Saturday, January 12, 2008

Corruptibility and Natural Purity

People will often understand something that is closer to natural state as being more pure. That is, the quality of any object or person that is coexisting with nature, and on the same level as nature intrinsically is blessed with a primal goodness. This is to say that as the amount of primal goodness increases in an individual, they are perceived as being more innocent. The most accurate definition of this primal goodness, which seems very vague at this point, defines the quality of being in an uncorrupted stasis.

When uncorrupted by some event or some thing (we'll refer to it as a "material") outside the realm of one's nature, an object or individual is considered to be innocent. Therefore, corruption can be seen as the quality of being in a transition between a nature or original state to a deviated or changed state by the act of what we will call an outside agitator. Without this outside agitator, it is often held that an individual will remain in an uncorrupted state, and that remaining in an uncorrupted state, when individuals are involved, is the healthiest way to live for that individual perceived to be occupying a position closer to nature.

What this boils down to is that just as innocence is associated with an individual's ability to reason, it is also associated with an individual's qualitative cognitive state, which is defined as being either corrupted or uncorrupted. When an individual is uncorrupted, they are living in a pure and natural state that supposedly is in their best interest to remain in, and the act of corrupting someone is seen as an atrocity, even under circumstances where necessity calls for it. This thinking seems intuitive, because children seem to be living in a natural state, uncorrupted, and the act of some outside agitator corrupting their cognitive perceptions, either through the media or in real life, is considered very unfortunate in some instances to a crime in other instances. So it seems valuable that this principle of corruption be investigated.

The major issue with this theory is that when innocence is supposedly taken, the individual's quality of natural purity (and therefore their corruptibility) is taken along with it. It holds that children have a pure nature and when that nature is taken away, it's not the case that it's no longer pure, but that the nature itself ceases to exist in them. Adults are considered void and children are considered full, according to this view. Due to the fact that relatively few adults are considered totally impure, it's not the case that the purity that was considered to be there in childhood is reversed in adulthood, but rather, it is seen as having been taken away by the outside agitator, and in its place the agitator has left them with the experience. This seems valid within the argument's definitional constraints, because the act of corruption describes any change or deviation from a natural state to a deviated state, and doesn't specify that a corruptive change is necessarily a bad influence. Corruption could very well be a change for the better, such as learning to read, in the case of childhood, whereby illiteracy is considered the natural or pure state and the deviated state after education, acting as an outside agitator, is the ability to read.

However if adults are truly void, and therefore have no natural purity or innocence in them, then we'd expect to observe adults as being completely incorruptible. From a speculative stand point it seems false that adults are incorruptible, because adults are just as prone to change and experimentation throughout life as children are, and if corruption simply mandates a change has taken place from a natural or pure state to a deviated state, whether it has a lasting positive or negative effect on their life, than it seems highly unintuitive that adults are incorruptible. However, it is true that corruption has more of a negative connotation, which is what is normally meant when applied to children being corrupted by outside agitators beyond their control, we can speculated that adults are prey to the same type of corruption as well. Adults can fall prey to temptation, to their own devices, to the suggestion of people higher than them, and furthermore they just as often as not are capable of not knowing that they are doing these things, and often are convinced that their actions are actually for the greater good, despite the amount of corruption that may be involved. If this be the case, that adults are corruptible and children are corruptible, than how can either one be considered any more innocent than the other?

From a relativist stand point, a child's ability to be corrupted and an adult's ability to be corrupted exist along the same path as the human ability to be corrupted. The ability to be corrupted undergoes changes as the individual grows and matures. A relativist might draw a line of equivocation between the kinds of things an adult can be corrupted by and the kinds of things a child can be corrupted by, as well as a line of equivocation between how a child expresses themselves once corrupted and how an adult expresses themselves once corrupted.

This argument of innocence on the definition of nature purity is generally used to justify ageist opinions on the capacities of those who are considered innocent; to set limitations for their inclusion of certain events that are deemed to have a potential corrupting influence (medias that are unsuitable for children for instance). Under a relativist restructuring, everyone is considered innocent but innocence itself fits into an individual's relative developmental position. A child's innocence is therefore different than an adult's innocence, and that difference as far as the appeal to natural purity is concerned, the estimated amount of corruption necessary to overcome the amount of relative innocence an individual holds. A few variables factor into this equivocation, because an individual's ability to be corrupted by something assumes they have the reasoning capabilities to fully comprehend the outside agitator.

