Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Snakes on a Plain

...or anywhere else.

Our brains and the brains of many other animals come pre-equipped with modules for recognizing and fearing snakes. and snake like objects. There are lots of other "modules" too, and Jonathan Haidt believes that he has found several that form the basis of our social morality. These modules are templates, not fully formed at birth, and their malleability, he believes, accounts for the variety of our moral systems. The templates themselves appear to be universal, except in pathological cases like psychopaths.