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are we born with a moral compass?

  1. janesix profile image60
    janesixposted 3 years ago

    I say we are born knowing right from wrong. People KNOW they are doing something wrong, and yet choose to do it anyway.

    Our moral compass is a gift from God.

    Morals are inborn in my opinion.

    Discuss.

    1. 0
      Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I think we're born with a conscience (moral compass), yes.

    2. kess profile image60
      kessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Morality begins from understanding and differentiating between yes and no...

      From Birth we are endowed with such a capacity.

    3. A Troubled Man profile image61
      A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Really excellent and blatant contradiction. lol

    4. SparklingJewel profile image66
      SparklingJewelposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      ...we may have been born with a moral compass, but it becomes corrupted gradually by the twists of truth that the human ego conjures to satisfy itself.

      Ultimate Truth/moral compass can be restored, but the roots of corruption are always present through the corruption of others "watering" those roots. i.e.  no one is perfect, it is the human condition and we have to concstantly and consistently desire to look to a higher source of conscience for guidance

    5. 0
      Rad Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Children are ethically immature as are some adults, but they start to show signs of kindness at a very young age.

  2. wilderness profile image97
    wildernessposted 3 years ago

    No.  I've never seen a child that, upon discovering a lie might save them a "consequence" would not lie about what they did.

    I've never seen a young child that wouldn't sometimes take a toy from a smaller child if they could. 

    I've never seen a child that wouldn't instinctively strike at a perceived wrong, and often just to get a reaction.  They're bored; hit someone and get some excitement.

    Children from different countries have much different morals; morals taught by their parents and morals that didn't have to "unteach" a different set first.

    So no, we are not born with a Christian set of morals, or any morals at all.  They are taught by society (mostly parents and siblings), by expediency (being nice gets nice in return) and by sheer necessity (don't steal or you'll go to jail).

    1. janesix profile image60
      janesixposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I don't agree.

      You don't know what those children are thinking because of their behavior.

      I know when I was young, if I did something bad, I knew for a fact it was wrong. It felt wrong.

      1. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Truthfully, I doubt that you can remember what you felt, said or thought at the ripe old age of 2 or 3.  It doesn't take long, of course, for children to learn what Mom and Dad think is right or wrong and with a little more time and effort it is those right's and wrong's that become the basis of our morality.

        One of the biggest objections to the idea of an inborn morality is that different cultures have different morals.  People have the morals of the culture they were brought up in, and those morals can vary widely over the world.  There are only a handful that are even close to being universal but even then you can find differences of opinion, particularly if you look at cultures of the past, when civilizations were far apart and seldom if ever visited.  The ancient Jewish penchant and instructions for the keeping of slaves, for example, or the idea of stoning someone to death for minor offenses against society.

      2. relache profile image87
        relacheposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        If wilderness can't know what other children are thinking, that means of course that you can't either.

        1. janesix profile image60
          janesixposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Once again, Relache, you have proven you are a genius.

  3. grand old lady profile image90
    grand old ladyposted 3 years ago

    I think we are born with a conscience. This doesn't mean we always follow it. Even children have a sense of right and wrong, but they will still try to get away with things. The same can be said for societies. There may be cultural norms, but that's different from having an inner sense of right or wrong. Also, cultural norms come from a certain way of thinking. In the Philippines we believe in saving face, so if someone asks for something, to save their face we will say "yes," but not do it because we can't. It's considered being polite and thoughtful. In the Western culture this would be confusing and would be seen as being hypocritical. But other Filipinos would understand this norm and either not ask for the impossible, or would ask for it but not immediately believe that "yes" means "yes." In the same way, another polite way of saying "No" would be to say "I'll try," or "maybe." Another Filipino will understand that to mean "no" and will understand that the person is being polite. A westerner would simply take the person at his word. I grew up in the States and Europe, and when I came to live in the Philippines it took me more than 10 years before I finally came to understand this.

