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What kinds of gods are keeping an eye on us?

Along with having various deities, the Greeks also of course lived in a complex, interconnected social system. Recent experimental research suggests that punitive, omniscient and morally concerned gods may curb selfishness because these gods trigger both the feeling of being watched and the fear of punishment for breaking the rules.

Cross-cultural studies using historical or survey data have also found this relationship. But until now, no one had investigated the relationship between types of gods and selfishness directly using experimental methods with as culturally diverse participants as those in our study. We first set out to determine what constituted a moralistic god in our field sites, which included cultures as diverse as the foraging Hadza of Tanzania, native Fijians from Yasawa, and southern Siberians from the Tyva Republic.

In preliminary interviews, we asked people questions about the gods they knew about, and whether or not those gods cared about moral things like theft and deceit. We used those data as background for the next part of our study.

Then, we used an economic game experiment that measured rule-breaking. Participants sit in front of two cups, 30 coins and a die.

Related terms:

One cup is reserved for one person; the other cup is reserved for another person. Then they roll the die. If it comes up one color — say, white — they are supposed to put a coin into the cup they thought of. If the die comes up another color — say, red — they are supposed to put coins into the opposite cup. If one cup is assigned to the player, and the other is for a random person from a distant village, chances are, players would prefer their own cup since they get to walk away with whatever is in it. But since participants play by themselves — without anyone watching — they can put however many coins into whichever cup they want to.

And they do. In our experiment, participants played two games. Yet these types of civilization are far different from that of Western nations.

Their ideas of culture are in great contrast to our own. They are not identical in religious life, and their ideals of art and social progress vary. Moreover, the racial type varies somewhat and with it the national life and thought. Compare England, Germany, France, and Spain as to the variability in characteristics of literature and art, in moral ideals, in ethical practice, in religious motive, and in social order.

Their differences are evident, but they tend to disappear under the influence of rapid transit and close intercommunication, which draw all modern nations nearer together. Yet, granting the variability of ideals and of practice, there is a general consensus of opinion as to what constitutes civilization and what are the elements of progress.

Modern writers differ somewhat in opinion as to elements of civilization, but these differences are more apparent than real, as all true civilization must rest upon a solid foundation of common human traits. The fundamental principles and chief characteristics are quite uniform for all nations and for all times, and writers who disagree as to general characteristics may not be classified by national boundaries; they represent the differences of philosophers.

Modern Civilization Includes Some Fundamentals. In the modern, accepted sense it includes 1 a definite knowledge of man and nature. The classified knowledge of science and philosophy and all phases of the history of man socially and individually are important in estimating his true progress. All forms of thought and life are to be estimated in considering the full meaning of the term. It also includes 2 progress in art.

While science deals with principles, art deals with rules of action. Science gives classified knowledge, while art directs to a practical end. Art provides definite plans how to operate. If these plans are carried out, the field of practice is entered. The fine arts and the industrial or practical arts, in all of their varied interests, are included in art as a factor in civilization. This category should include the highest forms of painting, poetry, sculpture, and music, as well as the lowest forms of industrial implements.

Civilization includes 3 a well-developed ethical code quite universally observed by a community or nation. The rule of conduct of man toward himself and toward his fellows is one of the essential points of discrimination between barbarism and civilization. While ethical practice began at a very early period in the progress of man, it was a long time before any distinct ethical code became established. But the completed civilization does not exist until a high order of moral practice obtains; no civilization can long prevail without it.

Of less importance, but of no less binding force, is 4 the social code , which represents the forms and conventionalities of society, built, it is true, largely upon the caprices of fashion, and varying greatly in different communities, yet more arbitrary, if possible, than the moral code. It considers fitness and consistency in conduct, and as such is an important consideration in social usage and social progress. In Europe it has its extreme in the court etiquette; in America, in the punctiliousness of the higher social classes of our large cities.

But it affects all communities, and its observance may be noted in rural districts as well as in the city population. The mores, or customs, of man began at a very early time and have been a persistent ruling power in human conduct.

Evolution of human society

Through tradition they are handed down from generation to generation, to be observed with more or less fidelity as a guide to the art of living. Every community, whether primitive or developed, is controlled to a great extent by the prevailing custom. It is common for individuals and families to do as their ancestors did. This habit is frequently carried to such an extent that the deeds of the fathers are held sacred from which no one dare to depart.

He said: "We took two ultra-modern developments, motion pictures and radio, direct to a people who live and think as their ancestors did two thousand years ago. While this is a dominant force which makes for the unity and perpetuity of the group, it is only by departure from established tradition that progress is made possible.


Engels and the origins of human society

Civilization involves 5 government and law. The tribes and nations in a state of barbarism lived under the binding influence of custom. In this period people were born under status , or condition, not under law. Gradually the old family life expanded into the state, and government became more formal. Law appeared as the expression of the will of the people directly or indirectly through their representatives. True, it may have been the arbitrary ruling of a king, but he represented the unity of the race and spoke with the authority of the nation.

Law found no expression until there was formed an organic community capable of having a will respecting the control of those who composed it.

Lesson summary: the origin of humans and early human societies (article) | Khan Academy

It implies a governing body and a body governed; it implies an orderly movement of society according to a rule of action called law. While social order is generally obtained through law and government, such is the practice in modern life that the orderly association of men in trade and commerce and in daily contact appears to stand alone and to rise above the control of the law. Indeed, in a true civilization, the civil code, though an essential factor, seems to be outclassed by the higher social instincts based on the practice of social order.

His faith may prove a source of inspiration to reason and progressive life; it may prove the opposite, and lead to stagnation and retrogression. Upon the whole, it must be insisted that religious belief has subserved a large purpose in the economy of human progress. It has been universal to all tribes, for even the lowest have some form of religious belief—at least, a belief in spiritual beings.

Religious belief thus became the primary source of abstract ideas, and it has always been conducive to social order.

Society and Culture

It has, in modern times especially, furnished the foundation of morality. By surrounding marriage with ceremonies it has purified the home life, upheld the authority of the family, and thus strengthened social order. It has developed the individual by furnishing an ideal before science and positive knowledge made it possible.

It strengthened patriotic feeling on account of service rendered in supporting local government, and subjectively religion improved man by teaching him to obey a superior. Again, by its tradition it frequently stifled thought and retarded progress.