The Acquisition of Morality Essay

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Would you describe a dog as capable of being evil? Or a cat? Or a chimpanzee? Most likely you could not. We humans belong to the taxonomic kingdom of Animalia and are therefore animals. Our species has evolved from animals that looked and acted more like the modern chimpanzee than we do. So at what point did we go from being creatures of instinct do developing the concept of morality? A great deal of literature has been written about morality, examples of which can be located in fiction and non-fiction as well as in scientific, theological and philosophical fields. Specific examples include the bible, as well as the writings of Plato (c. 424-348 BCE), Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) and John Steinbeck (1902-1968). Morality is a trait that is developed as a result of practical material situations and experience as exemplified in The Grapes of Wrath, challenged by St. Matthew, but reinforced in the writings of Plato; we humans are born morally neutral.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the Joad family as they travel from Oklahoma to California. The story has some very realistic examples of people learning lessons in morality, whether they realize it or not, as well as the values of being moral. Steinbeck wrote:
The families learned what rights must be observed—the right of privacy in the tent; the right to keep the past black hidden in the heart; the right to talk and to listen; the right to refuse help or to accept, to offer help or to decline it;…

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