    1. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Do you understand that you have just claimed that the location of birth determines what morals the baby is born with?  That those morals somehow "collect" in the baby from the surrounding earth or air before birth?

      What you describe is an outright lie - something quite immoral in my area.  But something quite moral and acceptable in yours - it must be coming from the water or something if morals are instilled before birth yet are dependent on geographical location.  And morals most certainly are dependent on location and culture.

      1. grand old lady profile image90
        grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        This is hard to understand, but the cultural ethic of saving face is not an outright lie, because people within the cultural community understand each other and what it means. In other words, it is primarily a matter of motivation rather than linguistics. Westerners are more straightforward so it appears to be an outright lie because if, in your own cultural community you spoke in such manner it would indeed be so. To say "yes" when you mean "no" would be motivated by an intention to lie. In our case, to speak frankly and say "No" may be motivated by a desire to be rude. So intention is more the issue here than linguistics. And a moral compass primarily involves intention.

  4. MelissaBarrett profile image60
    MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago

    Have you people actually HAD children?

    Just wondering... as you seem to have had children that knew right from wrong with absolutely no parental guidance at all.

    I wish I had kids like that.  I had/have to teach mine.

    1. Zelkiiro profile image84
      Zelkiiroposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      People always seem to forget that children are innately evil.

      1. Disappearinghead profile image88
        Disappearingheadposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Your children maybe.....but not mine.

      2. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Actually, no.  Kids of a young age are no more evil than a rock is. 

        Amoral, yes, until they are taught better, but not immoral or evil.

        1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
          MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          They are born completely self-centered and self-absorbed.  They have truly neutral morality and are pure anarchists. Their needs are all they are concerned with and all bonding until around 3(ish) is based solely on dependency on their caregivers to fill their needs.

          They are little sociopaths smile Not evil, just really really selfish.

    2. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Me, too, Melissa.  I guess ours are children of the devil - it kind of puts a different face on why those demons kept visiting a few months before the kids were born. smile

    3. grand old lady profile image90
      grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Yes, I have a 22 year old daughter. She has DNA, she has personality qualities that are a mix of mine and the hubby's. She also, as a child had no malice. I recall when she was an infant and she couldn't talk but she was wide awake. I told her I was so sleepy and couldn't carry her or anything. I slept for about two hours, and she didn't bother me. When I woke up, she was still awake, lying in bed, sucking her thumb. She understood sleep and she was aware that we do that when we're tired. And though she usually wanted attention and distraction through toys, etc. when she is awake, she somehow understood that I was tired and she let me sleep. As for how I raised her, I wrote a hub about it but can't link it. At each stage that a child grows, the moral compass is there too, that doesn't mean they won't do wrong. You have to teach them, but when they do wrong they are aware that what they did was wrong.

    4. 70
      Robertr04posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      +1

  5. peeples profile image89
    peeplesposted 3 years ago

    I  feel I am proof we are born with the ability to know right from wrong the moment our brain begins working. I was raised in a house that only did bad things. I had very little to no contact with the outside world yet I always had a "feeling" that what we were doing was wrong. I remember riding in the back seat of the car around 8 or so. We had just got done robbing some closed down store and I was thinking how wrong it was.
    Now with that said, I think the idea that MY ability to use MY brain is somehow some magical being's gift for me is crazy.

    1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
      MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Sometimes observed negative behavior is as good of a lesson as positive behavior.

      I would not be nearly as concerned with equal rights had my father not been a racist.  The desire to act differently than one's parents is also a perfectly explainable phenomena and has nothing to do with any innate moral compass.  It's rebellion, which is a completely normal developmental stage.

      No God needed.

    2. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Your, and Melissa's example, are both good indications that by the time a child is old enough to form definite long term memories they are also old enough to at least begin forming morals.

      The question, though, is does a very young child, 2 or 3 years old, also have those morals?  Experience is raising children says "No" - that children are not born with them.  They are formed from environmental interaction as the child ages.

