Do all humans have conscience?

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by nicesinging1, Dec 5, 2009.

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  1. nicesinging1

    nicesinging1 Well-Known Member

    Hello, everyone. I need you guys' insights on some of life's profound Qs that I have always wondered. I have been always fascinated by history and especially WWII history. While doing some extensive reading, researching and watching footages on WWII, I couldn't come to understanding of how much evil a human being is capable of against another.
    While reading about Nazi SS soldiers shooting innocent men, women, children and elderly, I couldn't stop but ask myself, "Where is the conscience? I would shoot myself in the head or be court-martialed than obeying the order of shooting innocent civilians. Where was the conscience? Were they trained to resist their conscience?"
    I always believed that all human beings are born with and possess innate conscience and it plays a pivotal role at most challenging and excruciating circumstances.
    Do you believe all human beings have conscience? Also, do you believe each human being's true identity and conscience will shine the brightest when faced with the most challenging and difficult situations in his/her life?
    Thanks in advance for any insights.
  2. pit

    pit Well-Known Member

    We all like to believe that we'll do the right thing until we're placed in that situation. Since most people are followers, this will surely happen again.
  3. Axiom

    Axiom Account Closed

    Erhm, hmm this is just my opinon. Evil is relative to the person and their compounded "understandings" and choices to lifes situations. Morality is a blanket term for a series of concepts and understandings that construct it. So, in itself, evil is based off of someones own definitions that are crossing the lines of their morality, or the web of concepts and understandings that encompass their morality. We can tweak it as much as we want. Somehow the majority of us seem to have the same basic building blocks of it that we accept and breath life through(if that makes sense to you). But some can change it, and choose to believe it, just as we at some point choose to believe a individual concept/understanding at one point in our life, which became part of our own morality code.

    Conscience is base off the definition of someones stance on right/wrong, which to me is very subjectivce to the persons lifestyle, their environment, the life that they live, and the live that they want.
    To me it's simple concepts, but like 1000's of them all tied together.

    For some sure. Alot of us, like me, don't live how we feel and believ we are. I flow in society and with others based off of them in a sense. Letting their decisions dominate the situation and thus producing outcomes based on their decisions, off of the man fact that I do not want to stand out and that they need to see the result of their choices. Also because Im just too tired to fight anymore. But when faced with an in your face deliema, people like me are given a choice, a choice to be ourselves or be a sheep. Donno if shine brightest is the best term, I suppose it works though. If shining brightest includes shit aswell as good.

    Society and people look at life alot differently when faced wit hthe reality of inpending death or loss. Funny isnt it.. I donno I kinda think it is when I actually bother to think about it.

    Thanks for the post btw, nice to think about such things every so often :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2009
  4. bluegrey

    bluegrey Antiquities Friend

    Genocides have been occurring since before recorded history but I cannot understand the phenomena either. In the case of the Nazis, the German people were successfully propagandized into believing that certain people like Jews, Slavs and homosexuals were beasts in human form and it was perfectly natural for the "superior race", Aryans, to eliminate them as you would eliminate mice in your pantry.

    With this rationalization, relatively mentally balanced German soldiers were capable of killing even in cruel ways. I too would have chosen court martial, desertion or suicide than performing institutionalized genocide.
  5. Reki

    Reki Well-Known Member

    I think when you believe what you're doing is right, you're capable of doing just about anything. The genocide in WWII, the inquisition, the witchhunts and so many other instances of human cruelty happened because people believed that what they were doing was the right thing. The soldiers that helped murder the jews still went home every night and took care of their families, provided for them and all the like. If you were holding the men responsible for 9/11 and were ordered to kill them, some people could do it and not lose a wink of sleep. Some people would call it murder, some people would call it justice. For most people, the murder of the jews was unjustified while the murder of the 9/11 terrorists would be easily justifiable, despite the fact that both cases are still murder.
  6. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    look into experiments like the stanford prison experiment, quite revealing about the human condition.

