Internal Computing of Morality(for me)-or why I hate my brain sometimes…


mammalian-brain-computer-inside

(image credit: http://www.voodish.co.uk/articles/human-brain-simulated-on-super-computer/)

Morality. Noun. Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

I always wonder how people develop their morality, how they make “moral” choices, and what they mean when they describe a person as a “moral” person. It’s honestly something of a curiosity to me.

Let’s take a look at the definition, first. “the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad”

Think about that for a minute. Does right equal good? Does wrong equal bad? Who is it that decides these things, exactly?

For some, the answer is simple. They point to a deity of one sort or another, look at their sacred texts, and come back with an answer to what is right or wrong based on that. The problem with this, is that there are several to choose from, and while societies can form that support these ideals, those societies tend to be at odds. In general, within these societies, there are also conflicts within them about the interpretation of the sacred text and what it is the society itself should be doing, causing splinters within the society.

For others, they go with instinct. The problem I have with instinct is that instinct seems lot flipping a coin or rolling dice to decide on the outcome of a given situation. There’s no real thought put into it, you just go forth and do, and hope for the best. Some of these people do well, some do not. Instinct alone is all about survival, and while you may survive and even thrive on it, it makes you a bit random. The only thing that is apparent to me that those who follow instinct first and foremost can be depended upon for is to look out for their own interests first in any given situation. Whether this is good or bad is a question that I’m not convinced even applies.

So, morality is still an enigma, as far as how other people come to their decisions and whatnot. This is how my mental computer works, as far as I can understand.

1:Input: Something is Happening.

2:Choice: Is the input signifying something that must be decided on now? If yes, continue, if no, return to input.

3:Choice: Is the input enjoyable? If yes, continue. If no, continue to step 7

4:Choice: Is the input good? If yes, continue. If no, continue to step 7

5:Choice: Is the input right, wrong, or neutral? If right, continue, if wrong, continue to step 7 if neutral return to step 2

6:Return to Input and continue

7:Cease activity and return to Input.

*****************************************************

Pretty basic, right? The problem here is defining the variables “enjoyable”, “good”, “right”, “wrong, “bad”, and “neutral”.

Looking a little bit deeper at myself, I find that I have quick lists in my head. Like bookmarks. Each variable has a tab, and each seems to have a list of experienced activities and sensations attached.

The problem is this, though. I can’t figure out what subroutine in my head places things in the tabs as they are. I know that some were learned, whether by parents, society, school, or religion. Those things are all also marked as things told, not experienced.

I have another tab, though, marked experienced. This is another list of things, some of which are in the not experienced tab. These two tabs seem to be outside of my decision making process, though, as I look at my internal “program” above, I see no place where the use of either tab fits.

:internal examination:

On further examination, I find that somewhere along the way I placed in my “good” and “enjoyable” tabs the concept of increasing the number of things under my “experienced” tab. Further, this seems to be reinforced by something that affects the way I receive input. It’s sort of like this:

1: Input: Something is Happening. If input is not currently in experienced tab, check told tab for variable reference, but force continue once. If input is in neither tab, force continue once.

The problem here is that it suggests there is more to the program than I have seen so far. It appears that it actually goes more like this:

1: Input: Something is Happening. If input is not currently in experienced tab, check told tab for variable reference, but force continue once. If input is in neither tab, force continue once.

2:Choice: Is the input signifying something that must be decided on now? If yes, continue, if no, return to input.

3:Choice: Is the input enjoyable? If yes, continue. If no, continue to step 7 If no reference, go to enjoyable subroutine.

4:Choice: Is the input good? If yes, continue. If no, continue to step 7 If no reference, go to good subroutine.

5:Choice: Is the input right, wrong, or neutral? If right, continue, if wrong, continue to step 7 if neutral return to step 2 If no reference, go to right/wrong subroutine.

6:Return to Input and continue

7:Cease activity and return to Input.

************************************************

So-I have subroutines to examine.

*************************************************

Enjoyable subroutine

1: Input: Something is happening.

2: Choice: Does the enjoyable tab have anything similar to this, but different enough to be considered a unique experience? If no, continue. If yes, mark enjoyable and return to decision making process at step 3.

