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A Fruitful Encounter
Did the Christian doctrine of original sin create the guilt cultures of Northwest Europe? Or did the arrow of causality run the other way?
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By definition, gene-culture co-evolution is reciprocal. Genes and culture are both in the driver’s seat. This point is crucial because there is a tendency to overreact to cultural determinism and to forget that culture does matter, even to the point of influencing the makeup of our gene pool. Through culture, humans have directed their own evolution.

Take the ability to digest lactose, commonly called milk sugar. Among early humans, only babies could digest it because only they made the enzyme that breaks it down. This enzyme was lost as one grew up, with the result that milk consumption would cause indigestion, abdominal gas, and diarrhea. This is still the case in humans from much of Africa and Asia.

Then some cultures began to domesticate cattle, initially for meat. In times of famine, they turned to milk, and those who could better tolerate it had better chances of survival. So there was now natural selection for individuals who could produce the necessary enzyme not only in childhood but in adulthood as well.

The resulting evolutionary change was both genetic and cultural. With more and more adults being able to digest milk, it became possible to develop various dairy products, like cheese, and use milk as an ingredient in a wide range of foods. It also became possible to select for cattle that produce more and better milk (Beja-Pereira et al., 2003). A new way of life developed and thus brought about even more selection for this enzyme.

In sum, a genetic change can open up new paths for culture to follow and thereby create new paths for genes to follow. But that isn’t all. The same situation can develop even when no genetic change has taken place, at least not initially. We see this, for instance, when a culture spreads out of one population and into another. The gene-culture interaction is new even though neither party to the interaction is new.

A fruitful encounter

One specific example is the encounter between Christianity and the guilt cultures of Northwest Europe, which differ from the shame cultures that prevail elsewhere. The difference is a major one. In a shame culture, your wrongdoings are punished only when witnessed by someone from your community. In a guilt culture, they are punished even when there is no witness, other than the one inside your head.

Guilt culture is commonly attributed to the Christian doctrine of original sin, and more specifically to the radicalization of this doctrine under Protestantism (see Note 1). Yet neither of these presumed causes really lines up with the presumed effect.

For one thing, it’s doubtful whether this doctrine was even known to early Christians in the Middle East. True, Paul did write that humans had lost their immortality because of Adam’s sin:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.Romans 5.12

This belief also appears in the Talmud, but it was never understood there as meaning that people are sinful because they inherit Adam’s burden of sin. The Jewish view, like the later Muslim one, has been that people are sinful because they are imperfect beings. This was probably also the view of early Christians. Even today, Eastern Christians reject the doctrine of original sin, preferring the term “ancestral sin”:

In the Orthodox Christian understanding, they explicitly deny that humanity inherited guilt from anyone. Rather, they maintain that we inherit our fallen nature. While humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. (Original sin, 2014)

It was among Western Christians—Roman Catholics and, later, Protestants—that original sin developed into a doctrine. We see this in the writings of Irenaeus (2nd century) and Augustine (354-430), who identified the original sin as concupiscence, i.e., ardent, sensual longing. Protestantism is then said to have radicalized this doctrine, as seen in the Augsburg Confession of Lutheranism:

It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

But this radicalization was already under way before Protestantism. An English Catholic, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), was the one who first separated original sin from concupiscence and defined it as “privation of the righteousness that every man ought to possess” (Original sin, 2014). Within Western Christendom, pre-Protestant England was likewise the epicenter of an intense penitential tradition that dated back at least to Anglo-Saxon times (Frantzen 1983). This tradition can be summed up as follows: “it is better to be shamed for one’s sins before one man (the confessor) in this life than to be shamed before God and before all angels and before all men and before all devils at the Last Judgement” (Godden, 1973). The English abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (955-1010) described the need to do penance for all shameful acts, even those that are witnessed solely by spirits of the dead:

He who cannot because of shame confess his faults to one man, then it must shame him before the heaven-dwellers and the earth-dwellers and the hell-dwellers, and the shame for him will be endless.(Bedingfield, 2002, p. 80)

Conclusion

As evidenced by the doctrine of original sin and the penitential tradition, Northwest European guilt culture was not a product of Christianity in general or of Protestantism in particular. It seems to have its origins in pre-existing tendencies that were absorbed into the new spiritual environment, much like the Christmas tree and other formerly pagan traditions. It thus grew steadily more important as the geocenter of Christianity moved steadily west and north.

This is not to belittle Christianity’s role. The new faith created ideological, social, and physical structures that were better at enforcing moral norms than anything beforehand. These norms may have had pagan antecedents, but they were now being enforced much more thoroughly.

We see this in the Medieval Synthesis that took hold from the 11th century onward, when Church and State joined forces to defend the Christian world: externally, through military campaigns against Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula, southern Italy, and the Middle East; and internally, through vigorous efforts to pacify social relations, either by increased use of capital punishment or by the Pax Dei—a Church-led movement to limit the scope of war in feudal society (Peace and Truce of God, 2014). Finally, guilt culture was strengthened through confession of one’s sins, particularly after this practice became mandatory with the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). All wrongdoings had to be atoned at least once a year, however private or personal they might be (Sacrament of Penance, 2014).

Medieval Christian culture favored the survival and reproduction of people who previously would not have survived and reproduced. Conversely, by criminalizing personal violence, particularly in cases where the offender felt no guilt or remorse, this culture was now eliminating people for behavior that had once been admired.

It is often believed that Europe took off from the 15th century onward, when it expanded into Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Actually, the takeoff began earlier, particularly during this period when Church and State teamed up to lay a new basis for social relations. It was this new moral order that enabled Europe to get ahead (Frost, 2012). As Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) wrote, no advanced society can develop where men have no “other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal.”

In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. [The Leviathan, 13]

Note

Missionaries, for example, point to the relationship between Christianity and guilt culture:

There is a lack of a sense of sin in African thinking for many reasons: (1) there is a belief that God and the ancestors are unconcerned about private and public morality. People believe more in this life than the next life; (2) there is more of a shame-culture than a guilt-culture. People are more afraid of public opinion than of God; and (3) there is a focus on communal living where people look at who caused a problem. (Tittley, 2001)

See also Lebra (1971) and Carroll (1981).