      1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
        MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        The moral argument is quite neatly solved by studying children who have been deprived of human contact. They become no more than animals.  Hence, no innate moral code.

        1. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          You understand you're creating quite a dilemma, don't you?

          Without God to instill those values it is left to humans.  Humans that are fallible and can make mistakes and humans that may not have the "right" morals to instill in the first place.  Children are then incorrectly taught values that will nearly always remain with them for life, all because the wrong entity put them there.  Or because the right entity did not...

          1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
            MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            Don't you hate that?

            Knowledge that the raising of your own children and the responsibility of their moral well-being falls squarely on your shoulders...

            *Shudders*

            Does that mean I have to actually think about the effects of what I'm teaching/showing them too?

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              No.  I have no responsibility for teaching my children.  You can't make me have any responsibility at all!  I won't, I won't!  (stamping feet and turning red faced)

              Personally, I hold to the barrel theory of raising children.  Enjoy them until the age of 12.  At 13, but them in a barrel and fasten then top on, feeding the teen aged "creature" through the bung hole.  At 18, decide whether to remove the top and run them off the property or simply drive in the bung.

              1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
                MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                I love teenagers!  It's the stage between 3-5 that drives me buggy.

                My daughter hasn't stopped talking in the last year and a half.  She even talks in her sleep.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  Oh, it's the 2-5's that I like.  Of course, I'm grandpa now and send them home most nights - that could possibly be a part of that enjoyment.  My grandson, now 5, has a speech impediment and it's only the past few months that he can really make himself understood.  The result is non-stop talking and I love peering into that little mind and seeing what's going on in there.

                  I do remember the teen years with my two, though.  Not sure I want to repeat that.

                  1. 70
                    Robertr04posted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Yeah Gramps. I like them now even more, since they are grown and have kids of their own and understand the why's and why nots they endured smile and smile as I watch them pass on the values we instilled in them.

        2. grand old lady profile image90
          grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          That may explain behavior, but not a moral code. Neither does that explain any DNA that they inherited from their parents. But just as their DNA is there, so, too is the moral code. They followed the behavior of animals because that's what they knew. But the potential of their innate personality and their ability to appreciate their innate moral code still is there.

          1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
            MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            No, it really isn't.  Those who have been completely isolated from any living thing have become feral... even when there were no animals to model. But even if they model behavior from animals, it just proves that they learn their morals from their environment.

            They have no moral code. They have no personality other than the personality that we could attribute to a wild animal.

            Please research the topic.

          2. grand old lady profile image90
            grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            The above is a response to Melissa Barrett and her citing examples of children raised by animals. I have read about The Wild Boy of Aveyron and know that there were other stories of children left in the woods. Usually these children were mentally ill and so they ended up there. The Wild Boy of Aveyron was also deemed mentallly ill. His education formed the foundation of the Montessori method of teaching.

            1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
              MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Well, how good that Melissa Barrett responded to it.

              You read a wonderful fictionalized book then, not the actual psychological paper. You read about one case, where the boy was lost at a late age, after exposure to humans... I believe.

              In addition, of course he was diagnosed as mentally ill.  Was he went he went into the woods?  Hmm...

              And you also didn't read my posts... human beings exposed to no animal or human contact turn into animals.

              Not just ones "raised by animals".. Indicating that without socialization we all revert to animal state.

              1. grand old lady profile image90
                grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Here's a link to The Wild boy of Aveyron. http://haberdasher.hubpages.com/hub/The … f-Aveyron.

                I would be delighted to read any links you send me.

                Many thanks,

                Mona.

                1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
                  MelissaBarrettposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_of_Aveyron

                  You can read there at the end how the book and the movie were both fictionalized.

                  1. grand old lady profile image90
                    grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Thank you, I'll read it now.

      2. 70
        Robertr04posted 3 years ago in reply to this

        +1 for you also.

