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No child ever learns what is right and wrong except

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Unformatted text preview: of proper and improper conduct, ideals and thoughts arise, it is not my function to treat in detail. That intelligence primarily uses the method of trial and error to learn is as true of groups as of individuals; and established methods of doing things--customs--are often enough temporary conclusions, though they last a thousand years. The feeling that such group customs are right and that to depart from them is wrong, is perhaps based on a specific instinct, the moral instinct; but much more likely, in my opinion, is it obedience to leadership, fear of social disapproval and punishment, conscience, imitation, suggestibility and sympathy, all of which are parts of that social cement substance, the social instinct. No child ever learns "what is right and wrong" except through teaching, but no child would ever conform, except through gross fear, unless he found himself urged by deep-seated instincts to be in conformity, in harmony and in sympathy with his group,--to be one with that group. Perhaps it is true, as Bergson suggests, as Galton[1] hints and as Samuel Butler boldly states, that there are no real individuals in life but we are merely different aspects of reality or, to phrase it materialistically, corpuscles in the blood stream of an organism too vast and complicated to be encompassed by our imagination. Just as a white blood cell obeys laws of which it can have no conception, fulfills purposes whose meaning transcends its own welfare, so we, with all our self-consciousness and all the paraphernalia of individuality, are perhaps parts of a life we cannot understand. [1] For example, read what the hard-headed Galton says ("Hereditary Genius," p. 376): "There is decidedly a solidarity as well as a separateness in all human and probably in all lives whatsoever, and this consideration goes far, I think, to establish an opinion that the constitution of the living universe is a pure theism and that its form of activity is what may he described as coope...
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