References

Bedingfield, M.D. (2002). The Dramatic Liturgy of Anglo-Saxon England, The Boydell Press.

Beja-Pereira A., G. Luikart, P.R. England, et al. (2003). Gene-culture coevolution between cattle milk protein genes and human lactase genes, Nature Genetics, 35, 311-313.
http://www.bioquest.org/summer2007/sessionA/ng1263.pdf

Carroll, J. (1981). The role of guilt in the formation of modern society: England 1350-1800, The British Journal of Sociology, 32, 459-503.
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/590129?uid=3739448&uid=2&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=21104745207513

Frost, P. (2012). On global inequality, Evo and Proud, August 25
/pfrost/on-global-inequality/

Frantzen, A.J. (1983). The literature of penance in Anglo-Saxon England, New Brunswick (N.J.): Rutgers University Press.

Godden, M.R. (1973). An Old English penitential motif , Anglo-Saxon England, 2, 221-239.

Hobbes, T. (2010). The Leviathan. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Lebra, T.S. (1971). The social mechanism of guilt and shame: the Japanese case, Anthropological Quarterly, 44, 241-255.
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3316971?uid=3739448&uid=2&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=21104745207513

Original Sin. (2014). Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_sin

Peace and Truce of God. (2014). Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God

Sacrament of Penance. (2014). Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrament_of_Penance_(Catholic_Church)

Tittley, M. (2001). Book summary of The Primal Vision: Christian Presence amid African Religion, by John V. Taylor, SCM Press, 1963.
http://www.ymresourcer.com/Summaries.php

(Republished from Evo and Proud by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Kamran says:

    How fast can we get rid of these guilt cultures and replace them with white pride cultures? The white race should not be guilty of being the greatest race for all history of mankind.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Christianity was the first jewish conspiracy but backfired on them so they came up with Islam for the Arabs and destroyed the Persian Empire and kicked the Greeks out the Levant and North Africa, they even destroyed the Visigoths in Spain.

  3. Georg says:

    “”With more and more adults being able to digest milk, it became possible to develop various dairy products, like cheese, and use milk as an ingredient in a wide range of foods.””

    Nonsense!
    A lot of central Asian nomadic people eat diary products, but not milk. Guess why.
    Most cheese and butter-like products do not contain lactose, or at least
    very few.
    All those people buying ” lactose free cheese” (including You?) are a bit silly.
    Read about cheese making and the fate of lactose therein.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  4. Bill P says:

    If one looks to the early Germanic sagas for some evidence, it doesn’t appear as though guilt was a strong feature of pre-Christian NW Europe. Shame, on the other hand, was paramount. The last vestiges of shame based society in Anglo tradition come directly from this culture. Public trial by peers, for example, and dueling.

    So it’s doubtful that guilt was all that well-developed — at least in Germanic cultures. Perhaps it’s a British invention, and was carried into the continent by Anglo Saxon missionaries, who did the most important work converting the German heathen in the Dark Ages.

    When one takes shame to the absurd lengths some pre-Christian Irish did (e.g. fasting on someone’s doorstep), it may be that it is then seen as noticed by the gods themselves. Don’t the fairies allegedly see all sorts of things and take notice when slighted?

    In any event, modern man has only a very crude concept of what faith meant to pre-Christian peoples. For example, the Jesuits in early Quebec put a great deal of effort into trying to understand the Iroquois religion and whether it had a concept of good and evil and God. By our standards, it doesn’t appear that it did, but the Iroquois clearly thought that there was a right and wrong way to do important things, and that’s what religion is really concerned with. Whether or not the manitou (a kind of Indian fairy/spirit) passed judgment on the actions of mankind isn’t established, but it seems to me that the sense of being under the watchful eye of local spirits would be the origin of guilt.

    So, going out on a limb here, maybe the native paranoia about spirits that characterized the pre-Christian Isles combined with the new religion AND a powerful shame culture to produce a particularly potent guilt society. If God is everywhere and sees everything (not much of a stretch for a people who believed there’s a fairy behind every tree), and is all powerful and always right, then you should always be deeply ashamed of yourself if only in comparison. It’s a potent formula. I’m not even sure whether the concept of original sin is necessary for it to work, and as you suggest it may simply have been a convenient explanation for this phenomenon.

    East Asian cultures get around this by making God (who remains largely undefined) more or less uninterested in the lives of ordinary mortals, who have to deal mainly with subordinate spirits with limited spheres of influence. But there’s another aspect of Chinese culture in particular that undermines guilt: the idea that the ideal and temporal world are parallel, and one dwells in both at the same time. What you do in the temporal world may not always be good, but that is just the nature of that world. In the other world, it didn’t really happen.

  5. KA says:

    “—-2) there is more of a shame-culture than a guilt-culture. People are more afraid of public opinion than of God; and (3) there is a focus on communal living where people look at who caused a problem. (Tittley, 2001)

    Tittley missed the whole American lay of land of the psychological activities among the pastor,leaders,scholars . There is no guilt in lying,in sleeping with daughter’s husband,or stashing money here and there from the faithful flock’s tithe ,from plagiarizing, from abusing government offices and mousing of authorities . Only shame if prosecuted and fear of being prosecuted.

    Why go looking for monsters to slay . They are within you .

  6. KA says:

    “Missionaries, for example, point to the relationship between Christianity and guilt culture:”

    Yes. Missionaries would feel enormous anger and guilt in punishing the pagan for refusal to listen to their ideologies .
    They still do . It has become sanitized and secularized.

    Christian Europe felt guilt from holocaust and felt morally driven to do something for them- so the story goes. What does the gypsy or Roma in think ? They don’t evoke guilt .

    The erstwhile enemy has to be powerful to provoke guilt . It has to have the ability to make the European internalize the shame,fear,impotence,and possibility of retribution into a collective emotional response to set things right,pay reparations,support them unquestioned and carry a permanent sorrowful doleful eyes of dejection.

