Are Human Beings basically Good? Yes, Say Scientists

‘Spontaneous Giving and Calculated Greed’ –  this is the title of a scientific article in the prestigious Scientific Journal NATURE.   Surely, we have often heard that human beings are basically good. Now Science has come up with evidence proving this hypothesis. Scientists at Harvard & Yale universities ( Biologists, psychologists & Mathematicians) carried out experiments based on economic games with about 800 undergraduate students to test the hypothesis. The experimental subjects were asked to take decisions under 2 sets of conditions – one intuitively on the spur of the moment and another based on reflection & analysis after, say, at least 10 seconds. It was invariably found that decisions based on intuition reflected a caring and cooperative attitude. On the other hand, decisions taken after reflection invariably led to greedy, aggressive or selfish behaviour.

Richard Dawkins, in his famous book, Selfish Genes, describes the same phenomenon saying that cooperation is intuitive to human behaviour since it is basically advantageous to maximize ‘inclusive fitness’.

Interestingly, this is what most of the theologians & philosophers the world over have maintained all along. Hindu philosophers always believed in the basic goodness of human beings. They argued that it was only when the mind  overworked with all its negative qualities of anger, jealousy, greed etc that the basic nature of the beings got completely overshadowed. Our Vedantic philosophy refers to this aspect of the mind as VAASANAAS meaning our past SAMSKARAAS or memories residing in our subconscious Mind. J Krishnamurthy would call it the conditioned mind with all its negatives.

The Zen philosophers also echoed the same ideas by saying: All beings are, by nature, Budhas. Therefore,  Spontaneity arising from Complete freedom is the key for joyful living. Of course spontaneity should not be confused with impulsiveness. Spontaneity arises out of complete awareness & attention. On the other hand, impulsiveness is unconscious, knee-jerk reactions causing regret later.

Thus a simple trick to make us manifest our basic good nature seems to be to minimize the use of reflection and analysis before taking decisions. Go along with your pure heart rather than the polluted mind!

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Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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