Frank Weil lectures; #1 (Reel 2)
Now there can be a footnote a very important one to this story about the pecking order in the pessimism it engendered. Some biologists recently have commented that the pecking order essentially is a manifestation of a pattern of order and stability even though it does not produce equality. The absence of some such orderly arrangement could result in a constant turmoil of repeated belligerent tests of strength and superiority and a chaotic and dangerous series of hostile interaction. Fundamentally the pecking order can be interpreted as the development of a pattern which has great survival value for the group. It prevents the struggles in the group from becoming damaging and some of them even could have become damning could become damaging to the point of killing members of the same species. But this prevents it become it provides a modus vivendi in which energy can be directed in other ways. And perhaps it helps to assure a high
rate of reproduction in animals of greater strength and potential for survival. In a sense a status order is an example of what should we will talk about in the second lecture of a defensive social arrangements a defensive ethics. It may represent the development of order and system as a defense against rampant hostility but it falls short of what we shall discuss later under the general title of a create about thinks of equality fairness equal opportunity and a mutually respecting partnership. Now in contrast to the pessimistic response to the reports about the pecking order a limited degree of optimism now seems appropriate when we consider a number of recent developments in the field of biology. Or perhaps instead of speaking of optimism I should speak of that the negating of a previous pessimism not the pessimism just about the pecking order. But the more
general pessimism of the post Darwinian period about man's biological heritage. This is one of the most dramatic most important stories to provide a solid approach a solid basis for the development of ethics that I know and so I want to give it with adequate emphasis I hope to outline this story we start inevitably with the work of Darwin from his work and that of many others it is clear that man is an animal and is a product of an evolutionary process. In understanding that process one of the essential ideas is that of natural selection the survival of the Fed. Darwin emphasize the survival value of competition and strength and adaptation. But he recognised also to some degree the survival of value the survival value of co-operation especially in the ants and the Bee.
After Darwin however the concept of the survival of the fittest came to emphasize the violence of animals toward each other. Such phrases as the law of the jungle law as Nature red in tooth and claw tennis. Of killer beat that became dominant in the description of all animal life. The general idea was that animals not only killed other animals for food but also killed animals of the same species. In the struggle for existence yes. Now this emphasis after Darwin on the display of competitive struggle for biologic survival. Of the individual of the biased survival of the individual and the species was then used as a just as a rationalization a justification for destructive economic competition in the industrial revolution. The biologic struggle for survival for
existence was used also to justify the destructive competition of powerful nations with each other and with the people of their colonies whom they regarded is biologically inferior. A stronger more powerful individual or group is assumed to have the right biologically to compete violently with others and to win at the cook. Now basically the concept of animal violence the survival of the fittest is taken to mean that man's animal heritage consists of a century of murderous competition. It was assumed that the hostility and killing of man by man was primarily based on his biologic and evolutionary development justice mercy the brotherhood of man compassion seemed like empty exhortation when it was up against the overwhelming stress of biologic survival. Of the fittest. They struggle for existence.
This why is I mean this is I'm happy to say not the dominant feeling because if I see the development of biology and correct perspective the emphasis has changed. The Post Darwinian emphasis on struggle and violence and animal life with a social Darwinism that followed its lead resulted in a corrective movement with a sharp criticism by Julian Huxley by Richard Hofstadter and many others most implicit in the fact that during the most important is the fact that during the past 50 years it was found that an extraordinary number and variety of species of animals in the wild in their natural habitat live in congenial social groups in many of these the patterns of cooperation and mutual help are. Common to the bees and the answer not the only species which have systems and systems of mutual help. Fish swim in school because such a co-operative system has survival value
helps to keep them alive. There are two possibilities one is fish swimming in school was made to other larger animals looked like one animal the fish in the group. The other possibility is that some of the toxins the poisons in the water are caught more easily in the mucus which is C created by the gills of the fish when the fish are closer together the concentration of the mucus is greater This was on the basis of experimentation done University. The group living of many items seems to enhance their defense against other animals that might want to eat them the product tars and helps in their finding of food for themselves. Both of which have obvious serve viable value. Now the endpoint of such observations about animals living in cooperate groups is the recognition that cooperation group
living in mutual help must be regarded as having a most important place alongside competition and struggle as methods for the survival of the individual and of the species as cooperation helps to survive as well as competition in helping to survive in the animal struggle for life for survival of himself and of the species. Now this basic biological fact of the survival value of group living of mutual help is clearly important for a discussion of manna and of ethics and we shall refer to it time to time in these lectures. Now at times the emphasis on cooperation and the criticism of social Darwinism seemed even to under play the importance of competition. But now if I evaluated correctly the consensus seems to include the following points.