    Without that you are Native Americans or Gypsie or Vietnamese yellow child .

  7. @Georg

    Mr. Georg, ordinarily I do not bother to point out deficiencies in the reasoning processes employed by commenters, but this one is egregious beyond the pale.

    Think: Before you have cheese, you have milk. For milk production to develop as a food-source, some significant percentage of the human-culture population must have the ability to digest lactose.

    First milk, then butter, then cheese. First comes the ability to digest lactose (milk). Get it? After that point is reached, it becomes irrelevant that butter and cheese don’t require some degree of lactose tolerance.

    • Replies: @marylou
  8. No offense to Mr. Frost, who is the only blogger here I read regularly besides Fred Reed, but I don’t buy into the gene-culture theory, as it lacks parsimony, in taking several side trips to reach a general conclusion to which there is already a plainly-evident (and supported) path.

    Maybe, maybe, maybe there exists a gene-complex that exhibits behavior considered “altruistic”, “empathic”, “socially adaptive”, “sympathetic”, “cooperative” — your choice of terminology — but, every one of those factors can be attributed directly and simple to the containing culture per se. A tortured process of divergent selection for “guilt” versus “shame” is not required.

    But, I’m open-minded. Identify this gene-complex, edit it out, and show me the absolute lack of empathic/sympathetic/social conscience behavior in the individuals produced. Meanwhile, there is no good reason to believe that guilt behavior has a genetic twist away from shame behavior.

    • Replies: @DavidInSydney
  9. syonredux says:

    A few quibbles/comments:

    An English Catholic, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109),

    Anselm was not English in terms of ancestry or birth:

    Anselm was born in Aosta in the Kingdom of Arles around 1033.[1] His family was related by blood to the ascendant House of Savoy[2] and owned considerable property. His parents were from a noble lineage. His father, Gundulf, was by birth a Lombard. His mother, Ermenberga, was regarded as prudent and virtuous; she was related to Otto, Count of Savoy.

    WIKIPEDIA

    It was among Western Christians—Roman Catholics and, later, Protestants—that original sin developed into a doctrine. We see this in the writings of Irenaeus (2nd century) and Augustine (354-430), who identified the original sin as concupiscence, i.e., ardent, sensual longing.

    Interestingly, neither man was of Northwestern European stock:

    Irenaeus was born during the first half of the 2nd century (the exact date is disputed: between the years 115 and 125 according to some, or 130 and 142 according to others), and he is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp’s hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now İzmir, Turkey.[9] Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was brought up in a Christian family rather than converting as an adult.

    Augustine was born in 354 in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa.[16][17] His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian; his father Patricius was a Pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed.[18] Scholars believe that Augustine’s ancestors included Berbers, Latins, and Phoenicians.[19] He considered himself to be Punic.[20] Augustine’s family name, Aurelius, suggests that his father’s ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212. Augustine’s family had been Roman, from a legal standpoint, for at least a century when he was born.[21] It is assumed that his mother, Monica, was of Berber origin, on the basis of her name,

    WIKIPEDIA

  10. Ed says:

    The discussion of “guilt-based” conceptions of why you want to avoid doing anti-social things, as opposed to “shame-based” conceptions is interesting, as is the inference that this was a strange way of looking at the world that northern Europeans had. I’m not sure why this would spread into the Mediterranean instead of the other way around, or be particularly strong in the United States, which is basically Anglo-Germanic in culture but half the population has ancestry mainly from non-Northern European cultures.

    Personally, I was very much “guilt based” in how I approached my own errors when young, but have definitely become more “shame based” as I got older. But I thought this was because I’ve been getting more cynical. I’ve figured out the way that people want you to behave doesn’t have much to do with ethics, and in many instances behaving ethically can bring in hostile public opinion. Getting away with things is valued more than not doing them in the first place. But American civilization has been in decline through my whole lifetime. Maybe the “guilt based” thing is more of a feature of high trust societies and not really culturally or genetically linked.

  11. Rehmat says:

    The doctrine of the so-called “First Sin” comes from the Jewish Bible (OT). The writers of the Christian Bible (NT) sprinklered their creation with four books of OT to make it “Divine Message”. Women folks have been mistreated in the Judeo-Christian world for centuries. The so-called “champion” of the democracy, the United States has not elected a female president or vice-president in its entire 300 year existence. In Canada, women got rights to vote and property ownership in 1938. These rights were given to women in Islam over 1400 years ago. In in the modern history, several Muslim-majority nations have elected women as presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, etc.

    http://rehmat1.com/2009/06/28/iran-and-the-womens-rights-expert/

    • Replies: @TWS
  12. @Peter Frost: Have you written or are you planning to write a book? I’d be interested.

  13. rod1963 says:

    “Medieval Christian culture favored the survival and reproduction of people who previously would not have survived and reproduced. Conversely, by criminalizing personal violence, particularly in cases where the offender felt no guilt or remorse, this culture was now eliminating people for behavior that had once been admired.”

    Oh because they had orphanages and hospitals that helped the young and infirm. Oh my, how horrible. Only a sheltered academic could think of such things.

    Predatory personal violence was never admired in a civilized state. Even pagan Rome persecuted these sorts. This wasn’t a Christian thing, it’s a civilized thing. You cannot tolerate violent predators in society. Even in societies or rural areas where a police force isn’t available the locals eventually dispatch such monsters.

  14. IA says:

    Captain Cook, on his second voyage, brought back a south sea chief named Omai. One of his sponsors, the Earl of Sandwich, adopted Omai, who was then introduced to fashionable London society and even royals. Here we have the genesis of modern status marking, i.e., shame/guilt. By late 18th century european men had utterly conquered all other races. In order to differentiate themselves beyond the now superfluous battlefield elites were required to devise a new status system. To mark status they began to turn the former racial enemy into a kind of harmless pet.

    Simultaneously, the idea of the noble savage was also developed, eagerly taken up by aristos. That (european) civilization corrupts rather than raises up is still very much with us.

    These are gnostic views more closely aligned with Pelagian heresy and the promethean rise of intellectuals such as Hegel than Christian humility.

