Thursday, 9 January 2014

Living without `thinking'

In response to Gordon (7th Jan) I would say that living is a complex rich personal experience that becomes a rich social experience when we share our lives and live in each others presence. Human language and thought evolved to facilitate this not in order to travel independantly through the ether conjuring truth from its own structure and by sticking to anything else it could find and then dragging it around. Talk, writing and thought are out of hand. Lets bring them back to sharing experiences between friends and otherwise living our interdependance.

Surprisingly the difference between novice and experienced nursery children is that the novice children see no difference between social conventions such as `not putting the crayons away' and taking what another child is playing with. Experienced children are acutely aware of the difference between social convention and morality ( not taking from someone else, not physically man handling them etc). Studies show that they do not learn the difference from the behaviour, emotional responses and talk of the responsible adults. The adults behave, even subtly, in the same way for both (this is also true of the home environment). They learn from the way their peers react. Their peers could not care less about the crayons, except when they are frightened of being told off by the adults, but show distress, aggression etc when something is taken or they are manhandled. Moral principles come directly from our relationship with one another mediated by nothing else!! By the way the adults in nusery settings believe that they teach the children moral principles and so to do their parents. Why do they believe this? Because they have told them. The light does not come from, through or by words. As children get older talk about moral principles does involve parents and teachers but your friends still drive the whole business. You are as good as the company you keep.

There are a whole lot of things we can draw from this finding. All of them about the dangers of denaturing human experience. Perhaps even we have been reduced to only being able to talk about living.



1 comment:

Paul Newman said...

"Moral principles come directly from our relationship with one another mediated by nothing else!! "
Yes indeed Robert - please allow me to share an experience with you that illustrates your point - Some years ago, my Father told me why he gave up smoking. Apparently, when I was about five years old, my Father, having known the dangers for years, had a conversation with me that went something like this...

"Daddy, does smoking make you die?"
"Yes, Son."
"Don't die, Daddy."