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183. Evolution and the Moral Compass

A Glimpse into Tomasello's Research on Morality in Apes


Michael Tomasello, a renowned psychologist, has devoted nearly three decades of his life to studying morality in apes. His research, comparing the behavior and intelligence of chimpanzees to that of human children, indicates that the uniqueness of human morality stems from our extraordinary capacity for collaboration and cooperation—something other great apes lack. Tomasello's work thus lends credence to the moral compass theory, which posits that humans possess an innate sense of morality.


Cooperation and Collaboration: Foundations of the Moral Compass


The findings of Tomasello's research provide substantial support for the moral compass theory. Our unparalleled ability to collaborate and cooperate as a species has fueled the evolution of our moral sense. This collaborative nature propels us to act for the greater good and nurtures the growth and development of our moral compass.


The Moral Capacities of Non-Human Primates


Early 20th-century research on non-human primates, such as chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans, unveiled their aptitude for various abilities once believed to be exclusive to humans. These abilities include tool-making, compassion, interpreting intentions and goals of others, and forming friendships. This research further bolsters the moral compass theory, suggesting that an innate sense of morality exists not just in humans but in other animals too.


Morality: An Innate Aspect of the Living Experience


The research on non-human primates implies that the capacity for compassion, empathy, and other moral behaviors is not unique to humans. On the contrary, it is present across various species. This observation upholds the notion that morality is an intrinsic component of the human experience rather than a mere human construct. Furthermore, it supports the idea that the development of moral behavior is an essential aspect of the evolution and growth of all species, humans included. Such a perspective aligns seamlessly with the moral compass theory, which asserts that morality is the raison d'être of human existence, and that fostering a robust moral compass is vital to our evolution and development, both individually and as a species.


In conclusion, the ideas presented in this blog post draw heavily from William Search's books "Why" and "Conversations with ChatGPT: Exploring the Theory of Morality and Existence". These works delve into the moral compass theory, which emphasizes the significance of morality as the driving force behind human existence. Research on apes and other primates provides compelling support for this theory, as it highlights the evolutionary and growth-related aspects of moral development across species.








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