    So, the new global culture replacing organic, pagan-euro Christianity must constantly reinforce the shaming of racists, sexists, haters, bigots, etc. In other words, by careful avoidance of hate-thoughts one can avoid those perplexing guilty feelings.

  15. Sean says:

    William of Ockham believed ‘The ways of God are not open to reason’, which amounts to non rational obedience. Assuming virtuous behaviour is rewarded here on earth, there is no need for a reward in the hereafter. Socrates and Aristotle said that we always do what we think is for the best. Natural law rewards virtuous behavior with happiness according to Aristotle, who Luther called “that buffoon”.

    When and where there is no reward for virtuous behaviour, there is still good reason for obeying God (ie doing what you don’t want to do, but feel you ought to) in order to secure your reward in the afterlife. That is why Henry Sidgwick was so interested in an afterlife. But if you have doubts about the afterlife it is difficult to justify doing what you feel you ought to do instead of doing what you desire and what it is in your personal interests to do.

    Western ethics have tried to find good reasons for the feeling we ought to do our duty, even if it goes against our desires and interests. Now we know where that feeling came from.

  16. jtgw says:

    So the introduction of guilt into the doctrine of ancestral sin by a 2nd century Gallic and 4th century North African bishop is the evidence that guilt was ingrained in northwestern Christianity from the beginning? Oh dear. I guess it’s an accident that southwestern Europeans today are known for their shame culture?

    Examples of Anglo-Saxon penitentials a) only show evidence of Anglo-Saxon attitudes to sin, and don’t offer any information about their understanding of original sin and b) you can find plenty of Eastern Orthodox penitentials with similarly severe (look up the canons of St John the Faster, which have been used in Orthodox confessionals for about a thousand years). I can also tell you most definitely that Orthodoxy has a tradition of confession, which includes teaching the need to feel remorse for one’s sins. It’s not peripheral, but central to all the penitential and ascetic literature of the East. Where it differs from Western penitential traditions, at least later Western ones, is that the emphasis is not exclusively on guilt and confession, but more generally on ascesis and purification from passions, but this is a far cry from claiming that Orthodoxy has no concept of guilt.

    Also, the logic here seems to be: northwest European Christians are more guilt-based than Christians elsewhere, ergo they must have inherited a predisposition to guilt from their pagan ancestors. Uh, aren’t there some other possibilities we haven’t entertained? Maybe they developed a predilection for guilt after they became Christian. To dismiss this hypothesis, you need evidence of pre-Christian Germanic or Celtic guilt-culture, and from my knowledge of them, they were just as shame-driven as the rest of humanity. So sorry, this hypothesis is not supported by the evidence you have brought to bear. It looks like if any culture is guilt-driven, it’s due to Christianity.

    Oh, one more thing, the question I’m sure everyone’s dying to ask: if the Talmud doesn’t teach original sin, where does Jewish guilt come from?

  17. @jtgw

    Failure to uphold God’s law. Is this a serious question? It sure was posed in the style of a 15 year old know it all.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  18. Doesn’t the main rupture point for Lutheran Protantism occur at a a point beyond guilt and shame namely indulgences. Grace could theoretically apply equally to shame or a guilt based morality.

  19. Stogumber says:

    I still think that you are mixing up two different distinctions:
    a) the distinction between social punishment and social despise
    b) the distinction between (originally) external factors and their internalization.
    Internal punishment = guilt. But despise can be internalized the same way.

    The connexion with the doctrine of “original sin” seems rather superfluous.

    But it’s plausible that the penitential tradition helped to internalize guilt. Protestantism radicalized it only insofar as guilt became not so much a matter of concrete deeds but a matter of the person as a whole – making absolution more vague or even improbable.

    I understand the idea that capital punishment worked as a kind of genetical selection. I don’t see how the penitential tradition might have made an impact on genetics.

  20. jtgw says:
    @Sam Haysom

    My point was that Peter Frost is making a very simplistic association between two things: having a doctrine of inherited guilt (original sin) and a guilt culture. And yet by his own admission, the Talmud, the foundational text of rabbinical Judaism, doesn’t teach original sin, so the well-known phenomenon of Jewish guilt is unexplained. If the Jews can have a guilt culture without original sin, then original sin doesn’t explain why Western Christians have a guilt culture (which isn’t even true for half of Western Christianity, i.e. those from Latin cultures, but we’ll leave that to the side).

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  21. jtgw says:

    If the Protestants have the most guilty cultures, why do they have the least guilty theologies? Unlike Catholicism or Orthodoxy, which teach that you must confess your sins regularly, Protestants are divided into Lutherans who teach that only faith, not good works, are needed for salvation, and Calvinists who deny free will and teach that nothing you do can change your predestined place in either heaven or hell.

    We’re not going to find the answers in the theological systems.

    A map of Europe and where anthropologists deem the border between shame and guilt cultures to lie might be useful. E.g. I’m under the impression that most Western Catholic cultures are in fact shame-cultures, i.e. the Spanish, French and Italians. Is that correct or no?

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
  22. @jtgw

    That’s my bad and I offer a sincere mea culpa. I skimmed the article and missed the paragraph were he makes that explicit argument. You are absolutely right your rhetorical question demolishes his argument by its own terms.

  23. @jtgw

    France viewed through the prism of shame vs. guilt is pretty complicated because the more “guilt” oriented Janenist Catholicism wasn’t defeated by the forces of a more shame-based Catholicism, but by the Jesuits and their emphasis on causitry which basically aims to evade both shame and guilt with convoluted reasoning.

  24. Gene says:

    Original sin – what bunk – what a waist of time. We do unsavory things in order to survive – a tribal member pecks his way to the top. That is our primordial nature. A pecking order is not a cooperative arrangement – it is a me-first way of living where position is more important then productivity. Successful pecking involves a specific set of mental genes.

    Christian culture is different – it is a cooperative philosophy that says we can work together – this system requires a different set of mental genes to be activated.

    Clearly the voluntary cooperation of volitional individuals is a more productive arrangement then is tribal antagonistic pecking.

    Christianity has self selected cooperative peoples.

