we are born with instincts: eating when we're hungry, sleeping when we're tired, basic motor skills, etc. But, I do believe that in terms of learning, we are all born "blank." I remember using this same scenario in class: if you put a baby in a room minutes after being born with a bottle and clothes, it wouldn't know what to do with either, and it wouldn't learn how to talk. Since I babysit so much, I know that kids, at a young age, learn by example. At the beginning, babies learn to do what adults do in order to survive." My tummy stopped hurting when that woman put that white liquid in my mouth. Maybe I should drink it more often." But, once they get older, the copying leans more toward the idea that kids want to be like their parents, because for some reason, unknown to me, every kid is in a huge rush to grow up. But, I digress. I definitely think that without either physically being taught, or watching another human, whether it be an adult of another child, a baby cannot learn the basic skills needed to survive.

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  39. Statement 2: I personally believe in the noble savage theory. Society corrupts us all and causes more problems than it has to be. Society is too complex, filled with expectations, morals and problems. Native Americans were not brought up how we are today. They lived sort of like animals. I suppose the more natural we are/act, the better life is. Native Americanss didn't grow up and being taught what's good and bad, what's acceptable and what's not. Man is not born to do "evil", and who really knows what evil is anyway? Our society today defines good and bad. Our society defines everything actually. Humans have a concious, but sometimes we may not always make the right choices, and we're judged for it. Some of our actions are what society calls "bad", such as stealing. But...at the same time I feel like some humans know they're morally wrong, such as someone robbing a person. That's just violent and unnecessary. But, a person that's been growing up in a forest for their entire life, unaware of moral rights, and steals an animal's meal, I don't consider that wrong. It's really just survival of the fittest. The guy didn't know any better, so you can't really blame him. It's very rare for a person to grow up in those conditions. Most humans look up to each other,sort of "copy" each other, and is heavily influenced by society as a whole.

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  40. Statement #1 - The Blank Slate concept is still influential today - fairly divided the classes. The BS idea influenced policies in education and politics today as students mentioned regardless of whether the concept was valid, but in 3rd hour wondered how DNA fit into the whole scheme. Some of you asked - to knock the concept down - how do babies know how to roll over or lift their heads? How do they know how to suck right away? How could they have learned those skills if they've never had any interaction w/ other babies? Babies are constant learning machines, but are they truly blank slates?

    • I don't think that babies are born with nothing in them, I think that they are born with certain survival skills, things that they are born with. To be a blank slate is to be like a vegetable with nothing inside of you, I think babies are more like sponges that suck up anything around them which is added to the survival skills they are born with.

    Chelsee

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  41. I think that this is correct for people that are born normal. Disabled kids do not count throughout this whole discussion. When humans are born we are born as innocent and we have a blank state. Throughout our lives we choose which path we choose and follow. If kids are born into a family where they are abused they are going to abuse others because they do not think that they were treated right. If a kid was raised to a loving family and had morals they are going to be the leaders of their nation or country. I think that no matter how much we try to be good there is always bad in us. I think that if a person is influenced by a bad society that’s how they become bad and create bad actions just like Adolf Hitler who was born and was thought to hate Jewish people so he took actions and killed a community. Hitler may have thought that what he was doing was the correct thing to what he believed that is bad. What I think is bad someone else might not find it bad and might think that it is the right thing to do. And it could be the opposite way around. I think that people vary by the actions and the society they are introduced to. This is why I believe that society causes people to be bad when they were innocent to begin with. Like the blank state humans do what they are thought to do and what they are introduced to.

    Simay

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  42. Question 2.
    For this question, we have define a few parts of it, primarily the meaning of good. The main questions that arise are What is Good? and Are there good/bad people, or do we just do good/bad things?
    One question we had difficulty answering in our class is question that is there any polar good/ bad? I think we can answer it by looking at Nazis. In the forties, America considered Hitler to be the polar definition of evil, Yet Germans considered anyone who wasn't a Nazi to also be evil. It really then comes down to perspective. What the Germans were doing were good to them but evil to us. If there is this much variation between good and evil then, is there a definite good or evil? My answer is yes and no. I say no because good and evil is purely decided by a societies standards, which we all know can change. I have to say yes though, because although we can debate little things that vary depending on each society, there are some overall themes that have been prominent in every society regardless of the age. For example, murder has been frowned upon in almost every society, so it is safe to assume that that is bad. How long woman's sleeves should be, however, changes depending on where you are so that is more up for debate. So to answer the question, I would have to say that man is man, and if he is good or evil is really just a product of how he is viewed by society.

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  43. Oran Lieberman
3rd Hour
Question 2
I personally agree with the statement that "Mankind is basically good but society corrupts it". I have chosen this belief due to the decisions toddlers make. When growing up, Johnny, the four year old boy, lacks the ability to tell good from bad, they simply do what they believe is right. It may be bad for the four year old to tell their teacher his mother's age is really 42, while his mother claims its only 28, but thats simply what the boy thought was right. When people are born, they only know of what is right. And in almost every situation, a toddlers "right" choice is what is good. Telling the truth is good even if it may upset ones mother. Its not until people are older that lying becomes acceptable. The difference between the youth (0-11) and the old (12+) is that the youth are not exposed to society as we know it. The youth only interact with their direct family, and friends from play dates. Where as the old people of America are exposed to culture, gossip, and scandal. All of those things can lead to the belief that lying, stealing, and cheating are okay simply because that is what everyone does. Society’s effects on others can cripple the decision making ability of even the strongest of leaders, an example would be when the senator tried to auction off his spot in congress. In the end, humans are born with a fully functioning thought process until dangers such as Facebook and texting throw it out of line.