    Hopefully will answer your questions too
  7. GabrielConroy

    GabrielConroy Well-Known Member

    Sociopaths don't feel empathy so if being concerned with others is a necessary part of having a conscience then no

    Psychopaths are a whole new ballgame but many of them could be said not to have a conscience either

    So no not all people have a conscience
  8. shades

    shades Staff Alumni

    bhawk: very good point about the "Stanford" experiment...I think the psychological machinations are similar to what happened in WWII...the "pack mentality" takes over and overloads one's capacitiy for rational thought

    and Gabe is right about the Sociopaths and Psychopaths...the emotion center has been short-circuited...they have no conscience in my opinion.
  9. Scully

    Scully Well-Known Member

    I believe most of us have a conscience, out of some rare pathological cases. But lots of people are followers, and don't use their conscience or self-thinking, to blend in. Living all together in a group and fitting to some point and sharing is great, but it's all hypocrite and fake if individualities and differences aren't valued. And more it's dangerous.
  10. Brighid Moon

    Brighid Moon Member & Antiquities Friend

    Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths are not as rare as you would believe. Look into any thriving famous corporation, check Hollywood et al, and look to the government to find good examples.
  11. GabrielConroy

    GabrielConroy Well-Known Member

    checking the stats on psychopaths and sociopaths looks like about 1 in 20 don't have a conscience
  12. lonercarrot

    lonercarrot Well-Known Member

    I don't think bad people lack "a conscience"... Unless you're only using the word as a figure of speech. I don't think a conscience exists really... People just get molded and influenced by their surroundings. And that can often produce bad people.
  13. GabrielConroy

    GabrielConroy Well-Known Member

    Im defining conscience around empathy

    which is something you can have or not have
  14. lonercarrot

    lonercarrot Well-Known Member

    Well... I dunno. You can be empathetic towards a certain group of people while hating another. I don't think one person exists without a shred of empathy in them so I don't think empathy is something you can either have or not have. Especially if you're using empathy to define a conscience.
    Hitler was extremely empathetic towards Germany and its people... Would you say he had a good conscience?
  15. GabrielConroy

    GabrielConroy Well-Known Member

    Some people literaly completely lack the capacity for empathy its a psychological condition that can be clinically diagnosed

    those are people without a conscience

    its not a matter of what group its whether you can feel for others at all
  16. lonercarrot

    lonercarrot Well-Known Member

  17. me1

    me1 Well-Known Member

  18. fromthatshow

    fromthatshow Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    All human beings have a conscience. But I don't believe that it will shine through with some people. Everyone has it deep down... but in some people it is buried and there is nothing that can awaken it.

  19. GabrielConroy

    GabrielConroy Well-Known Member

    theyve actually done studies that pyschopaths tend to be attracted to leadership positions than normal people and some contend that this indicates there would be a higher percentage of psychopaths at the top of the business and political world than there is in the normal population

    when you look historically there definitely seems to be more leaders without any concern for others than I meet in my normal life (democracy also seems to contain them better than most systems)

    As for the deep down bit i dont think theres any evidence the guys who murder and cause pain for fun and power are deep down "good people" it seems more a fanciful notion thats propogated through popular media outlets (movies books etc) more than anything else

    the three traits that basically all pyschopathic killers usually have are:
    1. abused in childhood/miserable childhood
    2. received head trauma as a child/brain damage
    3. showed a decided lack of empathy from a very young age

    look at the btk killer and tell me "at heart hes a good man" and i wont be able to do anything but laugh
  20. Tobes

    Tobes Well-Known Member

    I think the btk killer is a bad example. As far as I know he was a relatively normal man with a family who had a penchant for killing and bragging about it. Sure he looks like a sinister bastard and probably has no remorse for what he did, but that doesn't mean he had no conscience. Murderers are wrong in the head, especially serial killers. Jeffrey Dahmer was the most depraved serial killer known to man, but when he was faced with the families of his victims he honestly felt bad for what he did, acknowledging that he was disturbed, and apologizing like all killers should. The question needs to be asked that if killers like these didn't have the knock to the head or the bad upbringing would they have turned out normal. If they would have, they would have a conscience and show empathy like any normal person would. Besides, no one knows what goes through the mind of a killer except a killer. I have read a few crime books and they say that most serial killers or mass murderers know what they are doing is wrong, but they feel like they have to do it anyway. They have a desire to kill like we have a desire to drink or work or sleep.

    I think that everyone has a conscience, but for those that have had a wrong upbringing, like a sociopath or psychopath, it is very weak. I don't see how they could diagnose something like that and know that they're right either, I'd love to know what tests they do to diagnose it. A conscience is one of the most fundamental traits that a human can possess, and I doubt that people could live their lives without one. I know that empathy is selective, maybe conscience is too. I'm sure the btk killer would have felt bad if he didn't feed his children, or if he abused his wife, or if he yelled at his mother for something trivial. People aren't flat out bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2009
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