  25. Sean says:

    HEIDEGGER is crystal clear: like Cordelia in King Lear, nothing is said. The call of conscience is silent. It contains no instructions or advice. In order to understand this, it is important to grasp that, for Heidegger, inauthentic life is characterised by chatter – for example, the ever-ambiguous hubbub of the blogosphere. Conscience calls Dasein back from this chatter silently. It has the character of what Heidegger calls “reticence” (Verschwiegenheit), which is the privileged mode of language in Heidegger. So, the call of conscience is a silent call that silences the chatter of the world and brings me back to myself. But what does this uncanny call of conscience give one to understand? Conscience’s call can be reduced to one word: Guilty!”

    The theologian Rudolph Bultmann said Heidegger was the Luther expert, and said Heidegger ‘knew Luther’s works better than many a professional theologian’ (see here).

    If NW Europe has a guilt culture and ‘guilt is effective with or without a witness’ then Germans should be building great cars! And be incredibly efficient in their environmentalism.

  26. Bliss says:

    As evidenced by the doctrine of original sin and the penitential tradition, Northwest European guilt culture was not a product of Christianity in general or of Protestantism in particular. It seems to have its origins in pre-existing tendencies that were absorbed into the new spiritual environment

    1. The doctrine of original sin is not of northwestern european origin.

    2. Penitence is not uniquely northwestern european.

    3. You haven’t provided any evidence of guilt culture in pagan barbarian northwestern europe.

    4. Christian dogma teaches that only the blood sacrifice of Jesus can atone for sin, including original sin. So where is the need for guilt or penitence if you are a baptized christian?

    It is more likely that the guilt culture of confession and penitence was an innovation designed to use the ubiquitous church to make the barbarians behave.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  27. Peter Frost says: • Website

    Bill,

    Guilt began as an adjunct to shame, and traditional Northwest European societies originally relied on both shame and guilt to control behavior. I’m arguing that this second system of behavior control (guilt + empathy) later made it possible to move beyond kinship and create societies organized along other lines (i.e., ideology, the State, the market economy).

    We have very limited information about these societies in their original pre-Christian state. There’s the treatise “Germania” and there are a number of early medieval texts that were written at a time when Christianization was already well advanced. Take “The Song of Beowulf”. Is it a useful source about the pagan Anglo-Saxons? Some say yes, some say no.

    Did Northwest Europeans feel intense guilt in pre-Christian times? If Beowulf is a credible source, it would seem that they did. The hero felt consumed by “dark thoughts” that were not caused by a witnessed wrongdoing:

    “That was sorrow to the good man’s soul, greatest of griefs to the heart. The wise man thought that, breaking established law, he had bitterly angered God, the Lord everlasting. His breast was troubled within by dark thoughts, as was not his wont.” The Song of Beowulf, 90

    “But, I’m open-minded. Identify this gene-complex, edit it out, and show me the absolute lack of empathic/sympathetic/social conscience behavior in the individuals produced.”

    John Jeremiah Smith,

    Such individuals are called “psychopaths.” They have intact cognitive empathy (hence being able to deceive others), but impaired affective empathy (hence being able to hurt others).

    Affective empathy seems to function like a specific mental system. We have not identified the specific genes, but it does have high heritability, about 68%. There is also ongoing research that has identified specific structures within the brain that activate when people know that another person is in distress.

    Syon,

    I was expecting someone to make that criticism. It doesn’t matter the degree to which Augustine was Punic or Roman by ancestry. He lived within a larger culture system that was dominated by Western Christianity, and his views were influenced by the preoccupations of that cultural system. He was a witness to the early stages of an ideological evolution, and as the geocenter of Western Christianity moved further north, guilt assumed a larger role in that evolution.

    Ed,

    Northwest Europeans may represent only half the American population (probably less by now), but they set the tone and pace of American culture and forced everyone else to comply. Today, that is less and less so. I predict that the U.S. will assume all of the characteristics of a “shame culture,” i.e., there’s no longer any Santa Claus who’s knows when you’ve been bad or good. Everything is moral as long as no one catches you.

    Reiner,

    I did write a book, first in English and then in French. Unfortunately, only the French version is now available:

    Femmes claires, hommes foncés. Les racines oubliées du colorisme, Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 202 p..

    https://www.pulaval.com/produit/femmes-claires-hommes-fonces-les-racines-oubliees-du-colorisme

    Will I write another book? Perhaps. I don’t have a literary agent, and it’s difficult to publish in the English-speaking world without one.

    “Oh because they had orphanages and hospitals that helped the young and infirm. Oh my, how horrible.”

    Rod,

    Uh, no, that wasn’t what I had in mind. (You think I’m some sort of anti-Christian nihilist?).
    In any case, orphanages had very high mortality rates and did little to save unwanted children from early death. Hospitals likewise did little to stave off death. Until the 1930s, doctors killed more people than they saved.

    But Christianity did a lot in terms of creating new norms for behavior and punishing those who failed to adhere to those norms.

    Jonathan,

    I’m not arguing that Orthodox Christians have no conception of guilt (or Jews and Muslims for that matter). I’m saying that guilt occupies less space in their mental universe. It’s a question of degree.

    Stogumber,

    There has been an evolution from cognitive empathy to affective empathy (in which empathic guilt plays a large role). Instead of merely simulating how other people feel (often to manipulate them better), people have – to varying degrees – acquired the capacity to feed that mental simulation into their own emotional output. The other person’s pain becomes one’s own pain.

    I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  28. Bliss says:

    Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness…..No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small?

    If christian dogma makes sense to you, then so should the above quote from Martin Luther, northern european reformist. He cuts through the doublespeak of the catholic church.

    Where is the burden of guilt, where is the need for penitence if you are already saved from eternal hell by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus?

  29. @Peter Frost

    Your book seems to be available in English just fine. I just ordered it from the British Amazon (also available there), although there was a warning that I needed to be quick because “only 2 left in stock”, but we needn’t worry too much, since there was “more on the way”.