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  44. The societal structure presents a difficult question as it relates to international and local violence. Some may argue that the violence is biologically inherent and produces the horrible effect that humans have become notorious for: war, genocide, rape, etc. This was more so explained by Thayer’s theory of realist-evolution, being related to nations. I however disagree with this. The example given for Native Americans explains that a lack of structure (perhaps an anarchy?) forces people to work with each other because of a mutually assured destruction. Others, like Deleuze and Guatarri, may argue that the State is an endless machine of war from devouring what is the ‘war machine’. The war machine is a naturally occurring rebellion to the corporate-state complex that has an endless fuel base. However, when combined with the corporate-state, runs endless war with other nations. Empirically, the US has been in constant war since World War II. The Native Americans lived in a war machine ‘utopia’ since the populous could easily overthrow the state (perhaps the council). Essentially, the existence of the corporate-state could have been the genesis of human evil.

    Taking a step further into local violence is not as easily explained. A sort of micro-violence always occurred, even before the corporate-state complex existed. Rape, local disordanince, selfishness, arrogance, murder all happen in a constant cycle, even when the Native American communities existed.

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  45. In answer to number two, I think that ones actions and ones personality play off each other to make the persons a “good” or “bad” person. The reason I think that makes it difficult to determine whether or not a person is good/bad is that other people aren’t that person. Yes, one can make judgements about another and yes those judgements and assumptions can be right, but who are they right to? Are they right to the person they are judging. Back to actions and personality, I think that one’s actions they do which have an outcome which appeals to them, they tend to apply that action to their every day life so that they can satisfy their craving for self satisfaction. An example of this would be a class clown. The class clown makes jokes on other students, teachers and maybe even him/herself. One can assume that those jokes are good because they are funny, but on the other hand, they can be viewed as being mean or “bad” to do so in a classroom environment. But the comedian child gets a rise out of the people. If the clown has an outgoing attention seeking personality, they will do things that may be bad.. But are good for them.. Making them selfish. There is nothing wrong with being selfish because in the end, one has to be able to care for him or herself. Anyway, the actions that the class clown does plays off him and others and once he absorbs it, it alters his personality. I think it is hard to judge the true quality of a person and determine if they are good or bad just by some actions they do. Mainly because that person may be learning about themselves. All I can say is, one person’s good is another’s bad.

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  46. - I think the Blank Slate concept still applies to today. It makes perfect sense. How many times have you heard people say that young people have been "corrupted by society"? It's basic psychology: All people want pleasure. To feel good. Nobody likes pain. When we see something that others do, and seem to be having a good time (for instance, illegal drugs), our mind immediately agrees with that concept. We immediately decide that whatever this activity is, is something that we want to do. We are born as a blank slate because, we learn based on our experiences. This eventually affects our perception of the world around us, and, eventually, reality.

    - There's some issue I have with our soul leaving our body and going somewhere else. I don't like it. I think that once we're dead, it's over. I feel like, if, when our body dies, our soul leaves and is reborn, what's the point of life? Isn't it a little counter-productive? Just imagine those extreme procrastinators: "I'll get around to it in my next life!"

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  47. Statement #3
    The idea that people are naturally good until society corrupts them is a very effective and an extremely true statement. At the beginning of life, you are considered to be at your purest or your "true self." But once you start to have interactions and experiences and start to develop opinions and morals, you stray away from your "true self" and become someone totally different. Your interactions and experience with people ultimately will determine your personality and you attitude about things. For example, if you are a girl in middle school (which in my opinion, is when you're most vulnerable and susceptible to things like peer pressure and trying to fit in) and you have a bad experience with having friends that are girls, you may come to think that all girls are catty and rude so you don't want to be friends with them and end up having male friends instead. Or if you grow up with parents who tell you that you have to do whatever it takes in order to get what you want and to disregard other peoples feelings, you may be more likely to be selfish and think others are inferior. Society is also drilling sex and drugs into the minds of American's and everything is becoming so tolerated in those terms that in order to fit in or be normal, you have to completely morph your morals and essentially become a drug using harlot. No matter how comfortable you are with yourself, society will always work their way into your mind and try to make you succumb to a lifestyle that you might not be comfortable with.

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  48. In response to the last prompt about death and what's after death, I have always been a little ambiguous. I was initially raised Christian and was taught to believe in the afterlife, and I'm not sure if now I don't or if I do. I guess that's why I chose to sit in the I don't know section in class, I've never been sure. As I've grown up I've taken on my own sets of beliefs and not worried about conforming to one type of religion, just letting myself believe what comes naturally and in doing so there has been a lot of benefits but I also get confused on certain topics without guidance, which I guess is the benefit in believing an organized religion. But as far as this goes, after hearing valid arguments from either side, I think I started to believe that this is true; our bodies are separate from our souls, or our "essence". There were a couple of things that really made me believe, but a major one was someone bringing up out of body experiences, which I'd never really connected to this, and having had out of body experiences before, this really hit home. Next, was that I believed that everyone is so different and our brains are so similar, so there has to be another difference I think. If a persons personality has to do entirely with their brain, then I feel like there would be more people who were alike or people would be even more like their parents. I don't know if others will agree, but for me somethings missing, it doesn't add up, how is everyone so different? And I really think the answer to that is that we must have a soul separate from our bodies.

    Emily A.

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