As I wrote last time in the post on Reason, a child's reasoning and an adult's reasoning are themselves relatively differentiated. So when in the presence of an outside agitator, a child's ability to reason about that agitator will affect their ability to be corrupted by it, and the same is true for an adult. In some ways, this spares children from the full effect of the kinds of corruptive forces that adults can be corrupted by, because their relative abilities to reason are existing along a microcosmic level in relation to that of the adult's. For a child to be subject to the full effect of these adult corruptive forces would be unfathomable, and also improbable because they only have the ability to reason that is consistent with that of a child. Children are affected by these adult corruptive events, but only on the scale of their ability to reason about the event. Other factors, other than reason, can contribute to a child or adult's ability to be corrupted by an event or a material as well, such as personal proximity to the people and places involved in the event or the material, personal degree of interest in the event or material, and other factors that can influence, enhance, or deter an individual's ability to reason about the event or the material.

Such an event worth noting, that had corruptive influence for everyone, child and adult alike, could be seen in the United States during and after the terrorist attacks in the September of 2001. These events were the spring board upon which a global resolve against the spread of terror was launched, and it was the toll on the psyche, for both children and adults, that allowed for it to commence. A child though, was only capable of being corrupted by that event to the scale that they could reason about it, factoring in all variables, such as proximity to the event, personal invested interest in the event (the death of a loved one) and other factors that could have influenced their ability to reason about the event, both for children and adults. This is an extreme example, but the principle should hold true for more common occurrences so long as they have the ability to corrupt even adult reasoning.

As an addendum, the hypothesis for the relativist would be that the ability to reason about a specific event or material enhances or assists in the corruptive force's ability to corrupt an individual (that is, to change an individual from a state of natural purity to a deviated state). And the inability to reason about a specific event or material inhibits or shields against the full magnitude of the corruptive force, but the event or material is still able to corrupt the individual, just on a level consistent with their ability to reason about it.

Ageist opinions generally proclaim that a child's nature and an adult's nature are two different things, which seems to be true, because what has a corrupting influence on an adult doesn't necessarily have a corrupting influence on a child. For example, while exposure to pornographic material is said to have a corrupting influence on a child, that same material is unlikely to have the same influence on an adult, all things being equal. Therefore the ageist would make the argument that because pornography has a far greater potential to corrupt a child than it does an adult, it ought to be banned from sight in the eyes of the uncorrupted. However, this proposal doesn't take into account that the amount of the corrupting material also plays a role in its potential to corrupt, because oftentimes children and adults can be corrupted by the same materials but just by differing amounts of which. Ultimately, the ageist fails to realize that though an adult's nature and a child's nature are different, the basis of the difference is not qualitative but quantitative in most cases, in that the inner corruptibility remains a constant, but the expression and reaction of this corruptibility is altered due to developmental factors.

Furthermore, the assumption is that some people have been corrupted and others have not. If corruption can be seen as any change, than there are none who are not corrupted, and many would consider it a misfortune if a child or adult was deprived of the chance to experience a bit of negative corruption for growth purposes. Ignorance is normally attributed to those who willingly choose to remain innocent despite how the presence of the outside agitators have attempted to corrupt them, and is usually considered to be a negative personality trait. Innocence is normally attributed to those who are intrinsically uncorrupted, not by will but by nature, and is considered to be a positive trait, regardless of what wrongful actions they may do while in the uncorrupted state (Adam and Eve, for example). It might be the case though, that when innocence is a common trait of all individuals to a relative degree, that maintaining a level of ignorance be the appropriate and reasonable response to maintain one's own innocence in a world full of agitators attempting to prey on our collective corruptibilities.

The bottom line is, all people are living in a natural state at all times, even in times when they are being corrupted. This natural state is for them, relative in size and shape to their developmental, social, and cultural necessities. This developmental and cultural necessity defines the nature of the difference between the otherwise uniform equivocation between the child's natural state and the adult's natural state. Corruption happens when one is diverted from their natural state, but they maintain their innocence by the fact that they maintain their corruptibility, as I speculated earlier. Corruptibility is just as human a trait as innocence, and certainly is a wholly natural one at that on both macrocosmic (adult) and microcosmic (child) levels.

In this, true innocence rests in realizing the horrors of the world exist, and still remaining unharmed by them.