Ethics and Human Behavioral Modernity


Humans were once purely animal, the same as all the other animal species, implying that the practice of ethics must have been nonexistent until quite recently in human history. It has been during the species’ turn towards behavioral modernity that ethical precepts and systems have been formed, eventually becoming an integral part of modern human existence. This essay will explore the cause for this transition, emphasizing the idea that there are now two different sources of modern human behavior. On the one hand, modern humans are still animal, and they must still engage in biologically driven behaviors. At the same time, modern humans have become increasingly influenced and guided by the many artificial constructions that have been accruing over time and are now saturating the human landscape, with the response to these artificial constructions producing a wide range of behaviors heretofore unwitnessed on the planet Earth. These two aspects of modern humanity—the animal aspect and the constructed aspect—they find themselves often in conflict, each striving to gain ascendency over each individual and over the species as a whole. It is to negotiate this inherent conflict that ethics and morality are formed.

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