John de Ronde

About John

Bio

EDUCATION and QUALIFICATIONS
September 1966-July 1971 Bachelor of Art (Hons.); Printmaking, Sculpture, History and Philosophy of Art, 2nd class; University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

September 1971-July 1972 Bachelor of Education; Art/English, 2nd class; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

September 1994-July 1996 Bachelor of Philosophy; Education (Implementing ICT in Key stage 3), pass; dissertation on the development and implementation of ICT in the national curriculum

An idea worth spreading

From Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (1999) we learn that:
“Unlike other animals, humans are able to consciously make choices counter to their [biological] self-interest. Indeed much of what we consider “ethical behaviour” falls in this category.
Such voluntary behaviour counter to all biological self-interest is what qualifies as true heroism, moral heroism of the kind George Eliot [described when she] noted that our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds. Such acts make it awkward for even the most hard-core materialists to completely discount the existence of free will, […].”
In response we could say that rather than discount the existence of free will the ‘hard-core materialists’ should instead recognize that free will is instrumental in determining the level of civility in our societies.

I'm passionate about

The capacity to make moral judgments and to act on them helps us to maintain group harmony. Our ‘fitness’ within the group is enhanced when we make the 'right' moral judgment.

Talk to me about

Freedoms - the evolution of free will in western thought and how it relates to the history of eastern thought. Did the Mesopotamians or early Islamic societies have notions of free will?

People don't know I'm good at

Thinking and observing; questioning and reasoning.

My TED story

Free will is a matter of choice - choice between conscientiousness and self interest. We can choose to do the ‘right thing’ and bring in a lost wallet, including its contents or we can take the money and throw away the wallet. When we become leaders we can listen to our people and institute changes for the good of all or we can advance our own interests and that of our family. We can share our lottery win with family and friends and perhaps give some to a worthy charity or blow it all on a good time. Our exercise of free will in favour of our family or community leaves us feeling good about ourselves. Excessive resort to self interest may lead to us feeling guilty – or most of us, anyway. Guilt, in this instance is a good thing. Guilt is an acknowledgement that we’ve done something wrong. When we are blindly self interested we might also become blind to guilt and our sense of what is morally right.

Comments & conversations

134186
John de Ronde
Posted almost 3 years ago
"Morality" is an abused term/concept. Can you suggest a solid definition?
I agree with the suggestion that morality "is a subjective set of principles determined by the people of a community". Also with Fabio that "morality cannot be considered as absolute but related to a certain society, or group of people". I'm sure that the concept of morality has changed over time according to culture and level of enlightenment. The moral codes observed by the European countries who overtook African societies and before that the moral code of church in the middle ages as well as that of Sufi Islamism in the middle east were all completely different from each other even to the point of being misunderstood by one and another. Moral propriety keeps a community together with an understanding of what is right and wrong within that community. It is developed over time. What is right for one community may be unacceptable in another. One community's moral code may even be imposed on another in the event of conflict and defeat. What's worse, some people believe their moral code is superior to others. Here lies the problems we're seeing in the modern world. Why should a minority of Sunnis dictate the moral values of a majority Shias as we see in Bahrain? Why should western Christians impose their values on tribal homelands in Afghanistan? We may not be able to define morality except as a subjective construct but it sure is a hot topic!
134186
John de Ronde
Posted almost 3 years ago
What, to you, are basic human rights?
I agree with Raiford Gardiner who says "There is no “right” that you can’t lose by dint of circumstance, war, mischance, crime, mistakes, poverty, or any number of other reasons." There is no such thing as a 'Human Right". It's all made up - a utopian dream. Talk to the teenage mother giving birth in a mud hut in Africa. Does she have any rights? Talk to democracy dissidents in Syria - do they have any rights? Even our defining human quality, free will can easily be removed by a willful kleptocracy. As R.G. says, what we in 'free' societies see as rights are really only privileges. Whatever the UN declaration states, they can never be more than privileges.
134186
John de Ronde
Posted almost 3 years ago
"Morality" is an abused term/concept. Can you suggest a solid definition?
First, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conscience, a definition of conscience: 1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience. 2. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual. 3. an inhibiting sense of what is prudent: I’d eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me. Richard Joyce in The Evolution of Morality (2006) calls our moral consciousness ‘innate’. Joyce surmises that “morality [and therefore he argues, conscience, which has its basis in moral judgment] exists in virtually every human individual. It develops without formal instruction, with no deliberate effort, and with no conscious awareness of its special features.” Interpreting one of his co-thinkers on morality, Robert Frank (1988), Joyce reiterates that conscience is “a repertoire of judgments and emotions (most notable, guilt) that motivate behavior in accordance with accepted standards of conduct even when external sanctions are absent.” When you catch sight of a dropped wallet and find $100 in it, what would be the right thing to do, bearing in mind you also found the owner’s name and address? The decision you make will tax your conscience, if you allow it to. You do have a conscience because you are vexed by the temptation. How will you feel if you keep the money and throw away the wallet? How would you explain yourself if you give back the wallet and pretend not to know what happened to the cash? As you should be able to see from this we are capable of moral judgment because our inner moral sensibility dictates, persuades, implores us to make the morally right decision. This, in my estimation, is the meaning and implication of conscientiousness - or our sense of what is morally right and wrong.
134186
John de Ronde
Posted almost 3 years ago
Paul Zak: Trust, morality -- and oxytocin?
Sounds like oxytocin is the happiness hormone. It seems also to be the trustworthiness drug. But what does oxytocin have to do with conscience and free will? All humans share the capacity to produce oxytocin when we engage in mutually advantageous interactions. Or when we have sex, or share a hug. Do those of us who are not feeling stressed or who have not suffered social trauma and who also then experience a ready supply of oxytocin have a more balanced sense of moral conscience - knowing what is right or wrong and acting on what is right? When we have engaged with someone in such a way as to make us feel good about ourselves perhaps by making them feel good, we have released oxytocin into our systems. How might this have led to the development of our conscience? Could it be that we are able reflect on how we can be good, thereby ensuring continuous access to higher oxytocin levels? Food for thought.