  30. @jtgw

    Oh, one more thing, the question I’m sure everyone’s dying to ask: if the Talmud doesn’t teach original sin, where does Jewish guilt come from?

    If there is Justice to be found anywhere in an all-encompassing Universe, Jewish guilt must come from God. But, let’s get real … there is no such thing as “Jewish guilt”, there is only a demonstrated facade.

    • Replies: @Conatus
  31. @Bliss

    It is more likely that the guilt culture of confession and penitence was an innovation designed to use the ubiquitous church to make the barbarians behave.

    Da.

    In addition to your comment #3 (“You haven’t provided any evidence of guilt culture in pagan barbarian northwestern europe.”), the existence of “guilt cultures” outside of Europe hasn’t been explored. There is Micronesia and Japan, where one would have to make a very, very specific distinction between “guilt” and “shame” that might not be truly applicable. If you have “guilt” cultures developing post-selection of some as-yet-to-be-identified gene complex, then the “genetic” or “natural selection” theory is eminently discardable — particularly if “guilt” shows up in a non-European genetic line.

    “Culture” remains the best, the most complete, and the most parsimonious explanation.

  32. Sean says:

    In pagan Germany, and to some extent in Anglo Saxon England, killing a man was only considered murder if it was the secret killing of an unknown person. Guilt must have done the heavy lifting.

    After medieval Christianity came a number of philosophers to whom guilt was central “PERHAPS the most central theme in Soren Kierkegaard’s religious thought is the doctrine of original sin: the idea that we share in some essential human guilt simply by being born. But guilt is an important concept also in Kierkegaard’s secular writings. He thought that the modern era was defined by its concept of guilt.”

    Subsequent non Christian philosophers like Heidegger were still talking about guilt, as was Sartre with his “bad faith”. Levinas, with the individual “summoned” by an ethical duty to “the Other,” is the latest. Why do these ideas strike a chord with Europeans ?

    Nietzsche: “God is dead, that the belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable”. Our moral notions are not based on anything, they are like the taboos of Polynesia which King Kamehameha II simply abolished.

    As Alasdair MacIntyre asked: “Why should we think of our modern uses of good, right and obligatory in any different way from that from that in which we think about late eighteenth century uses of taboo . And why should we not think of Nietzsche as the Kamehameha II of the European tradition.”

    Europeans’ feeling of guilt has a genetic basis, that is why the European moral order is not altering with the disappearance of its Christian cultural underpinning.

    • Replies: @Bruce
  33. Bill P says:

    @Peter

    I also suspect that there’s a tendency toward what we’re referring to as guilt in NW Europeans that goes deeper than Christian ideology. But that’s a hunch without any solid evidence, so I think it’s important to define what exactly differentiates guilt from shame so as to identify what’s unique about this culture.

    Is guilt different from shame only in that witnesses other than humans (such as God or spirits) are also considered important? If so, then isn’t it fundamentally the same thing?

    If guilt is a heightened ability to be ashamed of oneself over one’s moral failures, is it then something akin to the weakling who wishes he were strong and is frustrated by his shortcoming? Again, how is that qualitatively different from ordinary shame?

    Or, could it be that guilt is just enhanced anxiety and/or fearfulness? Those of a more neurotic, introspective nature may simply be more inclined to dwell on things than others. Those who are by nature fearless and lacking in anxiety seldom seem to display much regret.

    You suggest that guilt + empathy is what made the difference in NW Europe, but maybe guilt isn’t as important as we think.

    This is the problem here, as I see it: when you speak of guilt, it’s easy to find other examples of people all over the world who could fit the definition of shame without witnesses. In some cultures, breaking a taboo could lead to suicide, which is the ultimate in self-punishment.

    However, there may be a more highly developed sense of empathy in some populations, and this is at least as important as guilt in determining social outcomes (or else guilt means shame caused by empathy).

    So maybe what we are looking at in NW Europe is not so much a “guilt culture” as it is a population with uniquely high levels of empathy and anxiety. I’d even go so far as to speculate that at least the latter is a relatively archaic trait that is bred out in long-established agricultural societies, so the more recent civilization of NW Europeans could account for higher than usual levels of anxiety in the Eurasian context.

  34. marylou says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    Without refrigeration and sterilisation milk did not stay fresh. Being put into animal skins it rapidly turned into curds/cheese. Milk was consumed as either a form of cheese, or as soured milk. The lactose was digested by the appropriate microbes. Milk in one form or another was the main source of protein for a lot of people, especially of nordic cultures. Curds are mentioned in the old testament. Gen.18:8 Abraham is serving curds.

  35. Conatus says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    Steve Sailer had a long post in May 2008, with over a 100 comments titled “White Guilt, Catholic Guilt, Jewish Guilt” Where he asserted Jewish guilt consisted of not being ethnic enough, contrary to what most of us assume would be a guilt provoking action.

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/05/white-american-guilt-catholic-guilt.html

    “Clearly, there is a form of Jewish guilt much like Catholic guilt that focuses on personal ethical lapses (for example, my father got a call on Yom Kippur once from a former colleague asking forgiveness for wronging him on the job), but that’s not what Americans typically mean by “Jewish guilt.”

    What is typically meant is something almost exactly the opposite of what is theoretically meant by “white guilt.”

    Joshua Halberstam wrote in The Forward in 2005 in “The Myth of Jewish Guilt:”

    There is no credible empirical evidence — I’ve looked hard and carefully — that Jews feel more unwarranted guilt than others. The hypothesis is of course too amorphous to confirm or disconfirm with reliability; interestingly, however, when it comes to testable mental states such as psychosis, the data suggests that Jews suffer less than average. To be sure, sensitive, reflective individuals are discomforted when they disturb the traditions, the communities and the families to whom they feel attachments. This is true of Jews… and everyone else. …

    How, then, did this bromide about Jewish guilt attain its status as a distinctive Jewish disposition? Unlike jokes about kishke, which Jews actually ate (and eat), and such slurs such as the Jews’ association with money — originally propounded by non-Jews — the Jewish guilt syndrome is a Jewish creation, the invention of the previous generation of assimilated American Jews (see Portnoy, Alexander).”