One is that animals of many species are violent to the point of killing animals of other species. When one species uses the other as a source of food or when one species defends itself against the attempt of other species to use it as food or when two species interact in some other fight producing situation is further an animal may have violent fights with the animals of the same species its own species almost to the point of killing and protecting its territory against invaders or if it is without territory in trying to invade and take over the territory of another. And also animals fight almost to the point of death in struggles for status or dominance or in struggles of sexual competition. But most frequently now according to most of the observers on the research or use the Alamo sub one species have what seems to be an innate pattern of defense against their
killing members of the same species. Yes I have the innumerable photographs now taken from articles in which it can be seen that two animals of the same species in a violent fight a fight that seems inevitably to go toward one killing the other. The death does not occur. What happens is that one animal of the two or a fighting gives a signal such as the turning of the head to expose the side of the neck. With the juggler vein the carotid artery which could be used then for a quick killing point by the victor in the fight. When that. Happens in a number of species the victorious animal. Turns away automatically even the heat in the heat of the combat. And the one who has declared that it is losing the battle is allowed to escape. This is one of the most fantastic of all findings now
in biology and one which I had great difficulty in believing for a long time now the evidence is almost overwhelming. The suggestion from that was made and still is being made that man may be the only animal which regularly kills members of the same species. This was incorrect an overstatement and a good be less of an overstatement and perhaps correct to say that the man may be the only vertebrate animal of the animal's backbone which regularly kills members of the same species as a part of direct competitive fighting. This phrasing excludes the bees which kill the drone as part of the insect cycle and exclude certain insects which eat the young and explode certain other instances not related to competitive fighting. But even the second statement may need to be modified. There are reports that some groups of rats kill each other in competitive fighting but this is in contemporary urban
life which in some areas may not be a good natural habitat even for rocks. Also I have heard of a recent conference in which some evidence was considered the finding of bodies of individual primate animals which may have been cured in competitive struggles but still further it seems that captivity or the inability to escape or to use in a pitch well pattern make change the picture. Under these circumstances animals may kill each other it's others of the same species. For example when lemmings go on their march to the sea which occasionally has been called a mass suicide this is Scandinavia. They frequently snap and bite at each other but the biologist observing them noted that when the members of the group could keep the distance between them and an adequate number of inches no one is hurt seriously. Then one day a biologist captured ten lemmings during the march to the sea placed them overnight in a box which was not quite large enough to permit their usual defensive
distancing. By morning all 10 lemmings were dead each had bled to death from being bitten frequently by others of the group when they could not use their usual pattern of defense of staying anough inches away from each other. Now the evidence is not only in and judgments are far from final but so far it seems probable that many or most or all of the vertebrate in fright human animals in their natural habitat do not kill members of the same species in direct fighting. Man may be the only one which does or may be one of a small number of species that do. If this is true it also is profoundly important. My evaluation of its importance is essentially on a double negative basis. It would negate the negative the deeply pessimistic post Darwinian world view that man's membership in the animal kingdom means that man as an animal is fated to
violence is almost doomed to continue killing other men. Since it was thought that other animals routinely are frequently killed others the same species when that was thought then membership in the animal kingdom seem to do man also to inevitable and forever killing of other men but if in large part now. Other animals never or almost never kill members of the same species it becomes possible that man has a biologic defense almost so against species specific killing the kind of defense which is characteristic of many other animals but which in man isn't used when you use a ball. But even more probable one would say that man's pattern of killing other man is more coach role than biologic an AR agenda and that a more effective defense in man against killing other man can be
developed out of his culture rather than as an automatic biologic defense against killing of the sorts that the other animals have. But the root to the thinking through now are that a successful defense against man's killing of other men is open and if the man's killing of other man is in good part culturally based it must be studied in depth and breadth. Almost certainly it arises in good part out of the fact that there is a prolonged period of dependence of relative helplessness and a vulnerability in the human infant in the human child. This period is much longer than in any other species and there is laboratory evidence for example in Harlow studies of monkeys that even in animals which have much shorter periods of childhood dependency than has man the experiences during infancy have profound and lasting affects through the rest of the animal's life.
