Image by DML East Branch via FlickrLets consider a persons particular genetic expression of personality (personality features manifest in an individual, paying no mind to the massive variability if we only consider the genetic heritage of the parents). Now, considering this, we have something that has much more influence over personality than environment.
For example, the Big Five personality traits:
Quote: The Big five factors are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN, or CANOE if rearranged)
These seem to be set at conception, visible soon after birth, stable for your whole life, and resistance to long term change due to environment or intervention.
Also, Jonathan Haidt's five Moral Foundations: Care/Protection, Fairness, Loyalty/Ingroup, Respect/Authority, Purity - also seems to be due to individual genetic expression, and resist change due to environment or intervention.
[ nice TED video by Haidt: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html ]
These other things, to me, seem to be true:
- It is a good thing to believe that you have the ability, with work, to positively change your repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions. And most people have this belief (thank goodness).
- Over the time scale of 10 to 15 years, with daily work, a person can positively change the repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions. (Most Americans can only conceive of time scales of months, at most. Bad Times if you actually wish to improve yourself morally. Please consider daily work toward a longer time horizon goal.)
Image via WikipediaThere is no lack of Good Info on positively changing the your repertoire of moral thoughts and moral actions, over the time scale of 10 to 15 years. Start with the Stoics and the Neo-Confucian thinker Wang Yangming, take seriously the writings of the Epicureans, the Cynics, the Buddhists, and the Taoists to foster some philosophic perspective. If Jesus floats your boat, he'z a good'n too.
OK, now for fun, I will figure out where I sit with regards to the Big Five Personality traits, and Haidt's Five Moral Foundations:
Openness - I am more inventive/curious, less cautious/conservative
Conscientiousness - more spontaneous/careless, less efficient/organized
Extroversion - more shy/withdrawn, less outgoing/energetic
Agreeableness - more suspicious/antagonistic/outspoken, less friendly/compassionate
Image by Malingering via FlickrNeuroticism - more sensitive/depressed/anxious, less secure/confident
For the Moral Foundations, I will state my goal, and what I am willing to risk to secure that goal.
Care - moral emotion towards people being taken care of - risking burdening the most capable to provide care for the most vulnerable, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living
Fairness - moral emotion towards strict fairness - even to the point of handicapping the most privileged to avoid the possibility of unfairness, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.
Loyalty - moral emotion to not exclude the out-group, - even to the point of denying the most privileged the freedom to forming a self-perpetuating in-group, risking a loss of prosperity, and risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.
Respect - moral emotion to never let tradition or authority stand in the way of a moral goal, even to the point of mocking or harassing privileged tradition or authority, risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.
Purity - moral emotion to never let the desire for purity to stand in the way of a moral goal, even to the point of purposely & spitefully soiling or desecrating a thing or a place, risking losing a cherished way of life or standard of living.
Image by Mish Mish via FlickrLastly...
The only place where I might push back is with Agreeableness - I am often quiet nasty, but I have a strong streak of Sweetness. It pains me to think someone nearby might be suffering emotionally, and I owe them to go more than halfway to let them know that it is not hopeless and to validate their grief and validate their potential to shed that grief. Even if I am just setting myself up to be taken advantage of, it is worth it to take that chance, for what is right.
Image via WikipediaAnd, I am not particularly impressed with my ability to put moral concerns before my own comfort. If I had to pick the most contemptible thing about me, it is that I often put my own comfort over my own moral concerns.
Hey, that worked out well. I never wrote that all out in one place before.