    Sailor concludes
    “In other words, “Jewish guilt” in modern America is, more than anything else, about not being racialist enough.”

    • Replies: @Bill M
  36. Bruce says:
    @Sean

    Sean,
    Orthodox Christianity’s influence is greatly reduced but I think it’s inevitable that the secular culture that follows would be shaped by historic Christianity. One possibility is that at least residual Christian notions of sin and guilt remain but without orthodox Christian faith and practice, there’s no forgiveness and purging of the sin and guilt.

  37. Gill says:

    Associating guilt with Christianity is a preposterous notion. Quilt as an artifice of power existed long before Jesus Christ lived. Christianity is the champion of forgiveness – the opposite of guilt. A third party using guilt to control people leads to evil doing. Quilt is an intellectual ploy to control people. Jews are the masters of using guilt.

    On the other hand, shame is a personal useful human emotion that acknowledges current wrong doing and that prevents people from doing bad things in the future. Shame is personal thing, it does not involve a third party. Seeking and granting forgiveness allows the future to proceed unencumbered. Seeking and receiving forgiveness from the injured party and from God, does not let third party use of guilt to enter the picture.

  38. Sean says:

    Peter Frost said “Medieval Christian culture favored the survival and reproduction of people who previously would not have survived and reproduced. Conversely, by criminalizing personal violence, particularly in cases where the offender felt no guilt or remorse, this culture was now eliminating people for behavior that had once been admired.”

    In computer simulations where various strategies can compete, the implacably mean strategy will get off to a flying start and quickly dominate. However a population of always defect ‘players’ will eventually take each other out, and a surviving ‘tit for tat’ will rise to dominate. But the problem with a population all using tit for tat is that, when done with micro chip accuracy, it does not allow for mistakes or what is called ‘noise’; and in the real world there are mistakes. So (in the real world) you identify someone as having done something to offend you, and you tit for tat retaliate, but so will he. So you can end up taking each other out. Yet what gets it started might be a mistake, he may have done it by accident or you may have got it wrong. When they factor the aforementioned random errors into simulations, eventually a forgiving version of tit for tat becomes dominant, and then the population starts edging toward being nicer and nicer. ‘There is always an incentive to forgive quicker and quicker’.

    At this point any always defect holdout or newcomer can go through the nicey-nicey population like a blowtorch through butter.

    One could speculate that guilt is an adaptation to ensure a forgiving strategy and it has turned Western society uniformly nicey-nicey. In 1970 Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said ” Western society is approaching that point beyond which the system becomes metastable and must fall.”

    • Replies: @TWS
  39. Stogumber says:

    Peter,

    I understand your ideas about affective empathy – which seems to rely on a particular style of “early modern” education which developed in stable families and little schools (“see what you’ve done – what do you think the poor XYZ feels now?”)

    Affective empathy has a certain impact on small-group life, perhaps not so much in mass society and political life.

    But wasn’t internalized fear from punishment much more important?

    E.g. the Catholic catechism defined “perfect repentance” indeed as something which transgressed mere internalized fear – but not via affective empathy with the victim, but via infinite love for God as the spender of morals and judge (as well as, perhaps, the advocate for the victims).

    • Replies: @Sean
  40. Hacienda says:

    I don’t know Peter, I saw of lot of guilt in Korea when it was more Buddhist weighted than
    it is today. Your simple West has guilt and East has shame dialectic seems to be a non-starter.

  41. Bruce says:

    Superficially, I think Catholics are more prone to guilt than protestants. But I’ve wondered if the elimination of confession & absolution meant that many protestants have had some sort of implicit or subconscious guilt. The symbolism of confession & absolution can be a powerful one (and if your Catholic you believe it effects what it symbolizes).

  42. Sean says:
    @Stogumber

    If internalized fear from punishment is so important in guilt, why do those in the modern West who do not believe in a God who can punish unrepentant sinners in the afterlife, still act as if they feel guilty? And why are they guiltily advocating for things that the Church never preached (like environmentalism) or actively opposed (such as gay rights)?

  43. Bill M says:
    @Conatus

    Yes, but Frost argues that guilt is devoid of specific moral prescriptions. It’s a mental state that stimulates a person to adhere to certain moral prescriptions provided by society.

  44. TWS says:
    @Rehmat

    The so-called “champion” of the democracy, the United States has not elected a female president or vice-president in its entire 300 year existence.

    Three hundred years? Is that like the 57 states? Without Christianity’s influence there would be nothing called women’s rights. How many women does it take to equal a man’s evidence under sharia law?

  45. TWS says:
    @Sean

    Early German and Celtic tribes were very willing to carry out blood feud some kept it up into the 19th or 20th Centuries. Killing or marginalizing the males with the most impulse control problems probably is what civilized the West. Guilt? Shame? Makes no difference honor is what mattered to a man and violence was an acceptable way of dealing with it. Accusations of being a coward or a liar were enough for men to kill for in the last 150 years.

    • Replies: @Sean
  46. @John Jeremiah Smith

    @ John Jeremiah Smith: Well put, thank you.

  47. Sean says:
    @TWS

    “Accusations of being a coward or a liar were enough for men to kill for in the last 150 years”. Yes, kill themselves. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 20-34 years; it’s guilt. Anorexia nervosa is guilt too.

    • Replies: @Numinous
  48. Numinous says:
    @Sean

    Suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 20-34 years; it’s guilt.

    No, that’s completely wrong. Shame is a much bigger reason for people to commit suicide. Guilt, on the other hand, would impel a person to make amends or do penance, neither of which will happen if he/she is dead.

    • Replies: @Sean
  49. Sean says:
    @Numinous

    It can be shame over something, but you’re assuming there is a reason and one can feel guilty for no reason. A lot of people commit suicide for reasons that absolutely no one around them can understand. (You won’t read that too often because newspapers have a code on how to report suicides). From what I can gather, anorexia doen’t seem to be about shame. (There was a religious form of anorexia in the Middle Ages which involved young women living on Holy Communion). Guilt is an adaptation and some people have rare combinations of genes that give them a more than normal propensity to feel guilt.