    3. 0
      Beth37posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      That is so interesting peeples, thanks for sharing that story... I think it is one that will stick with me for a long time.

  6. Mark Ewbie profile image82
    Mark Ewbieposted 3 years ago

    It's funny how moral compasses all point in different directions.  If they are from God then he needs to improve his manufacturing process.

    1. 0
      Motown2Chitownposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I tend to think everyone's moral compass is like the compass from Pirates of the Caribbean.  They point toward exactly what it is we want the most.  It's completely up to us to figure out whether to follow the straight course to just that thing, or to figure out how and when to veer so that our final destination is what has done the most good for the most people and has shown us the right and proper lessons that we are to have taught our children.

      1. Mark Ewbie profile image82
        Mark Ewbieposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I agree about children.  They are pure and untainted and it is everyone's moral duty to guide them, not through our own mini-me attitudes, but towards someone who can prosper in society, contribute and not do anything too bad.  Something like that.

        For those who aren't children - it's mostly decided anyway.

    2. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      When one group declares that the greatest good you can do is strap on a load of explosives and suicide in a group of heathens it does make you wonder, doesn't it?

      1. Mark Ewbie profile image82
        Mark Ewbieposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Now then, you know my triggers. I am not sure whether the moral compass attached to the front of a drone is any better than that on a pressure cooker.

        But lets not spoil an interesting thread about compasses.

  7. prettydarkhorse profile image68
    prettydarkhorseposted 3 years ago

    No, you learn it. Or perhaps you seek it. Let us say Tarzan who lives in the forest alone with animals, then he can form those set of values in relation to animals.

  8. stclairjack profile image80
    stclairjackposted 3 years ago

    in my humble opinion, we are NOT born with a moral compass. we are born, by virtue of nothing more than being human, with a higher functioning brain.

    that means that we get to use tools like "logic" and "reason"... we have a higher thought proscess, we can ponder our existance rather than just our lunch. so from the time we are born and take our first breath, we are employing our higher functioning, rappidly growing brain to LEARN.

    we learn what works and what doesnt. the same as a sea otter learns what size rock to pick up and use as a tool to open a clam... but humans, being social creatures, spend the bulk of our first years learning social skills,... we learn how to behave,... what works (gets a positive response) and what doesnt (gets a negative response)

    i dont think that a moral compass exists, let alone is born in each of us as if by magic,... the magic is nothing more than the cosmic luck of being born with a higher brain that can use tools like logic and reason to solve social problems.

    example, children who are born with certain mental deficets are sometimes very slow in learning social skills required to assimilate in society,.. they act out longer, it takes them longer to learn how to think outside thier own desires,... actions and consequences,... and its doubly hard for thier parents to teach them thses things.

    1. grand old lady profile image90
      grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      To MelissaBarrett,

      Great respect for what you said, and for how you concluded your last statement. I agree with some points. With others, what matters is that we can agree to disagree and cheerfully share a bottle of virtual wine:).

  9. prettydarkhorse profile image68
    prettydarkhorseposted 3 years ago

    It is developed, learned plus shared and not innate.

  10. quildon profile image86
    quildonposted 3 years ago

    No, we are not born with it. It has to be developed and shaped by our environment. Some people never develop because of the environment in which they grow up. David, after he'd sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, said, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51 : 5). He knew that what he was doing it was wrong, but he did it anyway. We are no different.

    1. grand old lady profile image90
      grand old ladyposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I believe that the fact that David knew what he planned to do was wrong, but did it anyway is proof of a moral compass. A moral compass is an understanding of right and wrong. It doesn't control our actions. Later, David repented and that response was also part of his moral compass. David is a great example in the Bible of a man who did a lot of bad things, including killing a man. He was a normal human being who sins, but he always repented eventually. This didn't mean he didn't suffer consequences for his sins. He was forgiven, but there was so much infighting among his children because he wasn't perfect.

 
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