Pleasure vs. morality

Another way to understand the difference between what we naturally owe our children (ethics) and what we artificially “owe” our parents (morality) is in terms of the dichotomy pleasure vs. pain.

We all know what it feels like to be fighting for anyone’s rights. It feels tense, hard, dramatic… and, well, empty inside, painful, helpless… if we have the honesty to look further from whatever flag we are raising. It is hard to imagine that “fighting for children’s rights” would the sort of attitude making anyone¬†bond with a baby.

infantcarriedbychildAnd that is because there are no “rights” or morality whatsoever in nature, other than as a mistaken product of the intellect. There are just the rules that we are meant to follow intuitively, which support our bodies — that support our intellect — and which are in complete accordance with the greater cooperative order we evolved within: what I call ethics.

Ethics is pleasure, and morality is pain.

From their position on the mother’s hip they have available to them their entire social world (…) When the mother is standing, the infant’s face is just at the eye-level of desperately maternal 10-to-12-year-old girls who frequently approach and initiate brief, intense, face-to-face interactions, including mutual smiling and vocalization. When not in the sling they are passed from hand to hand around a fire with one adult or child after another. They are kissed on their faces, bellies, genitals, sung to, bounced, entertained, encouraged, even addressed at length in conversational tones long before they can understand words. Throughout the first year there is rarely any dearth of such attention and love. (p.292)

Aspects of the developmental ethology of a foraging people. Konner (1972)

(I am not saying that the San Kung tribe is the perfect example of ethical goodness, or genuine pleasure, but they certainly give us a glimpse into this question, since they are the best studied and the closest to our evolutionary origins.)

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