    • Replies: @Bill M
  50. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    Sean,

    I believe male suicide rates are higher outside of NW European populations in places like NE Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia, etc.

  51. I usually explain it as: guilt is the belief that you’ve done something bad, shame is the belief that you are something bad.

  52. Sean says:

    When Schizophrenics hear voices the voices inevitably say “Kill yourself”‘, clearly you can commit suicide for a variety of reasons. Lets compare comparable countries: suicide in Western Europe is highest in the most economically successful countries like Switzerland and Austria. They have a high degree of anxiety.

    The only girl I know who had anorexia was extraordinarily good looking, face like a model, tall and slim. (intelligent hard working and artistically gifted too) She now works as a designer. She was from an upper middle class family, as girls with anorexia tend to be.

    High achieving people tend to feel guilty and the high achieving countries have a tendency to guilt.

    • Replies: @Ozymandias
    , @Bill M
  53. @Sean

    “When Schizophrenics hear voices the voices inevitably say “Kill yourself”‘,”

    Got a link for that?

  54. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    Comparing suicide rates among Western European countries wouldn’t tell us that a W. European guilt trait causes high suicide rates.

    You’d have to compare with non-W. European countries, and it appears NE Europe, Eastern Europe, East Asia have higher suicide rates.

    • Replies: @Sean
  55. Sean says:
    @Bill M

    East European men die very young, there is an astonishing amount of alcohol abuse, and it has been backward for half a milenium. Yet the highest suicide rate in East Europe is in Estonia which is the most techically advanced.

    There are quite a lot of countries in western Europe. Austria and Switzerland have the highest suicide rates in the West, and they are the most economically successful Western countries.

    It is true that the economically sucessful countries of Asia (Korea and Japan) have high rates too, but guilt isn’t that different to shame. It’s just more efficient; less need for monitoring and enforcing compliance.

    Black Africans have very low suicide rates. And black women don’t tend to get anorexia. Austria has the highest anorexia rates in Europe.

    • Replies: @Bill M
  56. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    None of that suggests that suicide rates are a good indication of a Western European guilt trait. You’re excluding the non-Western European suicide rates by asserting that they’re due to alcohol and shame. So you’re left with comparing suicide rates among Western European countries which woesn’t tell us that a W. European guilt trait causes high suicide rates. If you’re comparing among WE countries, a WE guilt trait is no longer an independent variable. You’re left with a different independent variable, like economic success as you suggest.

  57. Sean says:

    Guilt is the most efficient way to get people working together, the most efficient countries have the highest suicide rates. The (Catholic) country of Estonia, being the most suicide prone, technically accomplished (Skype came from there) and economically successful in Eastern Europe just proves my point.

    • Replies: @Bill M
  58. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    Guilt is the most efficient way to get people working together, the most efficient countries have the highest suicide rates.

    Both of these are new assertions in this discussion, and they’re assertions that you haven’t justified.

    The original claim was that higher suicide rates reflect a specific WE guilt trait and that comparing countries’ suicide rates demonstrates this. But non-WE countries have higher suicide rates, which suggests that high suicide rates aren’t necessarily caused by a specific WE guilt trait. You then suggested that non-WE suicide rates should be ignored, and only WE suicide rates should be compared, which of course would change the independent variable and make the comparison irrelevant for the original claim. Thus we’re left with the original claim which remains unjustified.

    Also Estonia is not Catholic. And Skype was founded by Scandinavians that hired Estonian programmers.

    You should look over Mill’s methods: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mill%27s_methods

    Also see Whewell’s work on inductive reasoning.

    • Replies: @Sean
  59. Sean says:
    @Bill M

    Peter talks about affective or emotional empathy – capacity not only to understand how another person feels but also to experience those feelings involuntarily and to respond appropriately. Failure to help a person in distress can trigger a self-destructive sequence: anguish, depression, suicidal ideation”

    The post quotes “In the Orthodox Christian understanding, they explicitly deny that humanity inherited guilt from anyone. Rather, they maintain that we inherit our fallen nature. While humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin.” and says “Finally, guilt culture was strengthened through confession of one’s sins, particularly after this practice became mandatory with the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). All wrongdoings had to be atoned at least once a year, however private or personal they might be

    I suggested comparing like with like. Obviously West European countries are alike, and equally obviously people in east Europe may be Orthodox, have unpleasant lives and be likely to kill themselves for no good reason when they are drunk. Estonia isn’t orthodox and Skype was no fluke Estonia to offer e-citizenship to non-residents. (BTW ‘Eating Disorders in 7.7% of Estonian women’).

    As I understand it Peter is saying people and nationalities that are highly efficient have a tendency to affective empathy that stems partly from the teaching of the Church and partly from addaptations to Mesolithic fish processing. Affective empathy can lead to guilt, and i was suggesting suicide and anorexia (which can lead to death) as a measure.

    “The study seemed to confirm the stereotypes that the British have a sense of fair play, while the Greeks thirst for revenge. Players in Athens and Muscat had the highest level of revenge punishments, retaliating against the enforcers…”

    “A version of the ultimatum game is called the dictator game, in which the Proposer simply dictates whether or not to give money and how much. … German children’s most frequent offer was an equal split“.

    Look at a non European society “”Experiments conducted in villages in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (American Economic Review, vol 98, p 494). In these tests, two players started out with 50 rupees each. The first could choose to give his to the second, in which case the experimenters added a further 100 rupees, giving the second player 200 rupees in total. The second player could decide to keep the money for himself, or share it equally with the first player. A third player then entered the game, who could punish the second player – for each 2 rupees he was willing to spend, the second player was docked 10 rupees.

    The results were startling. Even when the second player shared the money fairly, two-thirds of the time the newcomer decided to punish him anyway – a spiteful act with seemingly no altruistic payoff. “We asked one guy why, he said he thought it was fun.””

    It was the high caste men who thought it was ‘fun’.

    • Replies: @Bill M
  60. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    You can compare like with like. But when you do compare like with like, the like is not the independent variable. Something else is. This is basic inductive reasoning.

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