3: Choice: Does this cause me some kind of pain? If no, continue. If yes, mark as “painful” and continue.

4: Choice: Does this cause anyone else any kind of pain? If yes, cease activity and reboot system. If no, continue.

5: Choice: Does this give me pleasure? If yes, mark “pleasurable” and continue. If no, force check to decision making process at step 4.

6: Choice: Does this give anyone else pleasure? If yes, mark pleasurable. If no, force check to decision making process at step 4.

7: For each pleasure, add one point. For each painful, subtract one point.

8: If points is greater than zero, mark experience “enjoyable” and return to decision making process.

******************************************************

Good seems to be similar, but different. It includes a couple of extra steps.

1: Input: Something is happening.

2: Choice: Does the good tab have anything similar to this, but different enough to be considered a unique experience? If no, continue. If yes, mark good and continue.

3: Choice: Does this cause me some kind of pain? If no, continue. If yes, mark as “painful” and continue.

4: Choice: Does this cause anyone else any kind of pain? If yes, mark as painful and continue. If no, continue.

5: Choice: Does this give me pleasure? If yes, mark “pleasurable” and continue. If no, continue

6: Choice: Does this give anyone else pleasure? If yes, mark “pleasurable”. If no, continue.

7: For each pleasure, add one point. For each painful, subtract one point.

8: If points is greater than zero, mark experience “good”

9: If points is zero or less, but activity is marked “good”, then remove “good” marking and remove “good” marking from similar experiences.

10: Return to decision making process at step 5.

***********************************************

One more subroutine… Right, wrong, neutral.

Right/Wrong subroutine:

1: Input: Something is Happening

2: Choice: If input is not marked experienced, check learned tab and continue.

3: Choice: If input is marked learned and marked right within tab, mark right and continue, if not, continue.

4: Choice: If input is marked enjoyable, mark right and continue, if not mark wrong and continue.

5: Choice: If input is marked good, mark right and continue, if not mark wrong and continue.

6: For each right mark, score one point.

7: For each wrong mark, subtract one point.

8: If points is greater than 0, mark right and continue if not, cease activity and mark wrong.

9: Choice: Does this cause anyone harm? If yes, mark wrong and return to decision making process at step 3 for reevaluation.

10: Return to decision making process at step 6.

************************************************

Whew! That’s pretty involved.

Well, for me, the good news is that I can now examine these processes, and if I can examine them, I can tweak them. The bad news-this is just how I sort things out internally as to morality and decision making. It tells me nothing of what to expect from others, unless everyone works off of something similar.

So… how about you tell me? How similar is your own process? If it’s completely different, how is it different? Can you edit this process in ways that will make it more efficient, or line up more to the way society works?

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under For followers, Mental Health, People with interesting ideas, Philosophical Q&A, Social ideas, Things I like, Thoughts

9 responses to “Internal Computing of Morality(for me)-or why I hate my brain sometimes…

  1. Grace E

    Morality is hard. This is especially true with the changing of society’s ideas of tolerance and acceptance. As a Christian it’s hard to try and figure out the interpretations that should be used when reading the Bible. If God is all knowing and time doesn’t define Him, wouldn’t the moral lessons discussed in the Bible be correct if interpreted literally? …or since God is perfect, if we’re made a certain race or sexual orientation, then does that mean we should be accepting to all of that as well? Sometimes I wish God could come back to give us some footnotes in the Bible to help us understand the moral standpoint He wants us to have!

  2. Mark Laing

    Richard Dawkins writes about the evolution of altruism, morality, and religion in “the greatest show on earth” a good read! Though his strong views on religion might be abrasive for some.

    • I’ve heard that, but he’s just… pretty strongly “anti” theism for me. When I do modern philosophy, I prefer Stephen Law. While they share the same views, Stephen Law is less “in your face” from what I have seen. (Just my opinion based on a few readings). Thanks for the tip, and for commenting! 🙂

  3. I’m afraid I can’t help you. I believe in God, the Eternal Father. I believe that he gave us certain commandments and gifts. Among those gifts was the ability to tell the difference between good and evil. My moral code is based largely on that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s