Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

Scientists have long held that crabs are unable to feel pain because they lack the biology to do so, but behavioral evidence has recently shown otherwise. Now, new research further supports the hypothesis that crabs feel pain by showing that crabs given a mild shock will take steps to avoid getting shocked in the future.

From humans to fruit flies, numerous species come equipped with nociception, a type of reflex that helps avoid immediate tissue damage. On the other hand, pain, which results in a swift change of behavior to avoid future damage, isn’t so widespread. 

Gone are the days when animals were pushed aside as species far beneath us in terms of abilities. They were often called brutes. In the 16th century, philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes said animals were just automata: red-blooded machines without thoughts or wishes. Since then, animal-behavior scientists have realized that our furry brethren have rich emotional lives and even a rudimentary sense of right and wrong.

From elaborate elephant funeral rituals to the moral outrage of cuckolded bluebirds, here are some surprising ways that animals exhibit the very human emotions we associate with morality.

Elephants have some of the most elaborate group rituals of any animals. When a beloved member of an elephant troop dies, those left behind will mourn the lost individual by “burying” the body with leaves and grass, and keeping vigil over the body for a week. And just as humans visit the gravesites of their lost loved ones, elephants visit the bones of dead elephants for years to come.

 Those seemingly filthy creatures scampering in the sludge of subway stations or trashcans, rats have empathy for each other. In a famous 1958 experiment, hungry rats that were only fed if they pulled a lever to shock their littermates refused to do so, suggesting that the rodents have a sense of empathy and compassion for their fellows. Another study published in 2006 in the journal Science found that mice would grimace when their compatriots were in pain — but only if they knew the mouse personally.

Humans aren’t the only ones who experience jealousy. When male bluebirds are out foraging to provide for their mate’s nest, female birds may step out with another male. Cuckolded males will beat their straying partners when they return, ripping out their feathers and snapping their beaks, according to a 1975 study detailed in the journal Science.

Dolphins routinely show love for species not their own. Several dolphins have practiced random acts of kindness by rescuing swimmers from hammerhead sharks. A few generous dolphins have even guided stranded whales back to sea. But the cetaceans save most of their goodwill for others in their pod — just like humans, they have a you-scratch-my-nose, I’ll-scratch-yours ethic that demands routine kindness and generosity.


While empathy and compassion may be common in animals, guilt may be a uniquely human emotion. A study published in the journal Behavioural Processes in 2009 found that dogs’ guilty looks don’t signal remorse.

In the study, they told owners that their dogs had eaten a forbidden treat while the owners left the room. The catch? Only some of the dogs had actually eaten the treat. But the dogs wore guilty looks regardless of whether they had devoured the treat, suggesting they were reading their owners’ anger and reacting accordingly, rather than feeling true remorse. Of course, it’s still possible that dogs feel guilty about some things, but probably not for gobbling up that cake sitting on the countertop.(ack:LiveScience.com)

















Read Full Post »


Is decalogue relevant in this time and age? In the ten part series Dekalog, Krzysztof Kieslowski examines the dilemma of fundamental sin in the lives of ordinary Warsaw citizens. Note the geographical microcosm where the episodes take place. Poland with its checkered history under oppressive regimes one after the other, has always been a staunch support for the Church be it of Catholic or Hebraic persuasion. The Ten Commandments refer to the relationship between man and God and sin being as clear as any disruption in the above equation. Dekalog has a strong storyline and characters well fleshed out and is often brilliant but uneven, which however should not deter us from considering the film as a masterpiece.  The episodes were meant for TV.

The first of Kieslowski’s 10-part series, Dekalog 1
“I Am the Lord God”,
Krzysztof (Henryk Baranowski) is a scientist who puts his faith in science and logic to govern daily life (Decalogue I). He brings up his young son Pawel (Wojciech Klata) in an apartment block flat. In the absence of a mother their home is dedicated to technology: on assorted computers they can plot out their lives, perform calculations and even, thanks to Pawel, control appliances around the apartment. He has long since lapsed as a Catholic. Pawel has a female role-model in his aunt Irena (Maja Komorowska. For a 11 year old Pawel life and its spiritual meaning is of no interest. Life is wonderful as long as he’s able to go skating.
His Christmas present is a new pair of ice skates and, as the ice looks thick, Pawel’s keen to try them out.  One evening the boy does not return home.
The loss of a child is always devastating but given the age and the potential of such a boy with so much in him to flower we can feel the waste and tragedy and it is in the generation of these emotions that Dekalog 1 succeeds. In such poignancy of futlity and despair how strong are analytical methods and reasons, or what we call a scientific temper?

Read Full Post »

Our thoughts have their otherworldly root. From about an absolute position I put forth ideas and as I said in an earlier post, they are finite paraphrasing of Infinite Idea.
Man an idea and God as Infinite.
Prayer makes man in direct line with Him.
In short we are children of God and experience this fact when we pray.
Our ideas have their origin elsewhere. These are like filaments and we give substance or weight and shape to thoughts because we live somewhere else and we have a body to speak of. Thought must be made a reality by action.
We struggle day to day for a place in the sun. If we do not have any idea what we want from life can we achieve anything worthwhile?
Tailspin: I am writing this post for those who pray to God or any other. By praying we are merely giving flesh and bones to our innermost longing to be one with the otherworldly aspects of our being. If we hold before us the idea of being His children we have become truly His and when we do pray we realize this mystery: as ideas are to Idea we have transcended beyond our physical forms.
Is this possible? In theory, yes. As I mentioned in the post After The Fall we carry the mixed baggage of collective memory of our species and our own memory. We are fallen because our  Innocence is merely a cover-up. Body Makes It so.

Read Full Post »