Now if man's killing of other men is rooted essentially in his early childhood the eradication of man's killing of man and still will not be easy even though it's not biologically inherited it still may be extremely different. But it may not be the impossible task that it seemed to be in the thinking that say of those of us who had most of our education earlier in this century so far in our comments about biology we have noticed two major trends. One is the finding that cooperation and mutual help is a widespread pattern or so of survival all along with the competitive struggle which have long been recognized as crucial for survival. The second important point is the frequency with which competitive struggles within a species then that includes inborn techniques of preventing the in-process species fights from resulting in the death of the
loser. Now there's a third important set of observations which has to do with the baboons. Until recently the baboons the chimpanzee the monkey the gorilla and the others. Study of primates. This study is most often were done with the animals in captivity and those who are in an enclosed part of me are in the laboratory. This is a very good setting for some types of studies but it fails to give a good portrayal of the animal in its natural habitat. The patterns of its usual relation with others of its own species and with the rest of its environment. Captivity and especially restriction to a small area has drastic effect as was seen in most dramatic day in the experiment with the lemmings. But now the primates are being studied as they are on the wire out of responding through their own biologic needs and patterns and to the circumstances of their And far.
Now among the movies of the baboons in its natural habitat some show the troop of about 15 baboons at the moment they suddenly became aware of the fact that a number of dangerous predatory animals Tigers were about to attack them. The danger was immediate and desperate but in life the survival of the baboons was at stake. Their response was instantaneous. The most striking point is that the three oldest male of baboons did not try to escape did not run away did not do what might have been safest for each one as an individual. Instead the three rushed in the direction from which the predators were coming and then stood facing them between the Tigers and the rest of the retreating troop of baboons. The three baboons stood their ground making what B can interpret as frightening gestures
and repulsive faces. These three were in imminent danger of death the baboons as relatively small of the predatory as were much larger stronger more powerful. It's clear that the behavior of the three baboons greatly increased the risk that they would be killed and decrease the risk for the rest of the crew. The predators seem slowed down but the rear guard action of the three elders of the tribe and the rest of the troop escapes safely. I understand that most often in such a situation the older males escape as well. Now the temptation is to shout Bravo and to say that this was profoundly a magnificently ethic. But again we say Satan are you here again. So let's reconsider this for there. First one must say this is not the only situation in which an in frank human animal behaves in a way which risks its life and
simultaneously lessens the risk to others. Perhaps the best known of the older reports is the behavior of a mother bird which distracts the attention of attackers from the young in the nest. The mother bird flies around noisily and as if one of her own wings was broken as if she herself might be helpless. Now the similarity to certain instances of human behavior is obvious in human life an individual behaves in a way which at the same time indeed Gers his her own her own survival. But increases the chance of the survival of others or of the group is regarded as showing one of the highest forms of ethical behavior. But there may be a reason to hesitate in speaking of the comparable behavior in animals other than man is clearly being ethical in the usual sense of the word. There may be one point of difference in the behavior of the baboons and the comparable behavior in man. This has to do with the
process of choice. The Bab in the reported situation of danger may have no choice. He may be responding as he must respond out of an inborn pattern of response to this situation in the comparable situation in man the protector can be said to make a choice. Or seems to make a choice to fight the attackers rather than to run away. But there remains the solid fact that the social patterns of the baboons troop include one in which even the strongest members of the group the top three of their equivalent of a pecking order will behave in a situation of great danger in a way which jeopardizes their own survive Allah as it increases the chance of survival. Of the group. Now the whole is sure the problem of choice of behavior and its relationship with ethics. I must
not take at this point because our time is about over but I will be able to include it in connection with the issues of defense of ethics and of creative ethics. At a later time in which in addition we shall have to think about the issue of unconscious choice unconscious ethics. So now we go to the part of my lecture tonight. Now the existence of this kind of will organize social behavior in animals other than man. Whether it is called ethical or not seems profoundly important. Such behavior indicates the social patterns in man which seem so valuable. Need not be regarded as biologic or cultural epi phenomenon super imposed to unmanned spy a logic current here. Rather the extensive
