Psychopaths, raised or born?

24 Jan

Friedrich Nietzsche in his infamous essay On The Genealogy of Morality postulates that there are two types of morality; Slave, which values kindness and empathy, and that of the master, which places worth on power over their fellow man. It was this idea that was in the back of my mind when I recently read Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s National Geographic article What Science Tells Us About Good And Evil.

Noting how acts of extreme horror and altruism play out in daily life, Bhattacharjee ask whether the extremes of master-slave morality come from the age old question of nature vs nurture.. Taking a range of scientific answers, with succinct pictures to dissect that information, suggest that several factors play in these outliers actions. It could be upbringing, purely genetic defects, or trauma. Anecdotal accounts from people on either ends of the slave-master spectrum either give or have their stories told about their incidents. This is what really seems to be more important to the paper.

As mentioned, the idea of the nature vs nurture argument is given early on, but with the narrative based pieces given out so frequently the audience becomes biased. Most individuals, as shown by one of the great demonstrative images, indicates that most of human trends in a decent level of empathy scores, with those at the slave extreme reaching far higher number in population than those of at the master end. By putting out the human experience stories, one will become connected to those aspects much more intimately than that of science. A reader such as I will be attracted to the ideas of human intimacy affecting one another, than yet one more work of dreary science.

I understand that that might be a strange one of interpreting Bhattacharjee’s intentions, but I see no other reason for him to include the interaction sections so prominently. He is aiming for us to connect, prove the empathy, the sense of the slave morality, linking it to the idea of human nature being more important in ones development, rather than cold science. Of course, I might just be overthinking this.


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