and varied social behavior of the other animals indicates that man's socially oriented patterns may be a part of man's biological heritage as well as a part of man's cultural heritage the behavior he learns after he is born. If this be true the strong forces of violence destructiveness warrior and all of man's inhumanity to man which perhaps on biologic cultural and individual in origin. These may be matched with the in the man by the further development of strong counter forces of socially oriented patterns which also are a biologic cultural and individual an origin. To rephrase this concept which I think is sent. It now seems that man's pattern of living in a social order and of having patterns which govern the relation of one man to other man and to the group often in the
form of ethical standards are consistent with and didn't continuity with the pattern of living in a social order which is so prominent in the lives. Of many other animal VMS. Now to recapitulate we must not rely on a study of other animals for an understanding of the specifics of man's behavior and of his ethics. Each species differs so much that a simple translation is impossible. But we can say with conviction that the study of other animals does not show that reliable patterns of ethical behavior are impossible in man just because he has an enema and some years ago we would have said that now we need God. Of course it's true that in animal life there is extraordinary cruelty predatory attacks fighting for territory fighting for dominance and other destructive behavior. But in animal life there also are extraordinary attempts to control all of the animals violence
especially toward members of the same species and in animal life there seems to be as much cooperation and mutual help as there is competition and violence. With this in mind we can now avoid the romantic fantasy of the natural animal as the embodiment of innocence purity simplicity and love. And with this in mind we also can avoid the post Darwinian distortion. But the jungle is a place in which animals are engaged most of their lives in destroying members of the same species and others that are all so it is a fantasy a pseudo realistic pseudo sophisticated illusion. Now no longer can we rationalize anti ethical activity by saying that man is an animal and therefore has only a primary and perhaps irresistible impulses to her to kill to attack to to dominate. Also no longer can we say that man's
animal heritage means that he cannot have patterns of cooperation. Some day it may be possible to say with certainty that man has the biologic as well as the cultural potential for both such patterns and that booth may play a role in his development. So the studies of other animals do not provide us with an understanding of man that will come only from the study of man himself. Study of other animals do permit us to go forward with our study of man with out the gnawing doubt that when we talk of mans cooperation and mutual help of his socially valuable patterns of his attempts to control his destructive drives and of his attempts to consider the well-being of others as well as of the him self that we might be talking about a being which is not an animal but now we can speak of man as an animal. And we can speak of his helpfulness to others and to be socially oriented patterns as being patterns similar or similar to
those which can be found through much of the animal kingdom. With this biologic baseline established we can turn to the extraordinary ways in which man has developed far beyond the other around. Us. And next time we shall look directly at man not only at man as an animal but as a man as a member of his culture and especially a man and as human self. And we shall look closely at the forces within man which may be in harmony with each other with each other which often are in a resoundingly conflict. It is our study of these forces in the end of the conflict between that. And the resolution of these conflicts which give us our best understanding. Of the agony and the ecstasy over life of the richness in the form us of the emptiness and the heartache of life and of the creativeness and destructiveness of the life of man.
And the issues of ethical behavior and ethical principles play a major role in man's conflict Sandman's solution as you have just heard Dr. Maurice Levine a professor and director of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine speaking on survival and ethics. The first of a series of lectures on psychiatry and ethics. Giving up the Franco Weill Institute at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. The topic of Dr. Levine's next lecture is defense of ethics. These programs were produced at the University of Cincinnati station WG U.S. and are distributed by the national educational radio network.
- Frank Weil lectures
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- #1 (Reel 2)
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-42-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- APA: Frank Weil lectures; #1 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tq5rd63v